Digital inclusion in New Zealand
As we make services better for users through digital technology, it is essential that we work to make sure every New Zealander can access this digital world.
Whether it’s going online to access a public service or just to share the latest meme, for most people engaging with the digital world it is pretty much second nature. And if you’re reading this the chances are this includes you.
But it doesn’t include everyone. The reality is many New Zealanders are either unable or unwilling to do so confidently.
What is digital inclusion?
Digital inclusion can be defined as an end-state where everyone has equitable opportunities to participate in society using digital technologies.
Why does digital inclusion matter?
With more services going exclusively online, particularly government services, those of us not able to access those services are becoming increasingly disadvantaged.
And even beyond accessing services, a growing body of research indicates digital engagement can play a significant role in improving social outcomes and individual wellbeing through opportunities available in the digital world.
What is already being done to achieve digital inclusion?
There is a range of both government and non-government organisations already doing important work enabling people to engage with the digital world and access the opportunities it offers.
But until now there has been little collaboration between these different efforts and limited focus on the wider picture of digital inclusion for all.
The government’s digital inclusion work programme intends to lead, connect and support a coordinated approach to these various works for the best chance of making New Zealand, and all New Zealanders, fully digital.
The government’s digital inclusion work programme
In 2018 the Minister for Government Digital Services commissioned the Department for Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua (DIA) to explore what would be needed to achieve digital inclusion in New Zealand.
DIA spent time speaking with New Zealanders from Kaitaia to Balclutha to find out about their digital experiences and what struggles they face in engaging with the digital world.
The culmination of this engagement is the Digital Inclusion Blueprint.
Te Whata Kōrero: a storehouse for Māori aspirations
The government’s work towards digital inclusion also embodies Te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi principles. This includes making sure tāngata whenua have input into decisions relating to digital inclusion and are involved at all levels of this work.
To do this, DIA is developing Te Whata Kōrero, a call to action for tāngata whenua to provide leadership on digital inclusion-related issues, alongside government. DIA will make sure Māori experts in the field, and mandated Māori-led organisations, are supported to collectively work towards a world-leading, indigenous-supported digital future.
The role of government for digital inclusion
There are numerous initiatives already underway, in both the government and non-government sectors, which are enabling people to engage with the internet.
However, many of these programmes only focus on helping their identified audience become digitally included and do not consider how that might contribute to the wider goal of total inclusion nationwide.
The role of the government’s digital inclusion work programme is to have that wider focus.
While much of this work will be led by DIA, it will be important for all digital inclusion initiatives across government to be connected and work together.