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Editorial

The importance of digital inclusion in accessing care and support in our increasingly digitised world

Authors:

Lyndal Sleep ,

University of Queensland, AU
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Paul Harris

Griffith Univeristy, AU
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Abstract

The helping professions are increasingly using digital technologies like automated decision making, artificial intelligence and video or telehealth to meet the needs of their clients (Carney, 2020; Henman 2019). This trend was accelerated by the pandemic, as we relied more on digital connections and service models to ensure continuity and care during periods of lockdown and in accordance with social distancing guidelines (Meijer, & Webster, 2020). Consultations over real-time video (e.g. Zoom), once the topic of futuristic, speculative fiction have become commonplace, even mundane. Automated, digital solutions are also becoming increasingly commonplace across different human service contexts. For instance, the use of chat bots by Services Australia that use artificial intelligence to understand your questions, and answer them, have been rolled out over recent years as the number of people accessing online support during the pandemic escalated. Even facial recognition technology was trialled in Australia for the first time in a social services context, during the 2020 bushfires, allowing speedy identification and assessment of people in need after their documentation had been destroyed in the fires (Hendry, 2020). The phasing out of cash and rise of digital currencies and service platforms are further evidence that our world is rapidly becoming more digitised. Concordantly, the receipt of care and support is increasingly becoming dependent on access to digital technologies. This presents a new challenge – i.e. digital inclusion. Digital inclusion is about ensuring all can access and use digital technology and services (Australian Digital Inclusion Index, 2021; United Nations, 2021). If we aim to avoid a growing divide based on digital inclusion/exclusion, it is vital that attention to inequalities are at the forefront of our minds if the embrace of all things digital continues unabated (Crawford, 2021).
How to Cite: Sleep, L. and Harris, P., 2021. The importance of digital inclusion in accessing care and support in our increasingly digitised world. Journal of Social Inclusion, 12(2), pp.1–2. DOI: http://doi.org/10.36251/josi.252
Published on 22 Dec 2021.

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