Case study: Measuring digital inclusion in North-East Victorian SMEs with Startup Shakeup


The digital transformation of regional communities is accelerating. While many businesses and households have increased their online presence, capacity, and activities, especially through the COVID-19 pandemic, the digital divide between major Australian cities and the regions persists.

Closing this divide remains key to social and economic development priority across all levels of government and within regional businesses to ensure that its workforce is equipped with the capacities to connect and innovate for future growth needs. Specifically, the Victorian Government Digital Strategy 2021-2026 outlines its objectives in working towards fairer and more accessible digital services, capability, and a thriving economy through continued investment in critical digital infrastructure in regional communities.

The ongoing monitoring of digital inclusion across communities is key to identifying where locally based initiatives can have most impact in enhancing access to and use of digital technologies. Startup Shakeup have been at the forefront of strengthening the capacity of local businesses in North-East Victoria (NE Vic) to innovate and transform their practices through greater digital inclusion. But the evidence base is limited on the nature of digital inclusion across different industry types, sizes and Local Government Areas in the region.

To address a critical knowledge gap, Startup Shakeup collaborated with the ADII team to map the nature of digital inclusion across the workforce of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) operating in the seven Ovens Murray Region Local Government Areas: Alpine Shire, Rural City of Benalla, Indigo Shire, Mansfield Shire, Rural City of Wangaratta, City of Wodonga, and Towong Shire.

This summary findings brief presents the highlights from the NE Vic SME Digital Inclusion Mapping project in which 401 members of the region’s SME workforce completed an adapted Australian Internet Usage Survey (AIUS; Thomas et al., 2020). This is the survey used to derive the Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII), enabling direct measures of digital inclusion to be calculated using the ADII methodology.

Read the full report here.

Find out more about Startup Shakeup here.

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