Rural and regional areas of SA are falling behind in a digital sense, compared with metropolitan areas in the state, as well as interstate non-metro areas.
According to data released by the SA Council of Social Service earlier this week based on the recently-released 2021 Australian Digital Inclusion Index, SA lags behind the national average for digital inclusion by 2.1 points, with regional SA less included than Adelaide.
Almost all regional local government areas in SA scored below the state average, and was less digitally included than non-metro areas nationally.
The data showed Roxby Downs is likely to be the most digitally-included place in SA, likely due to a relatively younger population, and high employment and income levels.
SACOSS chief executive officer Ross Womersley said digital technology was vital, particularly in rural areas.
"Digital inclusion is important in general because commerce, employment, education, social interactions and government services and information are all online, so being online is necessary to fully participate in society," Mr Womersley said.
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"In regional SA, it is increasingly essential and basic because digital technology can help overcome social isolation and distance from all sorts of vital services and markets."
"The lower regional scores are not simply about poor services or network gaps. They are also crucially about social access and ability to utilise digital technology, so areas with lower incomes, higher levels of unemployment or older populations are likely to be the most digitally excluded."
Mr Womersley said improving digital inclusion in rural areas would require a lengthy commitment.
"We know the SA government recognises this problem and we welcome the fact that they are now working on a state digital inclusion strategy," he said.
"However, to continue to improve our digital inclusion will require more than just a strategy, it will require a long-term investment of resources to make it happen."
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