The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) has welcomed meaningful increase in the latest Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) score for regional Australia.
The Index, released this week, utilises survey data to measure digital inclusion through access, affordability and digital ability. The ADII is a collaboration between the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making & Society at RMIT, the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne University of Technology, and Telstra – a member of RAI’s Regional Australia Council.
Increasing regional Australia’s Index score is one of 20 targets in the RAI’s Regionalisation Ambition 2032 – a 10 year plan to ‘rebalance the nation’ and address the inequities regional Australians face on a daily basis.
RAI CEO Liz Ritchie said regional Australia received an ADII score of 69.8, which is 3.4 points less than the national average and 5.0 points less than capital cities. In 2021 regional Australia’s ADII score was just over 67.
“There have been productive gains in improving digital connectivity in regional Australia in the past two years, which we know is a critical enabler for many services and functions considered essential to a community’s liveability today,” Ms Ritchie said.
“However, there is still more work to do to close the digital divide between city and country. The RAI wants regional Australia’s ADII score to equal that of metropolitan Australia so that it doesn’t matter if you live in Dumbleyung or Darling Harbour - you can still access, afford, and have the ability to be digitally connected.
“The resilience of our regional communities will also improve with better digital connectivity in times of need,” Ms Ritchie said.
Ms Ritchie acknowledged there remained a considerable digital gap between First Nations and non-First Nations people, particularly in remote and very remote communities.
“First Nations people are some of the most digitally excluded of all Australians and industry, government, business and communities need to work together to ensure place-based solutions are devised to ensure communities don’t get left behind in this digital world we now live in,” Ms Ritchie said.
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