DIGITAL LITERACY, PUBLIC POLICY AND INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES

Continuing on with the concept of digital literacies, the focus this week was why do we need to be digitally literate, and who has access to being digitally literate in the first place. It is through analysis of who has access, and who doesn’t, that an obvious trend has become evident throughout Australia, especially in relation to minority groups such as Indigenous communities.

Australia can be recognized as a multiple device nation, promoting the idea that we are a country with very high usage of digital media. Statistics are shown to reinforce this dominance of digital media within the country, where ¾ of Australian Internet users accessed the Internet on a mobile device in Australia, 87% of Australians use the Internet daily, 75% have a laptop, and 70% have a mobile phone. In comparison to these high statistics, there is a percentage of Australians who still don’t have access, 12% in metropolitan areas, and 15% in regional areas. These numbers result in the conclusion they approximately 4 million Australian people are not online, a comparison called ‘The Digital Divide’.

‘The Digital Divide’ is considered to be the gap between people who have access to information and communication technologies and those who do not, which can sometimes result in an issue of social injustice due to these limitations. Alam and Imran placed a study on a minority group in Australia, in this case refugee migrants, and analyzed their adoption of digital media and its relevance to their social exclusion in Australia. The findings concluded that “There is a digital divide among refugee migrant groups and it is based on inequalities in physical access to and use of digital technology, the skills necessary to use the different technologies effectively and the ability to pay for the services. The opportunities to use digital technology could support the social inclusion of refugee migrant groups in the broader Australian community.” (2014, p.344) These findings reinforce the ideas of why the social divide exists, and relates back to the focus topic of Indigenous communities in Australia that are also part of this divide. The issues found in regards to Indigenous communities include lack of access or a lack of education (whereby a person may not be digitally literate to use the Internet), thus showing parallels to that of the study from Alam and Imran. Furthermore, the social injustices that can develop from this include a citizen’s right to communicate, right to be entertained and the access to government services.

It is evident that there is a need for the gap between digitally literate and illiterate people within Australia to close, as with the evolving world, policy is becoming needed in regards to digital literacy. Statistics reinforce this statement, as there is a 212% increase in jobs demanding digital literacy, thus Australia needs to re-impose normativity on a rapidly fast paced technological change if individuals are to keep up and avoid social injustices due to access to communication through digital media.

Alam, K. & Imran, S. 2014, ‘The Digital Divide and Social Inclusion Among Refugee Migrants’, A Case in Regional Australia, p. 344-359.

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