Digital inclusion improves social inclusion, and to lift New Zealand’s digital capability is to lift social outcomes for all. InternetNZ and the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation welcome Out of the Maze as an opportunity to give a platform to voices of those who experience digital exclusion.
New Zealanders have come a long way in making the most of the Internet. The Ultra Fast Broadband and Rural Broadband rollouts have made New Zealand a leading digital nation. But while we are making strides in some areas, the effects of digital exclusion are impacting some of our most vulnerable people and communities.
Over recent years we have seen some great research coming out of government and civil society, articulating the urgent need, and the opportunities of digital inclusion. Most recently, two stand out pieces of research have created a baseline for what digital inclusion needs to look like for New Zealand:
“Digital Inclusion in New Zealand: Government Policy approaches and initiatives” (2017) Cat Soper for The Innovation Partnership.
“The Pulse of our Nation”(2017), Digital Inclusion Research Group, for the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.
Earlier this year, InternetNZ made a bold call for universal access to the Internet for all New Zealanders in our work, Solving Digital Divides Together. As part of this work, InternetNZ said that New Zealand needs to “uncover the lived experience of digital divides, and to get everyone invested in overcoming digital divides, this work requires listening to the needs of people who experience digital divides.”
This paper aims to fill the gap identified in the current research. It is focused on hearing and learning from the voices of those with lived experience of digital exclusion. In order to create a more just and equitable digital landscape, we need to recognise the importance of the knowledge contributed by those most affected, or we risk perpetuating their marginalisation and creating solutions that don’t adequately remove barriers to participation.
While not exhaustive, this research marks the beginning of a new conversation - one that gives primacy to the adage ‘nothing about us, without us’. We believe placing the voices of those with lived experience at the centre of the conversation will help us achieve our goals and vision of a digitally connected Aotearoa New Zealand.
The Vodafone New Zealand Foundation is committed to providing young people with the resources and opportunities they need to thrive. Our goal is to halve the number of excluded and disadvantaged young people in Aotearoa New Zealand by 2027. It’s an ambitious, complex and multifaceted goal and we recognise the important role digital inclusion plays in achieving it.
InternetNZ works for a better world through a better Internet. We believe that that Internet access for all New Zealanders will unlock the transformative benefits of ubiquitous connectivity.
While the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation and InternetNZ seek to improve the lives of New Zealanders in different ways both organisations wholeheartedly believe that digital inclusion improves social inclusion. We’ve chosen to partner with The Workshop as we saw a strong alignment with their kaupapa, using values based research and stories to build a more inclusive New Zealand.
This research aims to go beyond price and infrastructure challenges and explore other facets of digital exclusion, emphasising both systemic drivers and the everyday impacts of digital exclusion. It highlights the connectivity challenges faced by those in positions of vulnerability, or in the process of significant life transitions, and points to changes in systems and processes that could alleviate these pressures.
Out of the Maze shows that it is critical to work with communities who are affected by digital exclusion and keep their voices heard. This means:
enabling community led development - collaborate, co-design, bring everyone on the journey
building capacity of communities to solve their own problems
understanding and hearing the voices of vulnerable New Zealanders
continuing to ask the question: what does it mean to be a digital society?
Thank you for taking the time to read this report. We welcome you into our journey of helping to improve the lives of New Zealanders.