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Delivering a ‘Connected Future’ through digital and financial capability

elderly couple looking at phone
  • Around 2.58 million Australians are not connected to the internet and many more lack the digital skills to fully participate in the online world.1
  • Residents of major cities are much more likely to have home internet access (88%) than those in remote areas (77%).1
  • Young people aged 15-17 have the highest proportion of internet use (98%), compared to older Australians aged 65 (55%).1
  • Just over half of all Australian consumers, and 79% of those aged 18-24, use a mobile banking app for most of their banking. But 50% of those aged 65+ say they would never use a mobile banking app.2

A leading humanitarian organisation and social enterprise focused on digital inclusion are teaming up with the nation’s largest credit union in an Australian first program to improve the digital and financial capability of vulnerable community members.

A staggering 2.58 million Australians1 are not online, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. And as the pace of digital change accelerates, the gap is widening between the digitally savvy and those who lack the confidence or skills to fully participate in the online world.

To tackle the challenge head on, Australian Red Cross, Infoxchange and CUA today announced a ground-breaking new collaboration, Connected Future, to coincide with World Computer Literacy Day.

“This program will bring together the partners’ collective expertise to lift the digital and financial capability of vulnerable Australians and connect them with the support they need to build a better financial future,” CUA Chief Customer Officer Megan Keleher said.

“CUA research highlights the growing divide between digital natives and those who aren’t digitally literate. While 79 per cent of those aged 18-24 use a mobile banking app for most of their banking, 50 per cent of those aged 65+ say they would never use a mobile banking app.

“This collaboration will tap into Red Cross’ significant expertise in supporting and helping vulnerable Australians, the technology and digital inclusion know-how of Infoxchange and CUA’s expertise providing essential banking and financial awareness skills to members.

“CUA has a rich heritage of helping provide banking services to those who may not be able to access them via traditional channels, and this is another way to break down the barriers.”

Ms Keleher said Australians of all ages had stories about being called on as the ‘IT Helpdesk’ for their parents or grandparents when they need to access information online.

“This is not just about helping people get connected to the digital world. This program is about building social and community connections that will help support our most isolated residents to build digital and financial capability. These skills can help open doors to services and opportunities that participants may not have realised they were missing out on.”

Red Cross Head of Community Programs Rushda Halith said the collaboration was addressing a very real need in the community.

“While we know older Australians can be digitally isolated, digital and financial literacy barriers can be faced by people with a disability, culturally diverse communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other vulnerable groups. This includes low income households, people experiencing unemployment or those living in remote areas,” Ms Halith said.

Infoxchange currently offers digital skills training through their Digital Springboard program with Google. Around 10,000 people across Australia have attended Digital Springboard courses, reporting a 78 per cent increase in confidence. Infoxchange CEO David Spriggs said this program would build on Digital Springboard to improve financial capability.

“Many of the people with the most to gain from the social, educational and financial benefits of being online are missing out, and those who are digitally excluded often lack the financial skills to manage their everyday finances,” Mr Spriggs said.

“Through our collaboration, CUA, Red Cross and Infoxchange will bring deep expertise in helping vulnerable groups to develop skills to confidently manage their money online. Working together, we can create a unique and more holistic training program that helps lift financial capability – skills that will be life changing for many people.”

Through CUA’s involvement, the outreach program will be significantly expanded with plans for:

  • Financial education modules to be integrated into the Digital Springboard program;
  • An opportunity for up to 1,000 CUA team members nationally to participate in skilled volunteering to deliver training and outreach to vulnerable and at-risk groups;
  • A co-design approach involving the three partners and other community stakeholders, which will identify and develop innovative solutions to help reach digitally excluded Australians at scale.

“CUA is incredibly proud to contribute to this Australian first. We look forward to making positive change to improve the financial capability and wellbeing of Australians,” Ms Keleher said.

  1. Australian Digital Inclusion Index 2019
    Household Use of Information Technology, Australian Bureau of Statistics (March 2018.)
  2. Enhance Research commissioned by CUA (December 2018, May 2019)