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Digital Inclusion Action Plan released

The 2020 Digital Inclusion Action Plan was released this week, outlining a range of cross-government initiatives supporting the digital inclusion agenda that focus on key elements of access, skills, motivation and trust.

Read the Action Plan

Read the full Digital Inclusion Action Plan 2020–2021.

Kirk Mariner, Digital Inclusion Lead at the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), says: “This plan has a range of initiatives that go beyond just connectivity and also touch on accessibility, affordability, digital skills, research and digital identity.”

Before COVID-19, DIA estimated that over 1 in 5 people are struggling to engage in the digital world. During lockdown, the struggle to connect, communicate and get access to essential services became highly evident as significant numbers of New Zealanders reported their struggles.

Allocation of funding

DIA received $15 million in extra funding in the Budget as a result of the impact of COVID-19 and the expanded work programme now underway.

Of this funding, $10 million is focused on a digital skills programme for individuals and whānau. It’s expected that up to 30,000 people will be equipped with foundational digital skills and confidence to use the internet and digital devices.

The additional $5 million will help lift digital skills for small businesses. This programme will enable up to 1,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs), owned by Māori, Pasifika, or disabled people who are struggling to survive and thrive, to engage in the digital world.

Background

The Action Plan builds on the work delivered the previous year, which focussed on releasing the Digital Inclusion Blueprint – Te Mahere mō te Whakauranga Matihiko — to set out the vision for a digitally-included New Zealand.

Government’s vision: The Digital Inclusion Blueprint

Research

The Action Plan was supported by research commissioned to fill the void about digital exclusion in New Zealand. That research is now providing the basis of evidence that will be used to guide government investment.

Digital inclusion research

Among this research was the Motu report on Digital inclusion and wellbeing in New Zealand, which identified those most likely to suffer digital exclusion: disabled people, Māori, Pacific people, seniors, the un- and under-employed, those in social housing and those living in remote areas.

Research and insight gathering included in the 2020 Action Plan will continue to strengthen the understanding of the barriers and enablers to support New Zealanders to confidently connect to the digital world.

As the evidence on digital inclusion evolves, we will be able to make even more informed decisions on investment and policy. This is how we can create the right conditions to build a more equitable digital environment for all.

Kirk Mariner, Digital Inclusion Lead at DIA

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