Key findings and next steps

Explore key findings and next steps from the latest wave of the study

Key findings

71.1
ADII Score

Digital inclusion at the national level continues to steadily improve. Recent years have seen an increase in Australia’s average Index score from 67.5 (2020), to 71.1 (2021), to 73.2 (2023).

0
First Nations digital gap

There is a considerable digital gap between First Nations and non-First Nations people in Australia. The digital gap in 2023 is 7.5. The gap is particularly pronounced between First Nations and non-First Nations people living in remote (21.6 points) and very remote (23.5 points) locations, although it exists across most areas regardless of remoteness. Access is a critical issue in remote First Nations communities.

0 .0
Capital city gap

The persistent divide between capital cities and other parts of the country continues to narrow. However the Digital Ability gap, in particular, remains considerable. Areas outside capital cities recorded a 2023 Index score of 69.8. This is 3.4 points less than the national average, and 5.0 points less than capital cities. The Affordability gap between capital cities and other parts of the country remains narrow (0.4 points), however the Digital Ability gap remains considerable, and has increased from 7.0 to 7.7 points.

10.6 %
Highly excluded

The number of Australians who are highly excluded has declined but remains substantial. 9.4% of the Australian population is highly excluded, registering an Index score of 45 or below. This is down from 10.6% in 2021. However, some groups – particularly people over 75 years of age and those who did not complete secondary school – continue to experience higher levels of digital exclusion.

70 .0
Access score

Access scores are increasing at the national level, but these improvements are not evenly shared. While the national Access score has increased from 70.0 in 2021 to 72.0 in 2023, several groups remain well below the national average. These include First Nations Peoples living in remote and very remote communities (over 37 point gap), people over 75 years of age (18.0 point gap), and those in the lowest income quintile (14.7 point gap).

93.1 .0
Affordability score

Affordability has improved at a national level since 2021, however some groups experience much greater levels of affordability stress. The Affordability score has improved nationally, from 93.1 to 95.0. However, substantial numbers of Australians continue to experience affordability stress, meaning they would need to pay more than 5% of household income to maintain quality, reliable connectivity. These include people with disability (55.1%, down from 72.0%), people living in public housing (64.1%, down from 80.2%), people over the age of 75 (65.2%, down from 80.7%), and people who are currently unemployed (69.4%, up from 62.0%).

64.4
Digital Ability score

Digital Ability has improved nationally, although not for everyone. The national Digital Ability score has increased slightly from 64.4 points in 2021 to 64.9 in 2023, and people with high levels of digital inclusion are seeing steady gains in their Digital Ability levels. However, those with lower scores are not experiencing such gains, with some groups seeing declines in Digital Ability scores over the past three years, including people in the lowest income quintile (43.5; down 2.2 points) and Australians aged over 75 (23.3; down 3.9 points).

9.6 %
Mobile-only users

The number of mobile-only users has slightly increased, from 9.6% in 2021 to 10.5% in 2023. In general, mobile-only use is associated with lower levels of digital inclusion. Some groups, including people in very remote areas (32.6%), First Nations people (21.3%), and those on the lowest incomes (20.7%) continue to be overrepresented in their reliance on mobile-only access.

47.4
Age 75+

Digital inclusion remains closely linked to age. The gap between younger and older Australians has grown slightly, especially for Digital Ability. Despite gains in overall scores between 2021 and 2023, people aged over 65 maintain lower scores than the national average. Those aged 65-74 record scores 12.1 points below the national average, while those over 75 record scores 24.6 points below. For people over the age of 75, disparities in Digital Ability (41.6 points below the national average) and Access (18.0 points below the national average) are considerable.

25.2
Income gap

Digital inclusion increases with education, employment, and income. Australians with a bachelor degree or higher recorded an Index score of 79.9, 23.6 points higher than those who did not complete secondary school (56.3). Employed Australians registered an Index score of 79.5, 12.7 points higher than those presently unemployed (66.8). In 2023, there was a gap of 28.8 points between people in the lowest and highest 20 percent of household income. This gap has increased over the past three years – jumping from 25.3 in 2020, to 26.5 in 2021, to 28.8 points.

78
Couples with children

The composition of households matters. Households with children continue to have higher total Index scores. Couples with children are the most digitally included household type, recording an Index score of 80.2 (7.0 points above the national score). Australians who live alone are comparatively much less digitally included, registering an Index score of 64.0. This is 16.2 points lower than couples with children, and 9.2 points below the average national score.

60
People living in public housing

Housing tenure matters. People living in public housing recorded an Index score of 11.6 points lower than the national average, with digital inclusion scores among this group growing more slowly than the rest of the population.

Next steps

First Nations woman using a laptop in the park on a sunny day

Ongoing measurement of the national digital inclusion landscape is vital for planning responses and solutions on the ground

The 2023 ADII reveals the evolving and multifaceted nature of digital inclusion in Australia. The findings reveal persistent evidence of digital inequalities, alongside changing patterns of internet use, and some widening gaps between digitally included and digitally excluded Australians.

While overall Index scores are improving, and the percentage of digitally excluded Australians continues to fall, a substantial gap remains between people with low and high incomes, older and younger people, and unemployed and employed people, particularly in terms of Digital Ability.

The increasing shift towards digital services and the demands for faster connections and more data for work, learning, and entertainment create new pressures. These pressures are experienced unevenly, with mobile-only internet users, and regional, remote and very remote communities at particular risk of falling behind.

Sustaining Affordability in the context of inflationary pressures and the deepening cost of living crisis will be a key challenge.

Despite positive improvements in Affordability, many people are still missing out, including people with disability, public housing residents, those over 75 years old, those who are unemployed, and those living in remote parts of Australia (see the 2023 Affordability case study).

Access presents an ongoing digital inclusion challenge, especially for those outside major population centres. More work will be required to support equitable outcomes and better access for those regional and remote communities most in need.

Detailed findings from the Mapping the Digital Gap project will inform the targeted measures needed to make a difference for First Nations peoples

In 2023 we can provide the first reliable measure of the digital gap for First Nations peoples through detailed sampling of remote communities and boosted sampling in metropolitan areas. This provides a valuable baseline to track progress on the target of equal levels of digital inclusion for First Nations Peoples (see the 2023 First Nations case study).

More work is needed to understand digital inclusion specifically for regional and urban First Nations populations to adequately measure progress on Closing the Gap Target 17. We believe the best way to achieve this is in partnership with First Nations communities, individuals and organisations.

We will continue to refine and update the way we measure digital inclusion to account for emerging automated systems, including those using artificial intelligence

Digital services continue to change rapidly. The increasing pace of innovation in automated services, including those built upon artificial intelligence, is creating important new digital capabilities. Emerging technologies such as generative AI have many potential benefits, but they also entail risks, including the entrenchment of existing inequalities, and the creation of new patterns of disadvantage.

In this context of rapid change, programs that effectively address inequalities in digital skills and capabilities are more important than ever. Many not-for-profit organisations, educational institutions, public sector agencies and communities have taken up this challenge. However, the evidence shows that despite the tangible gains that have been made, we need to do more. Progress towards a more digitally inclusive Australia will require renewed commitment from all levels of government, private industry, education, the not-for-profit sector, and the broader community.