It’s a time of change. A time where none can be left behind. One where we must look out for everyone and ensure that inclusion remains our watchword. To secure an inclusive future, we’re continuing to build on our record of disability inclusion in our organisation and our society as part of our new Accessibility Action Plan, and our joining The Valuable 500 community.

The Valuable 500 is a collective force for inclusive good, and one that mirrors our interests in putting accessibility and inclusion front and centre. It’s a global movement that brings together leaders and organisations around the world to put accessibility on their agenda in order to drive inclusivity and change.

Currently, only four per cent of businesses around the world are focussed on making products or services that are inclusive of disability according to the Global Economics of Disability report. We’re proud to be one of the four per cent, and recognise we can all do more to make our products and information more accessible to our customers.

Since 1981 when we introduced specialised products to assist those with a disability using a telephonewe’ve been working to make our offerings more inclusive. 1996 marked the introduction of our first ever Disability Action Plan. After almost 25 years of work on inclusion, today we’re marking the announcement of our new Accessibility Action Plan to further the goal of inclusivity.

Our new Accessibility Action Plan looks at how we prioritise inclusion for our people internally, and how we externalise this to create more accessible products and services for everyone. In 2020-21, we’ll continue our focus on inclusion, with key pillars of work centred around our customers; our candidates and our colleagues.

Our new plan, and our pledge to join the Valuable 500 comes in concert with the release of the 2020 Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII). Now in its fifth iteration, the ADII shows the work that needs to be done to continue closing the digital divide, especially against the backdrop of the global pandemic.

Over the last 12 months, Australia’s digital inclusion score – an important metric that measures our online participation by indexing Access, Affordability and Digital Ability – has grown 1.1 points. Now at 63, up from 61.9, we note digital inclusion is definitely improving, but progress is slowing.

The rate of increase continues to slow, and millions of Australians still aren’t connected to a digital future. More and more, technology and connectivity are essential for being a contributing member of society. It is sobering to think that there are still many of our community who are missing out on the vital benefits they need because they cannot connect whether due to affordability or other factors.

This year’s ADII found that Australians with a disability continue to have relatively low digital inclusion. The gap between those with a disability and others is “evident across all three dimensions, and hasn’t measurably changed since 2014 when the index began. That’s why this work we’re doing is so important to improve the accessibility of our business and close that gap.

We understand that digital accessibility is vital if we’re to ensure that increased digitisation and new digital platforms do not create additional complexity for our customers. That’s why our strong focus this year is on tackling digital accessibility, to help bridge the digital divide.

Our commitment is to never lose sight of the fact that “how” we do things is just as important as “why” we do them, and ultimately we do that by being led by our purpose and values in the way we go about our work.