Changing socio-economic factors

When asked to describe the causes of digital exclusion in Aotearoa, people talked about the social and economic conditions experienced by many people in our country. These included poverty, family and sexual violence and intergenerational trauma, institutional racism, homelessness and poor quality housing, unemployment and insecure work.

“The worst case end of the spectrum for our kids is that they have access to everything in terms of social behaviour, or alcohol or drugs. They’re exposed to domestic violence, so the least of the parent’s worries is Internet safety.” – Kawerau Wananga

When asked how they would increase digital inclusion, not many people suggested changing these underlying socio-economic factors. When probed on this, the general message we heard was that people had low expectations or hope that the wider conditions driving social exclusion could or would be changed in their communities. In some interviews, this lack of hopefulness was itself identified as a symptom of intergenerational disadvantage.

Some participants had ideas about how people could be better insulated from the stress and stigma that was created by being forced to apply to an institution to meet your daily needs. For example, the approach participants proposed for allocating free wifi packages to women coming out of refuges was designed to avoid forcing these women to repeat their stories, and thereby reduce shame and stigma in a way they thought would improve on the way they have to apply for benefits or other government support.