How we’re focusing on cost of living this Get Online Week
… and why it’s important for closing the digital divide. Jess Wilson, CEO of Good Things Foundation Australia explains.
Cost of living pressures are being felt by everyday Australians around the country. Essential items are going up in price. People are making hard choices about which bills to pay, which medications they can purchase and when (or if) they can buy petrol to go to work. At the same time, many essential services are going online.
Even before this, affordable access to technology and the internet was a significant barrier for many in getting online.
Half of low income households with home internet connections had difficulty paying for it. People on lower incomes often choose prepaid mobile data to support their ability to budget but, we know that pre-paid data is more expensive. And, people living in regional and remote communities often need to pay more for connections to access the same services as people living in our cities.
In a recent survey, 84% of our network of community organisations said many people in their community needed access to affordable and appropriate devices and internet connections.
Yet, there is no national program that helps people to access affordable technology and data.
Access to affordable devices and the internet is the starting place, then we need to ensure that people are confident and capable to go online. Without the skills and confidence, people are at risk of falling further behind. They can miss out on everyday activities like using banking apps, finding discounts and comparing prices, and even using their smartphone calculator apps – key activities that can help people to manage their budgets.
For many Australians, this gap in access and skills is making it harder for them to fully participate in our increasingly digital society.
This is causing the digital divide to get deeper for millions of people.
That’s why we have a special focus on supporting cost of living pressures this Get Online Week.
How we’re helping
This Get Online Week (17-23 October 2022) we are helping people to get the affordable access and digital skills they need to get online safely and confidently.
We’re partnering with one of our campaign supporters, WorkVentures, to provide a discount offer for Get Online Week event holders and attendees to purchase refurbished tech and data at lower prices.
We’ve also created three digital financial literacy and affordability resources to help people to have the skills they need to get connected affordably and save money:
- Save money and compare prices online tips
- Get Connected Affordably tips – co-written with our friends at ACCAN and Anti-Poverty Week
- Support people to learn how to compare prices online using our digital skills Activity Cards.
With our campaign supporters and research partners at QUT Digital Media Research Centre, we will be highlighting new research on how to support low income families to get online.
You will hear us online and in the media talking about the practical steps needed to close the digital divide.
And, with our campaign partners, we will be advocating for affordable internet connections for all, including sharing our Blueprint for Closing the Digital Divide.
What we really need
While we won’t solve the cost of living crisis facing many people this Get Online Week, these are important steps forward in reducing data poverty and increasing practical digital skills.
But, what Australia really needs is funding for a national program that provides free internet connected devices and data to anyone who needs it, so we can close the digital divide for all, for good.