Today’s announcement by InternetNZ of a 5-point digital inclusion plan for presentation to government has been welcomed by the Digital Inclusion Alliance Aotearoa (DIAA).
Barbara Craig, Chairperson of DIAA, commented that a particularly welcome aspect of the plan was its focus on people. “We totally recognise the importance of people having access to affordable devices and internet connections”, she said. “But it is important to acknowledge the need to go further and provide ongoing support and training for users, and we are delighted to see that the plan does this.”
“A generous Community Lottery grant has supported DIAA’s Stepping UP digital literacy programme for the last three years, but we look forward to the day when this training just becomes part of business as usual for local community organisations; the digital inclusion 5-point plan takes us a step closer to this outcome”, Ms Craig said.
The Covid-19 lockdown has catapulted digital inclusion into the limelight; it would be hard to find any government agency, business or community organisation that doesn’t now recognise digital inclusion as a community-wide priority. “The internet has suddenly become so much more important, as businesses, schools and libraries have been forced to close their doors”, said Laurence Zwimpfer, Operations Director for DIAA. “But the good news is that like medical supplies and food, there is plenty of internet to go around,” he said.
A big focus for DIAA during the last 7 weeks has been in helping people from digitally disadvantaged communities take the first step and get connected to the internet. Working in collaboration with the Spark Foundation, Skinny and 170 community partners, 3600 more households now have a Jump broadband internet connection. “What makes this particularly exciting is how quickly people from all digitally excluded groups have responded to this opportunity,” said Mr Zwimpfer. “While the largest single group has been families with children (36%), over half of all the connections have come from just five groups – people living in rural communities, seniors, people with disabilities, people living in social housing and Māori and Pasifika youth, each group involving between 450 and 550 people.”
“Our immediate focus for DIAA as the Covid-19 lockdown ends is to provide support to the 500 seniors who have connected to the digital world using Jump during the last 7 weeks,” concluded Ms Craig.
About Stepping UP
Stepping UP provides free community-based training that builds people’s digital skills and knowledge in small easy steps, in subjects that are relevant to participant’s life or work. Each self-paced module takes two hours, in a relaxed and sociable space, in a local library or community training centre. Classes are supported by helpful and friendly tutors.
Skinny Jump is one of the initiatives delivered as part of the Stepping Up programme. Jump is a subsidised pre-pay internet service for households that struggle to afford commercial ‘on account’ internet plans.
A new Stepping UP initiative for seniors (Better Digital Futures) will be launched in 2020. This provides a combination of face-to-face classes as well as online training and support to help seniors with common online tasks, such as banking, shopping and engaging with businesses and government agencies online.
Stepping UP classes have been temporarily suspended during the Covid-19 lockdown, but will resume as soon as social distancing restrictions are removed www.steppingup.nz
About Digital Inclusion Alliance Aotearoa (DIAA)
The Digital Inclusion Alliance Aotearoa was established in 2018 to foster socially inclusive communities where everyone has equitable opportunities to meaningfully engage with digital technologies, and benefit from the use of them.
It aims to enhance the confidence and capability of people living in New Zealand to engage online to advance their own education, employment, health and wellbeing as well as that of their whānau.
The Alliance acts as a catalyst for digital inclusion initiatives, by working with local communities, not-for-profit organisations, business enterprises and government agencies to pursue a shared digital inclusion vision.
Any organisation or individual working to achieve a more digitally included community is welcome to become a partner of the Alliance. www.diaa.nz
For further information contact
Barbara Craig, Digital Inclusion Alliance Aotearoa, 021 486 900 firstname.lastname@example.org
Laurence Zwimpfer, Digital Inclusion Alliance Aotearoa, 027 430 6737 email@example.com
Sue Kini, Stepping UP Programme Manager, 027 313 3447 firstname.lastname@example.org