More work needed for digital inclusion at home

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Friday, 26 February 2016 12:12pm

A newly-released report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) lists the number of households with access to the internet at home as 7.7 million in the last financial year, representing 86% of all households, up 3% from 2012–13. However, a recent discussion paper shows that there are one million people with a reported disability who do not have internet access at home.

Left hand pressing a holographic play button

The ABS Household use of IT study, released on 18 February 2016, shows that the number of Australians accessing the net is continuing to rise, albeit at a slightly slower rate than in past years.

Internet users were asked about their participation in selected internet activities in the last three months. In 2014–15, the four most popular online activities were: banking (72%), social networking (72%), purchasing goods or services (61%), and entertainment (60%).

Overall, internet use was highest among the younger age groups (people under the age of 35). Those aged 15–17 years old most commonly went online for social networking (91%), followed by entertainment and formal education activities (73% for both). For those aged 65 years and over, the most common activities online were the same as for all internet users: banking (50%) and social networking (43%).

Yet the Australian Digital Inclusion Index report published late last year paints a different picture for those with a disability, who have a lower rate of internet access than the general public.

The index defines ‘digital inclusion’ as using online and mobile technologies as channels to improve skills, enhance quality of life, drive education and promote economic wellbeing across all elements of society, just as much as it is about computers, the internet and technology in general.

The paper notes that 1 in 5 Australians (equating to around four million people) are not able to take advantage of the health, educational and social benefits of being connected. Out of these four million people, one million of them with a reported disability don’t have home-based internet access.

Further information on the project can be found on the Digital Inclusion Index website.

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