decorative yellow dots

Just as cost was often the first barrier to be identified by participants, reducing or removing the cost of Internet access was often the first suggestion people had to improve digital inclusion. The suggestions here ranged from the broad (reducing poverty or providing free Internet everywhere) to the specific (free 24 hour community Internet spaces or wifi packages for women coming out of refuges).

Other commonly proposed solutions included a whole range of ideas about how to overcome trust, safety and resilience issues. For example we heard a range of proposals for more humane designs for software, like making social media less addictive, pop-up reminders to be kind while using social platforms or messaging apps, integrating information about the reliability of sources in a Google search result or designing software to proactively encourage perseverance.

Another design-based suggestion was for an online directory or portal that young people facing financial or other barriers could use to access important sites and services for free.

“If they could have access to a directory of services or resources at their fingertips … an online correspondence school, ACE programs to do their CVs and their licenses, their numeracy and literacy, these all rely on them being able to access the Internet. A one stop shop program that would allow these youth to access the services they require, the special needs services.” – Youth worker, Westport

Lots of participants proposed more training, especially for parents, both on the benefits and importance of the Internet and on ways to ensure that they and their children are using the Internet in healthy ways. Some proposed a nationwide awareness campaign on Internet safety, with a focus on privacy and simple things to do to stay safe online.

People suggested that more could be taught at school about how to use the Internet in a constructive and safe way - including more skills in researching online, identifying mis- and dis- information and discerning between good and poor quality information.

Another set of suggestions were aimed at structural, or systemic, change. People suggested that we needed to address intergenerational trauma in order to reduce family and sexual violence and increase mana and hope in individuals. People also identified the need to address a range of factors that contribute to social exclusion more generally including institutional racism, homelessness, unemployment, disability, mental health and the stigma often attached  to all of these experiences.