Even before COVID-19 turned the world upside down, connected digital technologies were rapidly changing the way we live and work. Forced isolation and social distancing during the pandemic further accelerated the shift to telehealth, online learning, working from home and e-commerce, and these enablers will be very much part of the new normal. While the digital economy is generating social, cultural and economic benefits for many Australians, we know these benefits are not equally shared.
The Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) shows that Australians with lower levels of income, employment, and education have significantly lower levels of digital inclusion and are therefore not able to take full advantage of the digital economy.
Digital inclusion is based on the premise that everyone should be able to make full use of digital technologies and the benefits they bring. At Telstra, digital inclusion is our core business. We are focused on supporting those on low-incomes, people living with disability, older Australians, those living in regional and remote communities, First Nations peoples, and people who are experiencing unemployment, homelessness or family violence. We partner with government and community organisations so that those in vulnerable circumstances can not only participate, but also benefit from the digital economy. This means enhancing digital capability within our communities, ensuring our products, services and information are accessible and easy to use, and keeping people connected, especially when they are doing it tough.
In FY21 we helped one million customers in vulnerable circumstances to stay connected through delivery of specialised programs, products and services1.
The Digital inclusion pillar of our Responsible Business Strategy reflects our commitment to take a leadership role in promoting digital inclusion through programs, products, and services to enhance Access, Affordability and Digital Ability. It also reflects our commitment to enable social change through technology – using digital innovation to increase wellbeing and climate action within our communities.
For a detailed overview of our approach and performance in relation to this pillar of our strategy and related material topics, please see the Digital inclusion chapter of our Bigger Picture 2021 Sustainability Report.
1. Calculated based on the number of instances in which we provided specialised programs, products and services to support customers in vulnerable circumstances, and may include instances where a customer has accessed multiple mechanisms.