Improving Digital Accessibility in Australia

Image source: http://www.themandarin.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/iStock_000040308390_Small.jpg

Image source: http://www.themandarin.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/iStock_000040308390_Small.jpg

Australia strongly promotes the use of ICTs for a variety of government services. However, given the digital divide in the country, they must provide digital literacy training to ensure that all citizens, particularly those with statistically lower levels of access access, such as citizen living in rural areas, older citizens, those with lower incomes, and indigenous people can use ICT tools as well.

Indigenous communities in Australia experience particularly low levels of ICT penetration. A study carried out by Swinburne University and the Central Land Council found that “only 10% of total adult participants owned their computer, and only 10% of those were connected to the internet at home.” Many of these communities are also not part of the electrical grid, and therefore rely on generators to run such devices.

To address this issue, Australia is developing a National Broadband Network. However, given the country’s low population density and expansiveness, this may prove to be a challenge. According to the report on rural education, published by the Australian Human Rights Commission, internet access in schools will play an important part in bridging the digital divide.

Finally, Telstra has also partnered with the government to promote digital inclusion through three particular initiatives:

  • Access for Everyone, which delivered digital literacy training to over 62,000 people, prioritizing vulnerable populations such as “low income households, people with disabilities, the elderly and people living in rural areas;”
  • Connected Seniors, where high school students taught senior citizens to use smart-phones and tablets; and
  • Indigenous Digital X, in collaboration with the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, to promote digital entrepreneurship among indigenous populations.

Source: Philippa Nicole Barr, The Mandarin