Thursday, 18 February 2021 11:10

Aussies have a ‘preference’ for digital engagement with Government: survey

By
Suzanne Steele, Vice President of Adobe Australia and New Zealand Suzanne Steele, Vice President of Adobe Australia and New Zealand

The majority of Australians now have a preference for digital engagement with government, and for that engagement to be tailored to them, according to a new report which also found that almost nine in every 10 Australians looked for government services online in 2020 and that Australians aged 15-and-over transacted with government on average more than once a week. 

However, when people did seek information from government sources including websites, call centres and in-person, many reported a range of frustrations, with some 75% citing long hold times, 59% said they were unclear when they would get the requested information, and one in two people (53%) said there are too many passwords to remember. 

The joint report by Adobe and Deloitte - Blueprint for Enhanced Citizen Experiences - reveals that since the COVID 19 pandemic began, websites across government have had 1.7 billion visits, and now new research reveals that three in four Australians (76%) are more or equally likely to use government websites if they are personalised and tailored to their unique digital profile.

And when asked about preferred communication channels, over half (56%) of Australian adults stated their preferred access to government information is online.

However, one in two (50%) still encountered inconsistent information across departments and agencies, and 22% said they had to check multiple sources when searching for government information.  

“This report underscores the importance of enabling the kind of personalisation that citizens are calling for and future data legislation should support such efforts,” says Suzanne Steele, Vice President of Adobe Australia and New Zealand. 

“ It also highlights the current absence of a unified ‘digital front door’ to government services and information. Australians are needing to invest too much time researching for important information published across disparate departmental websites.

“The data states three in four Australians today want a personalised digital experience from government. By reading the signals that citizens elect to share online, government can personalise an individual’s digital experience based on their needs and digital profile, while honouring user choices. ” 

According to Steele, the existing deficit in a citizen’s digital experience may explain why so many Australians are still turning to non-government sources like search engines, businesses or media articles for government issued public information.

The report notes that real-time government information has been vital during the pandemic, in particular around case numbers, contact-tracing, restrictions and many citizens have become more reliant on government than ever before.  

Forty-one percent of people surveyed relied on search engines when looking for government-issued public information, and only one quarter (27%) of Australians said they went first to government websites. 

In 2020, 70% of Australians went looking for public health updates, yet only 24% said they accessed that information directly from government sources.  

Another key finding from the report is Australians ranking ‘trust’ as the most important factor when seeking public information. 

The report reveals that three in five people (60%) surveyed placed ‘trust’ as number one in their top three important considerations when trying to access public information. 

And the next two most important considerations were ‘easy-to-understand’ (54%) and ‘most-up-to-date’ (53%) - and since the pandemic began, citizen trust in the Australian governments and agencies has been reported as being on a strong upward trajectory.  

“There is a commonly held misconception that citizens are reticent to share information with governments and don’t want personalisation, but our research states otherwise,” said Steele.

“In fact, eight in 10 Australians (81%) said they are more or equally likely to use a government service if it remembered previous interactions on all government websites, and 77% said they are more or equally likely to use a government service if it used their location to provide information specific to their needs. 

“Government must move from a one-size-fits-all approach to deliver the right information at the right time to individual citizens. Beyond driving efficiencies for both parties, this shift to personalisation has the potential to strengthen public service outcomes and continue to build on already increasing levels of trust in government,” Steele concluded.  

Deloitte Australia Chief Executive Officer, Richard Deutsch, said the report conclusively reveals that digital has become the medium of choice for Australians seeking government services and information. 

“The current focus on the digital economy presents a timely opportunity for government to better meet the needs of its citizens,” said Deutsch.

“The next step in the government’s digital transformation is to provide each citizen with a more personalised digital experience, directing them to the information they need based on who they are by reading the signals that citizens choose to share online.

“Government can instill greater trust as they support each Australian with relevant information and more efficient service delivery, and citizens can feel more assured they will get the outcomes they seek and spend less time doing so. Therein, a compelling value exchange.”

To access the full report by Adobe and Deloitte click here.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - an iTWire treasure is a mentor and coach who volunteers also a writer and much valued founding partner of iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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