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Making Australia a digitally-inclusive society

The challenge: Understand the barriers to digital inclusion

Partner: Australia Post

Year: 2017

Despite what we hear about the take-up of digital technology in Australia, figures suggest that one in seven of us (around three million Australians) rarely or never use the internet. While this may be a choice for some, others risk being left behind as more and more services shift online.

The recently-formed Australian Digital Inclusion Alliance (ADIA) is a shared initiative involving over 100 business, government, academic and community organisations, which are working together to reduce the digital divide and enable greater social and economic participation for all Australians. The alliance is backed by Australia Post, Google and Telstra, with participants throughout the country from all sectors.

What did we do?

To get a better idea of where we, as a society, stand in this regard, Australia Post engaged BWA to conduct formative research on this technological divide.

The research involved a rapid literature review to understand the drivers and barriers to technology use and the effectiveness of interventions to improve people’s uptake of digital technology.

A national survey with 1,584 Australians was also conducted to measure online behavioural preferences, internet attitudes, digital self-efficacy and access.

What did we find?

Digital inclusion is no longer limited to issues of access such as infrastructure, speed and cost; now it’s about giving people the social support, skills and confidence they need to move foward, with more user-focused and collaborative designs required to increase engagment.

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Analyses of the survey results and behaviourally-informed typologies (people who behave in similar ways) confirmed five profiles of internet users: ‘Non-Users’, ‘Sporadic Users’, ‘Social Media & Entertainment Users’, ‘Instrumental Users’ and ‘Advanced Users’.

Each group differed significantly on key demographic indicators and, more importantly, non-demographic internet characteristics.

The findings provide useful learnings for tailoring digital inclusion programs to the needs of specific user groups.

Publications

Findings from this reserach were published in a Digital Participation whitepaper here.

A paper entitled “Digital inclusion and online behaviour: five typologies of Australian internet users” was recently published in the journal, Behaviour & InformationTechnology.