Eyre Peninsula worst in digital disadvantage

Eyre Peninsula has ranked as one of the worst regions for digital inclusion nationwide when it comes to access, affordability and ability to use digital technologies.

A survey revealed regional South Australia was lagging behind in the digital economy, and the Eyre Peninsula ranked the lowest in the state.

The survey by the South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) has highlighted a call for the state government to develop a strategy to overcome digital disadvantage. 

SACOSS chief executive officer Ross Womersley said digital inclusion was important for people in rural and regional areas because digital technologies had a special role in overcoming the disadvantages that arose from distance and remoteness.

“Digital technologies can link farmers to markets, give access to shops and services in regional areas – everything from banks to education and e-health, and help people and families keep in touch,” Mr Womersley said.

Elliston is renowned for having limited access to the digital economy with eftpos services being unreliable for local business and at times leaving the hospital without communication. 

The survey data is no surprise to Elliston District Council chairman Kym Callaghan who said it was impossible for Elliston to access any part of the digital economy.

“The digital economy and Elliston are like two ships passing in the night, they’re nowhere near us and we’re nowhere near them.

“One person in Melbourne or Sydney using their mobile phone can access more information than the whole town of Elliston can.

He said he recognised the changes in place to alleviate some of the problems with the Building Better Regions Fund and a new Optus tower under construction.

Mr Womersley said it was clear a strategy was needed to address South Australia’s poor performance on digital inclusion.

“We need that strategy to have a particular focus on regional and remote areas to make sure we are not leaving anyone behind in our state.”