Why does digital inclusion matter?

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Benefits of digital inclusion

Digital inclusion helps build a strong economy and an inclusive society.

Digital inclusion allows us to communicate with friends and family, volunteer, find work or change jobs, gain skills and education, seek government support, and access financial, health, entertainment, goods, and other services, including timely information during emergencies.

It allows us to participate in our community, benefiting individuals and the economy.

Government services perform better when people have access to the online world, improving efficiency and helping to ensure no‑one is excluded.

For businesses, improving our online capabilities means:

  • greater efficiency, productivity and cyber security
  • access to new online markets
  • business growth and innovation with better technology and more productive, capable workers
  • reshaping traditional recruitment practices

All Victorians benefit.

Challenges of digital inclusion

We’ve seen the benefits and possibilities of interacting and working online during the pandemic. We’ve worked from home. We’ve learned and trained online. We’ve connected with family and friends on video calls. We’ve bought goods and services, attended medical appointments using telehealth, and found and shared public health information. Businesses and community organisations have rapidly adapted to the online world.

But not everyone could participate, and the benefits were not equally shared, adding to existing disadvantages.

Many things contribute to poor online access, including socio‑economic, educational, literacy, age, cultural and geographic factors. The most significant factor is low household income.

The most digitally disadvantaged Victorians are:

  • people with low educational attainment
  • people in low-income households
  • Victorians with disability
  • senior Victorians
  • public housing tenants
  • people who are not working
  • regional Victorians
  • First Peoples

Keeping Victorians safe online

Digital advancement brings risks.

Not everyone wants to use services online. For example, some people with cognitive disabilities may find it challenging to use some websites, and some older people may struggle with new technology. We must ensure people who don’t go online still have everything they need.

Emergencies are challenging and highlight the importance of resilient and accessible telecommunications services to connect people and share important messages.

Online threats can cause problems, and governments play a role in legislating, regulating, and educating people to reduce harm from privacy and security breaches, scams, fraud, and harassment.

Victoria’s Cyber Strategy 2021 was developed to support a cyber safe Victoria.

Everyone can support digital inclusion

Governments are working with the private and community sectors to improve online inclusion.

The Commonwealth Government regulates the industry and ensures all Australians can access adequate telephone and internet services.

The Victorian Government is investing to improve services to meet business and community needs. We are investing through partnerships with industry and the Commonwealth Government, and through Connecting Victoria.

The $550 million Connecting Victoria program is improving online access by upgrading infrastructure in regional Victoria and outer suburban Melbourne. It will improve broadband and mobile coverage by seeking co‑funding from telecommunications providers and the Commonwealth to better connect as many places as possible, as quickly as possible.

We are also working with local government to improve online services in places such as public libraries.

Industry and community organisations are working hard to improve online access across the state, creating new opportunities for their customers and clients. Many are keen to scale up their work and expand their reach.