Measuring what matters: Digital ability is key to modern life for all Australians

Posted on 14 Aug 2023

By David Spriggs

Barrier digital exclusion

The federal government's recently announced Measuring What Matters Framework, which covers digital ability, is welcome news for those who are digitally excluded, says Infoxchange CEO David Spriggs.

Digital exclusion is a huge barrier to many Australians, blocking access to educational, financial, health and other services that many of us take for granted.

So the Federal Government’s recently announced Measuring What Matters Framework, which covers digital ability, is welcome news for those who are digitally excluded.

Measuring What Matters is Australia’s first national wellbeing framework and will track the country’s progress towards a more healthy, secure, sustainable, cohesive and prosperous Australia.

The accompanying Measuring What Matters statement was released just days after the latest Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) data, which showed that while Australia’s digital divide is narrowing, it remains substantial, with around one in four Australians digitally excluded or highly digitally excluded.

Digital technologies – and the ability to confidently, safely, and independently use them – are required for all Australians in a contemporary economy and society, for access to work, learning and life.

This includes being able to access essential services such as health, education and the myriad of government services accessible online, along with finding and undertaking employment, progressing along a career path, and being socially connected.

The Government’s decision to use the ADII as the metric for measuring digital preparedness is a welcome move. It shows that the government recognises the importance of digital ability in Australia, and this shouldn’t be understated.

Competent use of digital technology across the Australian population has the potential to significantly improve our productivity.

Almost all jobs in a modern economy require a basic level of digital ability, and in the case of highly skilled technical jobs, digital ability is a necessary foundation on which to build the technical skills required.

The Australian Digital Inclusion Alliance (ADIA) and the Future Skills Organisation (FSO) have commended the government for integrating digital inclusion – including the three pillars of access, affordability and digital ability – into the wellbeing framework.

The ADIA – which I chair – is an alliance of over 500 business, government, academic and community organisations working together to accelerate action on digital inclusion.

Member organisations conduct research and practical programs aimed at reducing the digital divide and enabling greater social and economic participation for all Australians.

The FSO and the ADIA are jointly undertaking collaborative work with a range of stakeholders, seeking to gain consensus on a Digital Capability Benchmark for access to work, learning and life in Australia.

This work will be critical in galvanising efforts across a range of organisations and sectors to significantly improve on current levels of digital ability - a key input to digital inclusion as incorporated into the Measuring What Matters Framework.

David Spriggs is the CEO of Infoxchange and Chair of the Australian Digital Inclusion Alliance. He is passionate about creating a more digitally inclusive society and the role technology can play in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the not-for-profit sector.

Online forum: Digital Capability in Australia: Unpacking digital preparedness for access to work, learning and life

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