Mapping the Digital Gap
Focus Area: News and Media
Research Program: People
Improving digital inclusion outcomes and access to services in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is critically important for informed decision making and agency. People living in Australia’s 1100 remote Indigenous communities are likely to be among the most digitally excluded Australians. The Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) found that people in remote communities often have extremely limited access to digital infrastructure and services and encounter very high costs for internet access, especially in relation to their income.
The Mapping the Digital Gap project is a four-year research project conducted by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision Making and Society in partnership with Telstra. Working with 10-12 remote First Nations communities over three years, this project will:
- Generate a detailed account of the distribution of digital inclusion across Indigenous communities;
- Track changes in measures of digital inclusion for these communities over time;
- Inform the development and evaluation of appropriate local strategies for improving digital inclusion capabilities and services enabling informed decision making; and
- Provide evidence to inform policy and program resourcing by government and industry.
Research sites have been identified based on criteria to ensure a diverse national sample, and the research team is working closely with local and regional agencies on all community-based research and the analysis of results to ensure the project adheres to local policies and cultural protocols, community trust and engagement, and to ensure the research addresses local needs and provides benefit to the community.
The data collected through the Mapping the Digital Gap project will enable comparison with national results collected for the ADII. This will enable measurement and tracking of the scale of the digital gap for remote First Nations communities. With a new Closing the Gap target of equal levels of digital inclusion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by 2026, this project aims to provide data to inform policy and programs to help close the digital gap.
2023 Outcomes Report
27 September 2023
This first outcomes report provides an overview of the first year findings from 2022 research visits. It covers key survey results and indicators of the digital gap; context and findings for each of the ten research sites; and analysis of results across the three ADII dimensions of digital inclusion – Access, Affordability and Digital Ability – as well as the crucial role of service delivery and news and media access in these communities. Case studies, photos and quotes from interviews highlight the on-the-ground experience for residents and service providers across the research sites.