Media release: New research shows digital skills are a ‘must’ not a ‘nice to have’
National digital inclusion charity Good Things Foundation has released new research revealing that many Australians are feeling overwhelmed due to constant changes in technology and the increasing costs associated with getting online.
- New research reveals two-thirds of Australians aren’t confident in their ability to stay up-to-date with changes in technology.
- A staggering one in four Australians are considered digitally excluded with the gap between younger and older generations widening.
- National charity, Good Things Foundation Australia is urging people who need a helping hand to get online to participate in one of hundreds of free digital skills events this Get Online Week (16-22 October).
The internet has become an integral part of everyday life, from staying connected with friends and family, to paying for bills and accessing government and health services.
However, new consumer research from national digital inclusion charity Good Things Foundation reveals one in three (34%) Australians either feel overwhelmed with the constant changes in technology or are unable to keep up.
CEO of Good Things Foundation, Jess Wilson, says that digital skills and affordable access to the internet are not luxuries, they are fundamental human rights that enable people to participate in society.
“So many aspects of our lives now happen online with our research revealing that 86% of Australians use the internet to pay bills or bank online while over half use it to access government and health services,” says Wilson.
“In today’s world, digital skills are a ‘must’ not a ‘nice to have’.”
Good Things Foundation is encouraging people who need support to gain digital skills this Get Online Week 2023 (16-22 October) to attend a free community event happening across the country.
This week, more than 500 community organisations have received grant funding from the Department of Social Services to hold free events that will support thousands of people to get online safely and with confidence. Events are being held in a range of locations – from capital cities to regional centres and rural towns.
“These local events reach people in need of digital support, who may otherwise get left behind,” says Wilson. “Get Online Week will change the lives of many digitally excluded Australians, for good.”
The ability to adapt to new digital tools and technologies can be overwhelming for some people, especially with constant changes and updates. But Australians are seeking out support to learn new digital skills and feel more digitally included in today’s fast-paced technological society. According to the research, nearly a third (31%) of respondents say they seek out opportunities to widen their digital skills and knowledge. Meanwhile, one in four (23%) say they need more support to keep up to date with changes in technology.
The research reveals some are struggling to keep up with tech more than others with seven in ten (70%) of those aged over 65’s say they struggle to keep up to date. More than one in four people with a disability and people who don’t speak English at home feel overwhelmed with constant changes in technology.
If a person isn’t supported to get online, safely and with confidence, or they can’t afford to pay for data or an up-to-date device, they are at risk of being digitally excluded from society. The economic and social ramifications of digital exclusion are alarming.
According to the Australian Digital Inclusion Index, almost one in four people across the nation are currently classified as being digitally excluded from society.
While it also highlights that affordability has improved at a national level, there is an increasing affordability gap for people on low incomes. Currently, they need to pay more than 5% of household income to maintain quality, reliable connectivity.
Research from Good Things Foundation shows that price hikes have people across the country questioning whether they can afford to use the internet with 46% of Australians thinking the cost of living increases have impacted their ability to get online. Significantly, one in five (19%) people have had to choose between paying for their internet/phone or other essential items like food or housing.
First Nations Australians living in regional locations are also struggling, as one-in-two (48%) are digitally excluded. This is largely attributed to access, with research revealing over a third (36%) have unreliable internet connectivity – that’s 22% higher than the national average.
“Ensuring all Australians can get online is essential to increasing social and economic participation,” says Wilson. “Learning to use technology and the internet is not only crucial to stay connected with loved ones and keep up to date with the world around us, it’s also essential to apply for jobs, learn new skills and bank online money.”
This Get Online Week people will have the chance to find the support they need to improve their digital skills and get motivated to learn more.
“Whether that’s learning how to access craft tutorials on YouTube, virtually travelling the world or learning how to use a smartphone, tablet, or computer, community organisations will be helping everyday Australians to improve their digital literacy and close the digital divide this Get Online Week.”
To find an event in your area, visit aus.getonlineweek.com or call 1300 795 897.
About Good Things Foundation Australia
Good Things Foundation Australia is a social change charity helping people to improve their lives through digital. Good Things Foundation Australia works in partnership with eSafety and the Department of Social Services to deliver the Australian Government-funded Be Connected program for over 50s, supporting more than 3,500 community organisations nationwide to deliver digital skills programs in their local communities.
Find out more via www.goodthingsfoundation.org.au
About Get Online Week 2023
Get Online Week is run by Good Things Foundation Australia with community grant funding provided by the Department of Social Services. Each year, hundreds of free events are held across Australia, designed to support and motivate people to get online safely and with confidence.
Get Online Week 2022 will be held nationwide from 16 – 22 October 2023. Find out more via www.aus.getonlineweek.com
About the research
The research by The Good Things Foundation was carried out on a national representative sample of 2000 Australians aged 18 and over in August 2023.
Methodology: The data sample was weighted against ABS data for age, gender and location using an online survey that is independently conducted and verified by PureProfile.