Why Digital Inclusion can take Australia forward

When we talk about the incredible amount of digital development we’ve seen over the last twenty years, it’s hard not to be swept up in optimism and excitement. In many ways, we’re living in a Golden Age of connectivity and the rate of change is showing no sign of slowing.

However, it’s also incredibly important to remember that not everyone’s experience of this era is the same.

While it’s not clear exactly how many Australians aren’t online, some estimates put it at four million adults. That’s one in five adult Australians.

Currently three out of four people do not use government services online because of a lack of skills and confidence.

The digital age should be about connection, information and staying in touch. It should also be about providing easier, simpler access to essential services, like health, government services and education.

In this new digital era, online presence has real life resonance. It’s the way important news is communicated, the way communities band together and the way social organisation takes place. Being able to access online services can make life simpler but being able to access information online is also increasingly vital to social participation.

I am genuinely passionate about the opportunities that come from binding and strengthening communities, and the central role digitisation now plays within this. Not only can digital access and confidence to get online help create a thriving, inclusive society, it can also enable the creation of a stronger, more dynamic economy.

And that’s why we are thrilled to be partnering with Infoxchange to launch 2016 as the National Year of Digital Inclusion.

The National Year of Digital Inclusion is an integral part of a four-year digital literacy program that will see a range of organisations across Australia working together to bring digital access to more Australians all over Australia.

Australia Post has always played a role in connecting communities and our partnership with InfoXchange is an extension of our commitment to help foster greater access to essential services and participation in a digital world.

It comes from a commitment to ensuring all Australians have the opportunity and confidence to get online – including our most marginalised communities.

We need to shed more light on how people are affected, where they are, and how best to help them. To that end, Australia Post has launched a nationwide study to measure this. The study will be the largest of its kind in Australia. It is being undertaken in partnership with Monash University and follows an exhaustive review of activity globally.

We also need to make the internet, with all the potential for connection work for more people. There are a large number of people who are online but aren’t confident in accessing digital services. These people are in your life. It’s so important that we each take the time to recognise who these people could be.

As we launch this exciting and vital initiative, I find myself reflecting on what life would be like without the skills that allow us to stay connected. It would look extremely different. Digital skills are now such an important part of contemporary literacy and it’s important we all take the time to share and learn from one another.

The National Year of Digital Inclusion is an incredibly important chance to support all Australians. With digital inclusion comes a better understanding of one another, more connection between individuals and communities, and greater opportunities for us all.

Please visit GoDigi for more information on the program.

To understand what people really want from digital services and what we can learn from global best practice, read our insights paper, Choice and convenience drive ‘digital first’ success.

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