TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: Auditor-General highlights the Tasmanian Government’s fragmented approach to digital inclusion is failing

30 June 2022

The latest Report of the Auditor-General highlights a glaring lack of action on closing the digital divide, despite continued warnings from TasCOSS, community groups and industry that Tasmania must lift off the bottom of the Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) by improving our digital access, affordability and skills.

The report clearly states that ‘the barriers faced by many people who were digitally excluded to accessing services and information remotely were not addressed well at a strategic level during the pandemic,’ which was compounded by the ‘lack of a clear governance framework for improving population digital inclusion prior to the pandemic.’*

TasCOSS CEO Ms Adrienne Picone said repeated calls and budget proposals to the Tasmanian Government to improve access for the 65,000 Tasmanians unable to participate online have largely been ignored.

“Despite an identified need, there was no additional funding for consumer-focussed digital inclusion initiatives in the latest State Budget,” she said.

“The need to act is clear and we are concerned responsibility for digital inclusion is currently fragmented, contributing to a lack of coordination and real, targeted action.

“Without a lead agency charged with addressing and improving digital inclusion, Tasmanians will continue to miss out on the many benefits the ability to get online brings.”

Ms Picone said the Government’s Our Digital Future strategy describes high level objectives for addressing accessibility, ability and affordability, but lacked actions, key performance indicators and timelines for closing the digital divide.

“It was particularly disappointing that evidence in the Budget Estimates Committee hearings confirmed the PESRAC recommendations in relation to digital inclusion have still not been implemented and the Government has not acted to set clear performance targets for closing the digital divide,” she said.

“We have moved a long way past digital access and skills being about streaming TV shows or being able to use a social media platform — digital access and the ability to use digital technologies is now an essential part of life, in much the same way as our access to and ability to afford electricity and water.

“Be it remote schooling, accessing banking services, maintaining social connectedness or researching and applying for jobs, having access to devices and the internet has never been more vital.

“TasCOSS is committed to working with Government and key stakeholders to bridge the digital divide, and has proposed establishing a Digital Consumer Reference Group (DCRG) to support the Government to deliver improved digital inclusion outcomes.

Report of the Auditor-General: COVID-19 — Response to Social Impacts: Mental Health and Digital Inclusion, p. 7.

For more information or to arrange an interview with TasCOSS CEO Adrienne Picone, please contact: