Closing the Digital Divide: Regional Tech Hub Launches

08 February 2023

New initiative launched to bridge the ongoing connectivity gap between city and country

People living in regional and rural areas of Australia are still considerably less 'digitally-included' than their metro peers and more than 10 per cent of Australians are 'highly excluded' from digital services.

Connectivity Month encourages people living in rural, regional, and remote Australia to reach out to the Regional Tech Hub (RTH) for independent and free support to get connected, stay connected, improve their connection, or better use their connection

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A report from the Good Things Foundation, Digital Nation Australia 2021, also cited research by Better Internet for Rural, Regional & Remote Australia, that discovered a distinct gap in digital skills for people living in regional areas, particularly around connecting to the internet, due to a range of factors, such as the rapid pace of improvements to digital access in these areas and a lack of tech advisors located in regional areas.

The Regional Tech Hub (RTH), Australia’s leading provider of independent and free digital connectivity advice and support, was established as a centralised resource to provide non-metropolitan residents with the critical support to navigate the complex world of phone and internet connectivity and technology options. It provides information about digital technologies, services available, equipment solutions, setup, and installation.

People living and working in rural, regional, and remote areas of Australia make up approximately 30% of the Australian population but are lagging behind their metro cousins when it comes to digital inclusion, with the Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) being 5.5 points lower in rural areas (67.4) than capital cities (72.9).

With more people working remotely and the move of many essential services such as banking, health, education and government services to online platforms, digital skills are becoming increasingly important.

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The 2021 Australian Digital Inclusion Index found that 11% of Australians (about 2.8 million people) are ‘highly excluded’ from digital services, meaning they don’t have access to affordable internet, or they don’t know how to use it.

And while Australia is ranked in the top 20 countries for digital readiness, without digital inclusiveness across all geographic areas, the risk of digital exclusion in regional areas increases, and the risk of the country-city gap widening increases. Digital exclusion could see lost opportunities and restricted options for work, education and social connections for people living in regional and remote areas. By providing a singular resource through the Regional Tech Hub, more residents in regional, rural and remote communities can get connected, stay connected, improve their connection or better use their connection.

There are a range of resources on the Regional Tech Hub website to help people understand their phone and internet connection options, troubleshoot faults and improve their digital connections. Follow along on their Facebook page this month as they share some exciting new resources.

The Hub aims to build skills, confidence and literacy when using the technologies, to ensure digital inclusion across Australia, regardless of people’s geographic location. People need to be connected and confident to use the internet and digital technologies, and able to do this in an affordable manner.

The Regional Tech Hub is an Australian Government initiative and was developed and is managed by the National Farmers’ Federation and the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.

If you are experiencing connection issues, or have questions about the options available to you, visit the Regional Tech Hub website, call 1300 081 029 or follow on Facebook or Twitter.

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