Libraries continue to support digital inclusion

Substantial gaps between Australians who are digitally included and those who are not continue to exist, according to the 2018 Australian Digital Inclusion Index.

In fact, that gap is widening for some groups. In Queensland, this includes the state as a whole, as well as the regions of Central and South West Queensland, and Coastal Queensland. The gap between Brisbane and rural Queensland also continues to rise.

Queensland has a lower Australian Digital Inclusion Index score than the national average, and ranks fifth out of eight states and territories.

Interestingly, while the 65+ age group in Queensland recorded the lowest score of all age cohorts in 2018, it also recorded a rise that outpaced the overall state-wide increase over the same period. The very strong gains made by this group in access and ability, however, are countered by a decline in affordability.

Bundaberg Library supporting digital inclusion

Tech Savvy Seniors Queensland training sessions, such as this one pictured here at Bundaberg Library, are supporting digital inclusion across the state.

As library professionals, we recognise the role public libraries and Indigenous Knowledge Centres (IKCs) play in providing access to and training in digital technologies.

Our shared vision calls us to provide access to information, to support learning and community wellbeing, to respond to emergent issues, and to become a trusted hub that builds social capital and supports community resilience.

Digital inclusion at Cherbourg

Libraries and IKCs across the state are enabling fuller participation in society through digital inclusion activities such as this Deadly Digital Communities workshop at Cherbourg.

The interest in promoting digital inclusion is evident in daily programming and services. From one-on-one assistance to large-scale state-wide projects, libraries’ and IKCs’ commitment to enabling full participation in our economic and social life is clear.

Since its inception, the Tech Savvy Seniors Queensland program has encouraged more than 9,800 seniors to embrace information technology through participating in more than 2,100 free training sessions offered through 30 libraries and IKCs across Queensland.

The Deadly Digital Communities program supports 26 Queensland remote and regional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to build and enhance their digital literacy skills and interact in the digital world irrespective of where they live.

It is programs, services and projects like these that must be reoccurring to ensure the digital divide does not continue to widen.