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Nearly 1/3 people in social housing can’t access internet

Research released today identifies eight groups of Kiwis disadvantaged through lack of internet access.

For example, new research shows nearly one in three people living in social housing can’t access the internet.

Digital Inclusion and Wellbeing in New Zealand, a research report by Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, identifies people in social housing, people with disabilities, Pasifika, Māori, people living in larger country towns, people over 75, the unemployed, and people not actively seeking work as being the least digitally included in society.

Digital Inclusion and Wellbeing in New Zealand highlights the need to improve access to the internet for these groups to ensure they are able to more fully participate in important civic activities such as voting and to ensure they enjoy a sense of social connectedness and personal wellbeing.

DIA acting Deputy Chief Executive and Deputy Government Chief Digital Officer Ann-Marie Cavanagh welcomes the report’s findings encouraging organisations such as government agencies, businesses and non-government agencies to use them to improve internet accessibility for the New Zealanders with poorest rates of internet access.

“This report is an important addition to the government’s growing knowledge of digital inclusion in New Zealand – particularly when it comes to shedding more light on access to the digital world,” she says.

In May, government launched a strategy and action plan for digital inclusion called The Digital Inclusion Blueprint, Te Mahere mō te Whakaurunga Matihiko.

The Blueprint identifies four elements necessary for someone to be considered ‘digitally included’. They are access, motivation, skills and trust.

Ms Cavanagh says: “The challenge now is for organisations involved in digital inclusion, from government agencies, to private tech companies to NGOs, to use the research to ensure all New Zealanders have what they need to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from the digital world.

“This research makes it clear that some people are missing out on what the digital world offers. We know digital exclusion creates inequality in society. It increases social and financial disadvantage and it affects personal wellbeing and the economy.

“Ensuring all New Zealanders are included requires everyone to play their part – from government agencies to telcos and start-ups to the many community groups who provide services at the coal face. This important research begins to give us all direction on who most needs our support and where to most direct our efforts.”

Background

Dr Arthur Grimes, Senior Fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, was the lead author of the research.

Findings include:

• 69 percent of those living in Housing NZ (or local equivalent) social housing report having access to the internet, compared with 91 percent reporting access across all respondents in 2017.

• In 2018, 17 percent of people with disabilities indicated having no internet access compared to all respondents at five percent.

• Other groups with low rates of internet access identified by the research included: Pasifika, Māori, people living in larger country towns, people aged over 75 years, unemployed people, and those not actively seeking work.

Note, research questions about internet access, used in the findings above, asked an individual to tick yes to one or more of:

• having access to the internet at work

• having access to the internet at home

• having access to the internet on mobile

• having access to the internet somewhere else.

The no internet category was applied to individuals who ticked no access to the internet and did not tick yes to any form of internet access.

To read the report, go to: www.digital.govt.nz


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