Collecting the data

Read about our annual survey, how we understand digital inclusion at the local level, and the Internet Skills Scale.

Collecting the data

As of 2021, the Australian Digital Inclusion Index is based on the Australian Internet Usage Survey (AIUS) designed by the research team and administered by the Social Research Centre at the Australian National University. The survey sample is stratified and weighted to reflect the Australian population. A first baseline survey was conducted between September and November 2020, with 2021 data collected between April and June of this year. The 2020 sample comprised 2,798 people. The 2021 sample comprised 2,287 people.

People looking at a document containing data and charts
Woman smiling and looking at laptop screen

The Australian Internet Usage Survey

The AIUS investigates who uses the internet, what benefits Australians get from the internet, and what barriers exist to accessing the internet. The AIUS changes slightly each year to account for shifts in social context (such as the COVID-19 pandemic). 

The AIUS uses a sequential mixed-mode data collection design, which allows participants to complete the survey either online or in hardcopy. To ensure the survey includes both people who use the internet and those who do not, invitations to complete the survey are sent via post. More details regarding the AIUS sampling and recruitment method can be found below.

Understanding digital inclusion at the local level

While the AIUS survey enables a national Index score for a range of socio-demographic groupings its sample size does not collect large numbers of responses for every regional area. To provide a regional view, the ADII uses a robust technique called Small Area Estimates (SAE). SAEs combine survey data with additional data from sources with broader coverage, such as the Australian Census. They are a valuable approach for enhancing the value and detail of survey results from a finite sample of participants.

In modelling SAEs for the Index, analysts at the Social Research Centre combine national AIUS survey data with the ABS Census to estimate Index scores at the State and Local Government Areas. More details regarding the SAE method can be found below.

Map of Australia with location pins stuck into it

The Internet Skills Scale

Woman sitting in front of computer studying and reading her notes

The revised ADII employs a widely used international framework for measuring digital skills: the Internet Skills Scale (ISS) [1].

Developed by leading digital inclusion researchers Alexander J. A. M. Van Deursen, Ellen J. Helsper and Rebecca Eynon, the ISS is a survey instrument for measuring six categories of digital skills: operational, navigation information, social, creative, mobile, and Internet of Things (IoT) [2].

The ADII’s Digital Ability dimension is based on a modified version of the ISS.

Our modification involved condensing the number of questions and converting some from negative to positive statements [3]. Reflecting the increased utility and uptake of mobile devices, we chose not to distinguish between digital skills and mobile-specific skills. And focusing on the growing prevalence of IoT devices and technologies, as well as their broader consequences, we refer to ‘Internet of Things’ skills as ‘Automation’ skills.

Incorporating the ISS enables more rigorous analysis and understanding of the skills that digital inclusion requires. The 2021 case study, Taking a Deep Dive into Digital Ability, provides more detail about Digital Ability in Australia.


[1] A J A M van Deursen, E J Helsper, and R Eynon, “Development and Validation of the Internet Skills Scale (ISS),” Information, Communication & Society 19, no. 6 (2016): 804–823.

[2] A J A M van Deursen, A van der Zeeuw, P de Boer, G Jansen, and T van Rompay, “Digital Inequalities in the Internet of Things: Differences in Attitudes, Material Access, Skills, and Usage,” Information, Communication & Society 24, no. 2 (2021): 258–276.

[3] A J A M va n Deursen, E J Helsper, and R Eynon, Measuring Digital Skills. From Digital Skills to Tangible Outcomes Project Report, 2014.

Scroll to Top