Australians are using digital government services platforms more than ever before, but regional residents are lagging in the uptake, a survey has found.

The survey of more than 1000 Australians, conducted by PwC Australia, found the digitisation of vaccine certificates and check-in apps have positively impacted people’s perceptions of government services in the past few years.

But of people surveyed in regional Australia there was only a 34 per cent increase in use compared to 43 per cent in metropolitan areas.

Additionally, only 14 per cent said their digital experiences have been better than they were pre-COVID compared to 23 per cent of city residents.

PwC Australia partner Diane Rutter says while the survey did not delve into the reasons for the disparity, research suggests digital affordability and barriers to digital access in regional Australia could be contributing.

The survey found while most people expect governments to use and store their data ethically and securely, only 38 per cent are more comfortable sharing their data online than attending a government services centre in person.

“Crucially, digital services are making many people feel connected. However, there’s still a way to go,” Ms Rutter said.

“Citizens won’t embrace services unless they’re sure their data is secure.”

Ms Rutter says governments could build trust by communicating what they are doing to improve data security.

While the survey found government services are meeting people’s needs, it also found people feel overloaded by the number of different services and more could be done to consolidate them.

Of people surveyed, 46 per cent say an increased range of channels has made accessing government services more confusing than ever before, up from 40 per cent in June 2020.

Ms Rutter says in the rush to innovate and improve more should be done to ensure it is not made more difficult for people to access the services they need.


Maeve Bannister
(Australian Associated Press)