As the world moves increasingly online, digital inclusion is necessary for people to be fulsomely engaged in economic, social and civic life. Despite that reality, many Australians remain significantly excluded from the digital world through lack of infrastructure access, affordability issues, or lack of ability to use technology.
This McKell Institute report explores the state of digital inclusion in Queensland, showing the state falls behind a number of other Australian jurisdictions on aggregate measures of digital inclusion. The report is the latest exploration of the growing problem of digital exclusion in Queensland and made its findings by examining detailed data from the Australian Digital Inclusion Index and partnering with the Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) to undertake a deeper dive into the human cost of this disadvantage.
The report draws on existing public data showing Queensland is increasingly divided between digital ‘haves’ and digital ‘have-nots.’ Geography is a big factor with people living in North West Queensland (including Cape York) less likely to use sophisticated digital technologies, and people in regional ‘Coastal Queensland’ (Mackay to Gympie) having to spend a much higher proportion of their income on digital technologies, compared to people in South East Queensland (including Brisbane).
The report reveals that when vulnerable Queenslanders are unable to afford or confidently use digital technologies, 76 per cent simply go without. Fifty-five per cent of vulnerable Queenslanders only use free wifi, 47 per cent rely on family or friends, and 22 per cent go into debt to pay for data.
On key digital inclusion measures – access to technology, digital affordability, and the ability to use technologies – the report notes Queensland ranks fifth among Australian states, behind the ACT, NSW, WA and Victoria. The leading driver of digital exclusion is data affordability.