The lived experience of digital exclusion for low income single-parent families
ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA), $427k
Low-income single-parent Australians need to participate in the digital economy in order to access essential services, including health, education and work. However, recent research has highlighted a new dilemma: while this group cannot afford not to be connected, at the same time they are struggling to afford quality internet access. This will be the first detailed qualitative study of this under-served social group, revealing the negotiations, savings, and workarounds low-income single-parent households perform to participate in the digital economy. The research will inform current policy on digital inclusion, and revise conceptual frameworks for understanding digital inclusion around the economic costs of participation.
Advancing digital inclusion in low income Australian families
ARC Linkage (LP190100677), $697k
This ethnographic investigation explores the complex relationship between digital and social inclusion, and social infrastructure's role (education facilities, charities, government services) in supporting low-income families' social and economic participation. It gathers insights from families in six diverse communities from Far North Queensland to Tasmania, across diverse urban, regional and rural locations. It focuses on the digital inclusion implications of children's home and school learning experiences, school leavers' transitions into work, and parenting in digital times. The project is a collaboration with Australia's leading digital inclusion organisations and will develop new practices, policies and sector wide solutions.
Evaluating the Connected Students program: Removing affordability barriers for low income households
April 2020 - ongoing
This project is an academic-industry partnership between Telstra and RMIT University to contribute evidence of the significance of affordability barriers for digital inclusion, and provide insight into the lived experiences of digital exclusion through an evaluation of the Connected Students program.
Telstra’s Connected Students program aims to measure the impacts of removing affordability barriers to digital participation for low-income households in the Shepparton region. Working in partnership with Greater Shepparton Secondary College (GSSC), the program provided technology kits to low-income households with at least one youth between the ages of 15-18 in secondary education. The kits consisted of a laptop, a router, and an activated SIM providing unlimited broadband for the duration of the project (two years).
Mapping Digital Inclusion and Media Use for Informed Decision-making in Remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities
April 2021 - ongoing
People living in Australia’s 1100 remote First Nations communities are likely to be among the most digitally excluded Australians. At the same time, they are required to interact with increasingly automated digital services in areas such health, education, and social services. Access to affordable communication services and accessible sources of news and information are also essential.
Improving digital inclusion outcomes and access to services enabling informed decision-making in remote First Nations communities is therefore a vitally important national public interest objective. The research outlined here, located within the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making & Society and funded by Telstra, responds to this need by investigating the nature, challenges and impacts of digital inclusion within 8 to 10 remote Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities, and evaluating existing approaches to digital inclusion. The project will engage with these communities over 4 years, enabling comparison and insight into improvements in digital inclusion (or otherwise) over time.
The objectives of the project are to:
(1) Generate a detailed account of the distribution of digital inclusion and the uses of digital services including news and media across 8-10 First Nations communities;
(2) Track changes in measures of digital inclusion for these communities over time;
(3) Inform the development and evaluation of appropriate local strategies for improving digital inclusion capabilities and services enabling informed decision making in remote First Nations communities.
The project will focus on a cross-section of 8-10 sites with a significant Aboriginal population base and varying degrees of remoteness. This project represents an important opportunity for the measurement of digital inclusion in these disadvantaged communities in Australia, which will help policy-makers, businesses and community organisations develop more effective policies and programs to improve digital inclusion.