Bridging the digital divide means accommodating diversity

It is the responsibility of government to provide technologies and design services that are universally available, accessible, affordable and accommodate diversity, both technical and human.

It would be easy to think that the notion of a “digital divide” is now outdated. Whose life isn’t digital in some respect these days?

As shown in the recent Australian Communications and Media Authority report, Australians’ digital lives, 92% of Australians use the internet across a range of technological devices. This suggests only a small minority of Australians are not using the internet. Perhaps they can’t due to lack of availability or they don’t out of choice.

But if we dig a little deeper, the digital divide re-emerges. The 92% of people online includes anyone who has accessed the internet in the past six months, even if just the once. It gives no indication of frequency of use, levels of digital literacy or how active those Australians are online.

Therein lies the problem. The report, and other studies of internet usage, are focused on the range of technologies being used and the demography of who is accessing the internet.

FREE membership to The Mandarin

Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.

The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.