Ensuring Digital Inclusion Is Front of Mind in Canberra

A government change brings exciting opportunities to find fresh solutions to seemingly intractable problems. The new Albanese government has expressed a “significant appetite for social justice,” not least regarding the issue of digital inclusion, which is finally on the Federal government’s agenda.

Data compiled by The Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) shows that more than 11 per cent of Australians remain “highly excluded” digitally. Primarily made up of low-income earners, there is significant disparity between rural and metropolitan areas. Regrettably, remote First Nations communities remain the most digitally excluded Australians, with the gap continually widening.

However, there are changes afoot! Prior to the election, the Australian Digital Inclusion Alliance (ADIA) formulated policy recommendations motivated by the goals of reducing the digital divide and ensuring that all Australians are “given the opportunities to thrive in the digital landscape.”

These recommendations include:

  • A dedicated Digital Technology Taskforce to work with the sector, taking a “whole of government” approach to digital transformation and inclusion.
  • Accessible, affordable, and reliable broadband options for low-income Australians.
  • A Digital Capabilities Framework to build digital capacity, with skills developed through accessible training.

These changes won’t happen overnight, however much we would like them to. Consistent, strong advocacy, combined with a strong commitment from all levels of government will be required, according to this article from Pro Bono Australia.

In the meantime, Leep will continue our work to improve digital literacy and inclusion in the communities we serve. We have recently launched two programs that provide ipads, a year of data access, and digital mentoring to seniors in Western NSW and Western Sydney, areas that have among the highest levels of socio-economic disadvantage in Australia, and higher rates of poverty for older people than the rest of NSW. By providing personal digital access and connectivity for a highly disadvantaged group of people, and with our Tech Mates working one-on-one to digitally mentor each Learner individually, program recipients are able to safely develop digital confidence and skills. The programs fulfil all three national markers for digital inclusion: accessibility, affordability, and digital ability, and provide a clear path forward for improving digital inclusion for isolated and vulnerable Older Australians.

  1. The Making it Click: Connecting Seniors iPad Program, generously supported by the Okta for Good Fund and Tides Foundation, is available for residents of Western NSW and Outer Western Sydney aged 65+ (50+ for First Nations) who are reliant upon government benefits.

We are always recruiting and training volunteers to become digital mentoring Tech Mates. Yes, we want you!leep.ngo/tmeoi.

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