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Demands for budget to address SA's "digital disadvantage"

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The State Government should host a “digital inclusion” summit and provide unmetered access to all of its websites, the SA Council of Social Service budget submission says.

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In its budget wishlist released today, SACOSS outlined measures to combat what it says is a local “digital disadvantage” relative to other mainland states.

“We think it’s really significant, in part because a lot of the jobs that have disappeared out of our economy have been driven [out] by technology and digitisation,” SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley told InDaily.

He said there was also a requirement for jobseekers to be “digitally competent”, with “governments and large organisations making the primary ways in which we interact with them subject to our capacity to use their digital interfaces”.

“That leaves, particularly, people on low incomes at a potential disadvantage,” he said.

“It’s a myth that everyone is online. We know that large numbers of disadvantaged South Australians do not have the phone and internet access needed for job-hunting and training, and to interact with businesses and government departments.”

SACOSS want a dedicated strategy to boost IT skills, with a taskforce to be established and a roundtable to be convened in the latter part of the year.

They also want unmetered website access for Government portals, such as bill-paying sites.

The welfare group is also calling for a $250 million Community Housing Loan Scheme, a $20 million Community Centres Building Scheme
and the appointment of a Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, to work hand-in-hand with the Commissioner for Children and Young People finally appointed this week.

“We continue to be deeply concerned about what’s happening for our brothers and sisters in the Aboriginal community, particularly around the child protection system but also the youth detention system,” Womersley said.

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