Affordable access for all
Affordable access remains a key barrier for many Australians to be digitally included.
Not everyone has the digital devices or internet access they need to get online. Making sure all Australians can affordably access the internet and have the appropriate computers, smartphones or tablets is crucial to solving Australia’s digital divide.
Our Blueprint to Close the Digital Divide calls for:
- Support for low or no-cost internet connections and data initiatives for those at greatest risk of digital exclusion.
- Funding for digital devices and loan initiatives within community-led digital inclusion programs.
The Digital Economy Strategy 2022 aims for all new businesses to be ‘born’ digital, all Government services to be available online, and 95% of small and medium enterprises to use e-Commerce tools. But this vision can’t succeed when affordable access remains a key barrier for many Australian consumers using technology and the internet.
Low or no cost internet connectivity for those who need it most
Affordability measures from telecommunications companies, such as the community organisation-delivered Telstra Bill Assistance Program and recently extended hardship agreement provision, are a welcome step in the right direction. However, there still needs to be a low or no cost option for all Australians to get connected in the first place.
A national ‘databank’ is needed so Australians can use donated data to connect with essential online services and support without financial stress.
Good Things Foundation’s UK branch has successfully implemented a national databank program that has connected hundreds of people to mobile data. The UK National Databank provides free sim cards and mobile data to those who need it, with data donated by telecommunications providers Virgin Media O2, Vodafone and Three, as well as community organisations nationwide. A similar initiative by the Smith Family and Optus shows a data donation model works in Australia.
A national databank requires collaboration and backing from government, businesses, telecommunications providers and the community sector.
However, mobile data alone will not close the digital divide. A mobile connection is not always sufficient for data-intensive activities like video calling for work or school – an affordable home internet connection is also needed.
Good Things Foundation Australia, alongside over 25 other organisations, have pledged support for ACCAN’s No Australian Left Offline policy proposal for affordable NBN for all. Low income families would be eligible to access unlimited high speed broadband internet at home at a wholesale price. If implemented, ACCAN estimates the policy would be Federal budget neutral, while low income households would pay only $30 per month to be connected to unlimited, high speed internet connections.
One million low-income households are at risk of not switching over to NBN without affordable home broadband (ACCAN)
Digital devices for all, at all times
Without digital devices to connect to the internet, the issue of access still remains.
During the pandemic, 75% of Good Things Foundation Australia’s network of community organisations said that some or all of the people they support to learn digital skills lacked digital devices to use at home. While loan digital device grants and state-level COVID responses provide a short term answer, longer term solutions at every level are required to ensure consistent access to digital devices for all.
This means making permanent emergency digital device measures where viable and embedding digital device provisions for all into policy. The much-needed national Digital Inclusion Strategy is one way this could be achieved.
Distributing digital devices through the community sector means that people have access to a suitable device and are supported to use the device in a trusted environment. Building in the option of funding for digital device provisions into grants for community-led digital skills and inclusion initiatives would create comprehensive and efficient programs.
National device banks are also a solution. In the UK, Good Things Foundation recently launched the National Device Bank, which aims to provide 2 million households with refurbished donated devices free of charge. These devices are donated by businesses nationwide and then distributed via local community organisations.
National device and data banks in Australia could go far in connecting Australians without internet access. This requires investment from major telecommunications companies, businesses and government to create a sustainable data and device bank system.
Blueprint to close Australia’s digital divide
Read more on how we can work together to close Australia's digital divide for all, for good.
Blueprint to close Australia’s digital divide
Our recommendations on how we can work together to close Australia's digital divide for all, for good.
Digital skills support for everyone
It is not enough to have access to technology – everyone also needs to have the skills and confidence to use it.
National digital inclusion strategy
To close Australia’s digital divide and become a world-leading digital economy, National Digital Inclusion Strategies are necessary.
Let's make a difference
To close Australia's digital divide for all, greater investment and collaboration across government, industry, philanthropy and the community sectors is essential. Get in contact with us to discuss how we can work together to help close Australia's digital divide.Contact us