Government action can achieve digital inclusion
23 Feb 2021
More than ten percent of New Zealanders have limited or no access to the internet. That’s over half a million people, and the Public Service Association says it’s time for this digital exclusion to end.
"The biggest barrier to internet access is poverty and people of all ages are excluded. If you can’t get online or you don’t know how, it’s difficult to find employment or deal with government agencies," says PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk.
"People who can’t use the internet are vulnerable to exploitation and struggle to participate fully in their community. The world has increasingly shifted online, and everyone should have the tools and skills to navigate that space."
The PSA advocates the provision of universal basic services to all New Zealanders, as part of an ‘Aotearoa Wellbeing Commitment’.
31% of those in social housing and 29% of Disabled People do not have internet access.
To help tackle this problem, the PSA says free public internet access should be provided in all central and local government buildings, and free wifi should become a standard feature in all public and social housing.
Those accessing services for the elderly or Disabled should receive free access to the internet, and training support to ensure they can use it.
"Thousands of PSA members work in our public libraries, and a big chunk of their day is often spent helping the digitally excluded to send emails or understand complex online applications," says Ms Polaczuk.
"Thousands more work for agencies like Kāinga Ora or MSD, and they do it because they know all New Zealanders deserve a strong safety net and an equal shot in life. If you grow up in a house with no internet, your options are limited by a lottery of birth. It’s time for that to change."