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What is the digital divide?

1 in 4 people in Australia is digitally excluded, putting them at risk of being left behind in our digital world.

Digital inclusion is a social issue

Digital inclusion means ensuring people can use the internet and technology to improve their daily lives. This is not just a tech issue. Digital inclusion is about enabling access to everything the digital world has to offer to ensure no one is left behind.

The Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) shows that while digital inclusion is slowly increasing across Australia, there remains a substantial digital divide in Australia.

1 in 4 people in Australia are still digitally excluded (ADII, 2023). People with low levels of income, education and employment, those living in some regional areas, people aged over 65 and people with a disability are at particular risk of being left behind.

Everyone in Australia has the right to affordable access to digital technology and the skills and confidence to use it.

That’s why we work every day to bridge the digital divide.

What is the digital divide

1 in 4 people
in Australia are digital excluded

 (ADII, 2023)

63% of people
don’t feel confident in their ability to stay up to date

(Get Online Week report, 2023)

46% of people
have seen their ability to get online affected by the rising cost of living

(Get Online Week report, 2023)

Key areas of the digital inclusion

An older man looks at his phone at the train station

Essential digital skills

Building blocks people need to participate in the digital world. They include basics like knowing how to turn a device on and off, sending emails, searching online and filling in online forms to access education and work online. Essential digital skills also include knowing how to stay safe online, create good passwords and avoid scams.

A woman looks at her laptop

Digital health literacy

Digital health literacy is essential for everyone to make informed, confident choices to support their health and wellbeing using online tools and resources. This includes learning how to connect to a telehealth consultation, making online appointments and building criteria when looking for online health information. 

A migrant women training another in digital skills smiles at her student

Digital inclusion for people from non English speaking backgrounds

Many newly arrived migrants and refugees face barriers to digital inclusion due to access to technology and internet connectivity, lack of digital skills and language barriers. Providing materials in easy English and working with by-lingual digital mentors can help them to fully participate in society and the workforce, improving their lives and connections. 

A man sits in an emergency shelter

Digital skills in a crisis

For natural disasters, health crises, and any emergency is fundamental to have digital skills to ensure access to reliable information, connect with friends, family and community and be able to contact emergency and recovery services when needed. This includes learning how to spot fake news and how to avoid misinformation.

A diverse group of young women

The digital gender divide

Women and girls not having equal access and participation online as men is being called the ‘digital gender divide’. Globally, men are 21% more likely to be online than women.  The divide is even bigger for women on low incomes, unpaid carers, women with disability, First Nations and older women. Having lower skills, confidence and affordable access to internet. 

young man with a disability with with his digital mentor

Digital inclusion for people with disability

People with disability are at greater risk of not having the skills, support and access they need to be safe and confident online. Research has shown that people with disability use less digital and social media. They are also more likely to experience online safety issues such as cyber-bullying, harassment, image-based abuse and technology-facilitated abuse.

Digital Nation 2021

Digital Nation Australia 2021 brings together the latest research and insights from government, community and academia to help build understanding of the digital inclusion landscape in Australia and inform initiatives that could close the digital divide for all.

Infographic split in two sides, divided by a river labelled 'The Digital Divide'. The river has three bridges, labelled 'Access', 'Ability' and 'Affordability' respectively. On one side of the river, is the title heading 'Most at Risk of Digital Exclusion'. Underneath are several statistics, which are as follows. People with disabilities are lower users of digital social media. People with mobile-only connection: 1/3 are low-income families with school-aged children. First Nations people: 30% of people in remote First Nations communities have no household internet or phone. People living in rural and remote areas: Only 1/3 of Australian land area has mobile connectivity. Low income households: Half had difficulty paying for home internet. People with low levels of education: 44% have no media literacy support. People aged over 65 years: 80% find it difficult to keep up with tech changes. New migrants and refugees: Low skills and access are a barrier to accessing services during the pandemic. Women seek more support around online safety. People not in the labour force: Confidence in digital skills decreases as length of retirement increases. On the other side of the river is the title heading 'Most digitally included', with the following text listed: People living in capital cities, High income households (over $150,000), Younger people (14-49 years), People who are tertiary educated, The ADII score of Australia is 63 in 2020, up from 61.9 in 2019. Good Things Foundation Australia logo.

“I feel more connected to other people and independent than ever before. Digital skills really have changed my life”

– Mike Garth, Be Connected learner.

A men called Mike Garth looking at the camera when using a computer.

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