Announcements | Insights

Funding for digital inclusion critical to Australia’s future

Budget announcement shows the importance of digital inclusion, but more needs to be done to close the digital divide.

By Good Things Foundation Australia · 27/10/2022

This week’s Federal Budget highlights how critical being safe, confident and affordably online is across all aspects of modern life – from telehealth to employment, education and connectivity. We welcome Tuesday’s Budget measures which support greater digital inclusion so that more Australians can fully participate in our increasingly online society.

“It is great to see the new Government placing a greater emphasis on closing the digital divide, but there is still much more to do,” says Jess Wilson, CEO Good Things Foundation Australia.

“With 1 in 4 people digitally excluded in this country, the Albanese Government has the opportunity to positively impact millions of people and future-proof the economy by investing in digital skills, affordability and access.”

Digital inclusion funding 22/23

Digital inclusion starts with access. We commend the Government for taking steps to  address the metro-regional digital divide. People living in regional Australia will have access to more reliable and affordable internet connections with the announcement of more than $757 million to improve mobile and broadband connectivity in rural and regional areas, including further support for the Regional Tech Hub. 

Digital health programs expand essential services. We are pleased to see the Government reinstating partial bulk-billing for psychiatry telehealth consultations in eligible regional and rural areas. Digital healthcare is now an essential part of the modern health system, and it’s important that everyone has equal access to it.

Access needs to be affordable to be effective. The delivery of free broadband to up to 30,000 unconnected families with school aged children in 2023 is also promising. This will help close the educational divide many Australian children experience from not having affordable digital access at home. Stronger digital literacy education for children is also being addressed, with funding committed to roll out a national media and digital literacy program for primary and secondary school students.

Digital skills critical for the future of work. With 1 in 4 jobs created by 2025 expected to be for digital tech workers, the Budget recognises how crucial upskilling and digital literacy is for our future workforce. There is an emphasis on creating a healthy tech sector, with the implementation of a Digital and Tech Skills Compact with unions and businesses, as well as support for people seeking a career in digital through formal qualifications. Jobs and Skills Australia will also lead a national study on adult digital literacy, numeracy and traditional literacy skills.

Digital inclusion for First Nations people an urgent priority. The Government has committed to establishing a First Nations Digital Advisory Group to consult with First Nations people on digital inclusion initiatives. 

More to be done to close the digital divide

While increased support for digital inclusion in the Budget is a great start, more needs to be done to ensure that no one is left behind. 

“While the Albanese Government’s first Budget shows a promising commitment to digital inclusion, there are still several important areas of digital inequality left unaddressed,” says Jess.

In our Blueprint to Close the Digital Divide’, we call for action on three key priorities to close the digital divide: 

  • Data and devices for all: Cost of living pressures mean for many Australians, digital devices and data are simply unaffordable. Initiatives such as national device and data banks help provide digital access to those who need it most.
  • Coordination and expansion of digital skills support: It is not enough just to have access to technology – everyone needs the skills to use it too. A nationally-coordinated, community-led digital skills program needs to be funded and available for all ages and demographics, regardless of location. This includes extending the successful Be Connected program and funding digital health literacy initiatives for consumers.
  • Creation of a National Digital Inclusion Strategy: Critically, digital inclusion must be driven by policy and funding decisions at a federal level. A National Digital Inclusion Strategy will ensure a coordinated, comprehensive approach to closing Australia’s digital divide. 

To close Australia’s digital divide for all, greater investment and collaboration across government, industry, philanthropy and the community sectors is essential. 

“We need a national digital inclusion strategy developed and implemented in consultation with the Government, corporate and community sectors, and those experiencing digital exclusion to set the national agenda,” says Jess. 

“The Albanese Government has made a great start in addressing key digital inclusion issues in this budget, and we look forward to working closely with them to close Australia’s digital divide for all.” 


We can close the digital divide

The digital divide is a social issue which can be solved - but it requires greater investment and collaboration across government, industry, philanthropy and the community sectors. Our Blueprint outlines how.