Many older and low-income Australians are missing out on the benefits of being online, putting them at greater risk of social isolation amid COVID-19 restrictions, new research shows. Source: Pro Bono News.
The 2020 Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) found that the rapid acceleration of the digital economy has occurred while some people still face real barriers to getting online.
The annual study – produced by RMIT University’s Digital Ethnography Research Centre and Swinburne University’s Centre for Social Impact in partnership with Telstra – explores digital inclusion in terms of access, affordability and digital ability.
It found Australians with lower levels of income, employment, and education were significantly less digitally included – signifying a substantial digital divide between richer and poorer Australians.
Lead researcher Dr Chris Wilson said while the overall level of digital inclusion has improved, the rate at which that improvement has occurred this year has slowed slightly.
He said under COVID-19, there has been a fairly rapid and expansive transformation of economic services and social practices into the online space.
People aged 65 and above remain Australia’s least digitally included age group, which the report said was of major concern given the high prevalence of older Australians living alone.
Older Australians who are digitally excluded are also at high risk of social isolation during COVID given they need to be particularly vigilant in reducing their physical social contact.
Vulnerable Aussies suffering from digital inequality (By Luke Michael, Pro Bono News)