20 October 2021
The release of the Australian Digital Inclusion Index 2021 shows Tasmania is still the most digitally disadvantaged state in Australia and not enough is currently being done to bridge the divide.
TasCOSS CEO Ms Adrienne Picone said while the Tasmanian Government’s announcement of four Digital Ambassadors was positive, the fact that Tasmania has trailed behind the rest of the nation for many years points to the need for urgent action if we are serious about shifting the dial when it comes to digital inclusion in Tasmania.
“Tasmania’s digital inclusion score has improved gradually, however, the majority of Australia is improving at much faster rates, resulting in Tasmania going backwards in comparison,” Ms Picone said.
“This is really concerning, especially in the areas of digital skills, ability and confidence where Tasmania is lagging well behind. Improvement in these areas is paramount to changing our state’s fortunes when it comes to lifting education outcomes, literacy and numeracy skills, employment prospects and productivity.
“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.
“In today’s world, digital access and skills are essential for a number of functions, be it applying for work, remote learning, seeking assistance or social interaction. This was highlighted by the COVID-19 lockdowns and reflects the need for much stronger action by government, as well as business and communities, if we are going to improve Tasmania’s digital inclusion rates.
“The Tasmanian Government can no longer continue to play down Tasmania’s poor digital inclusion scores or hide the real issue of Tasmania going backwards when compared to the rest of the country.”
Ms Picone said TasCOSS is calling on the Tasmanian Government to consider a range of solutions to address the digital divide.
“These actions include the introduction of a telecommunications concession for people on low incomes as well as grants for community services organisations to allow service users to access digital devices and data,” she said.
“We are also calling for devices and data to be provided to all government school students, from upper primary onwards, along with a commitment from both federal and state governments to work with telecommunications companies to introduce low cost plans for mobile and broadband.
“Also critical to improving Tasmania’s digital inclusion outcomes is the establishment of a digital consumer reference group to provide advice and feedback on the implementation of PESRAC recommendations 33 and 34 as well as the Tasmanian Government’s Our Digital Future strategy.
“A digitally included Tasmania is one where all Tasmanians participate in our digital economy to find and maintain work, access education, health services and government services, maintain social connections and find reliable information, especially in times of crisis.”
For more information or to arrange an interview with TasCOSS CEO Adrienne Picone contact:
- Cameron Allen, 0419 769 253 or via email.