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NSW launches digital inclusion strategy consultation on equitable service access

NSW launches digital inclusion strategy consultation on equitable service access

The New South Wales (NSW) government has initiated a call to action for local communities, industries, community organizations, and government agencies, in a bid to collaboratively shape the state’s inaugural digital inclusion strategy.

Developing the first digital inclusion strategy in the state, the consultation process will commence with community members providing feedback on a discussion paper. Additionally, targeted stakeholder meetings, interviews, and focus groups will contribute to shaping the strategy.

The strategy, along with an accompanying action plan, will serve as the framework for identifying, delivering, and funding future digital inclusion initiatives. It will also build upon existing government and community-led programs aimed at enhancing digital inclusion across NSW.

Digital inclusion, as defined by the government, encompasses ensuring equitable opportunities for individuals to access, afford, and engage with digital technologies, services, and online resources.

Groups such as those residing in regional, rural, and remote areas, socio-economically disadvantaged communities, culturally and linguistically diverse populations, individuals with disabilities, gender-diverse individuals, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, are identified as facing barriers to digital inclusion.

The NSW telco authority will lead the development of the strategy as part of the NSW government’s broader connectivity strategy, which aims to narrow the digital gap for communities with limited access to digital services.

Jihad Dib, minister for customer service and digital government, emphasizes the importance of ensuring that no individual is left behind in an increasingly digital landscape. “In an increasingly digital world and with a shift towards online service delivery, including digital identity, healthcare, banking and social care, it is critical that no one gets left behind,” he states. “We want to work towards a future where everyone in NSW, regardless of their age, background, or location, can access and use digital connectivity and technologies.”

The public is encouraged to participate in the consultation process or learn more about the NSW digital inclusion strategy. Additionally, individuals can gauge their area’s digital connectivity status by accessing the NSW telco authority’s newly launched digital connectivity index.

This comes after data from the 2023 Australian digital inclusion index report underscores the urgency of addressing digital exclusion as nearly one in four Australians face digital exclusion due to factors such as access, affordability, and digital ability. Among NSW’s efforts to step up digital inclusion are the launch of digital birth certificates and a plan to issue digital IDs to state residents.

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