news Special Minister of State Gary Gray said in a statement yesterday that the Internet constitutes the preferred method of access to government services, backing his statements with the release of a new report in the area.
The report, titled Interacting with Government: Australians’ use and satisfaction with e-Government Services 2011 and available online, concerns Australians’ use of e-government services. It indicates that the Internet, when available as a choice, is the most frequently used channel to get in touch with government.
Gray explained in a blog post on the blog of the Australian Government Information Management Office that the government had initiated a series of six surveys in 2005 when only 19 per cent of Australians used the internet for their most recent contact with government. The 2011 study is the sixth and final among the studies, and was commissioned by the Australian Government through AGIMO in the Department of Finance and Deregulation. Gray felt that the 2011 study demonstrated a high overall satisfaction with government online services, while pointing out the need for improvement in convenience, availability and channel features of online services.
Gray specified that satisfaction with government websites continued to be high, and that, since 2009, Australians had expressed significantly increased satisfaction with the way government websites are designed to enable quick service delivery. The report shows that four in five people (82 per cent) use the Internet primarily because of its convenience. Reasons for contacting the government varied from seeking and providing information to receiving and making payments.
According to Gray, 46 per cent of Australians specified their preference for the Internet over other forms of contact. “When the internet is an option, in 2011 nearly half of Australians (47 per cent) used it in their most recent contact with government,” Gray stated. The research also noted significant growth in mobile phone use and use of similar portable devices to access websites, as well as continuing growth in use of social networking sites and text messaging.
Reasons for not using e-government services included availability, access, infrastructure, channel features, awareness, content, convenience, security and privacy concerns. Some people expressed a preference for dealing with a ‘real’ person (17 per cent), while others were not sufficiently familiar with navigating the website (6 per cent).
While Australians in older age groups continued to take up new communication technologies, including e-mail, SMS and social networking sites, those in the over 65 age group indicated their need for better skills and improved access to e-services. With regard to level of government, the Australian Government was the most commonly accessed (49 per cent), while state and territory (23 per cent) and local government (28 per cent) had similar levels of contact.
“People now more than ever expect government to provide its services online wherever possible. The challenge for government is to continue to deliver quality online services and to keep pace with new technologies” Gray said. He expected the opportunities for greater engagement with citizens online to increase thanks to the National Broadband Network’s rollout of high speed broadband and the fast-growing utilisation of novel communications technologies.