Today we are launching our inaugural Digital Nation Australia that paints a picture of digital inclusion in our country.
In building a national digital inclusion program at Good Things Foundation Australia, we’ve been considering as much evidence and research as possible to better understand the state of digital inclusion in Australia. Digital Nation Australia brings together a number of these pieces of research to paint the picture of who is digitally excluded and included in Australia. It also highlights the benefits that digital inclusion can bring - to individuals, to communities, and to the nation as a whole.
By bringing together data from a number of different sources, we hope that we have created a useful asset to help raise awareness of the issue and to identify activities that can help make change happen.
As you’ll see, there is a lot of work happening in organisations across the country helping us to better understand digital inclusion and how we can ensure all Australians benefit from our increasingly digital world. Telstra, Australia Post, NBN, the Australian Government, Swinburne University, RMIT, CSIRO, Deloitte and Yellow, have all contributed to our understanding of digital inclusion in Australia and they all come from a slightly different perspective. This is because we don’t have an agreed approach to measuring digital inclusion across the country. The Australian Digital Inclusion Index certainly helps, but we need Federal, State and Territory governments to come on board and agree on the key targets to which we can all work towards to ensure no one is left behind.
At Good Things Foundation Australia, we are most interested in ensuring all people have the digital skills and confidence they need to interact with the digital world. So, at the time of an impending Federal election, we are calling on all Australian political parties to commit to the development of an essential digital skills framework and measurement tool, to ensure we are all on the path for Australia to be a leader in digital inclusion.
Of course, Digital Nation Australia alone doesn’t tell the whole story. To really put the digital divide in Australia into context, we also need to focus on the stories of real people who have benefited from digital. We need to look at the research alongside the stories of people like Val and Lindsay, who are using the internet to better manage their health. Or Kim, who is using the internet to keep in touch with family. We know that by being digitally able, active and equal it helps people to become healthier, happier and better off.
In the UK, we’ve been publishing a version of Digital Nation for a number of years, and it’s become the go-to place for people looking for data on digital exclusion. Bringing the data together in one visual allows people to see at a glance what it means to be excluded, and how we can support people to cross the divide. It’s helped us to change policy and engage new partners, which in turn has helped us to support over 2.5 million people to improve their lives.
Given this is our first Digital Nation Australia, we hope it drives conversation and debate, and is useful to others across the digital inclusion sector because it’s going to take a movement of people to drive digital inclusion in Australia.
I encourage anyone with an interest in making change happen to get in touch. Whether you have data of your own that you want to share, are delivering digital inclusion programs, or want to work together - we’d love to talk to you.
Ensuring everyone can thrive in a digital world is a responsibility shared by all of us. Together we can close the divide once and for all.