A new index on digital inclusion is setting out a path for all Australians to get the vital benefits that come with internet access.
Information and communication technologies have become near-essential for everyday life, but many people in low income, remote and vulnerable communities can’t access them.
This creates a ‘digital divide’ where people don’t get the services many of us take for granted—finding jobs online, accessing critical government information, free education, and more.
“The digital divide has been a huge problem in public policy for many years,” says Professor Julian Thomas, Director of the Enabling Capability Platform for Social Change at RMIT University.
His team is investigating this digital divide with a goal to close the gap. In 2016, the researchers published the first digital inclusion index, which found that three million Australians are still not online, especially those aged over 65.
“When we can measure something, we can change it,” Julian says.
The work is in collaboration with Telstra and the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University. An updated digital inclusion report is coming out next year, and the results are already put into practice by local stakeholders.
“We have had many meetings with state governments, regional organisations, local councils, social service organisations and libraries,” Julian says.
“Our aim is to put useful data in the hands of organisations that have a stake in improving digital inclusion outcomes.
“We want everybody to share the benefits of the digital economy.”
For more information:
RMIT University Research & Innovation
+61 03 9925 4143