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A leading digital economy needs 100% digital inclusion

New Federal Government digital economy strategy and investment released

By Good Things Foundation Australia · 06/05/2021

Text: A leading digital economy needs 100% digital inclusion

On Thursday 6 May, the Australian Government released its Digital Economy Strategy and outlined a $1.2 billion investment to deliver a modern digital economy to drive our nation’s future prosperity.

While we welcome the vision of creating a leading digital economy and society by 2030, the Strategy has missed the opportunity to close the digital divide and ensure a 100% digitally included nation.

For Australia to be a leading digital economy, we need to get the basics right. All Australians need the digital skills for life and work.

“All future jobs will need basic digital skills. While it is great to see the Government invest in the technology workforce, no additional funding has been allocated to make sure everyone has the essential digital skills they need to find and maintain work as Australia undergoes this rapid digital transformation,” said Jess Wilson, National Director Good Things Foundation Australia.

“With a strong focus on digital-first government services and business, we need to make sure that everyone in our country has affordable access to internet-connected devices at home, and have the digital skills to find work, stay connected with loved ones, and equally participate in the online world.”

In our Federal Budget Pre-Submission, Good Things Foundation Australia called for investment in community-based digital skills programs to ensure that those most vulnerable of being left behind during the rapid transition to the digital economy are supported. This is a model that has been proven to work for older people and could easily be expanded to the broader community.

The not-for-profit sector is a large employer in Australia, employing over 1.3m people, and has undertaken rapid digital transformation during the pandemic to continue serving their community whilst experiencing increased demand for services. We hope that the digital transformation support offered to small and medium business in the Strategy is extended to the not-for-profit sector when further details are released to continue the delivery of vital community services.

While investment in closing the digital divide is lacking in the Strategy, it is positive to see continued work to simplify and enhance MyGov and My Health Record. Both of these are essential online government services, and we recommend co-designing the digital products with everyday people, including those with limited digital skills, to ensure they are easy to use and accessible for all.

“We know there is still much more to do to ensure a 100% digitally included Australia,” said Jess Wilson. We would welcome the opportunity to work with Senator the Hon Jane Hume, to ensure everyone can benefit from the Digital Economy.