RS2: Australia

Australia’s digital divide is not going away

According to Mai Lam, the digital divide in Australia has become a very big issue that needs to be addressed. Lam explains that the digital divide “remains largely unchanged” in Australia (1). The author provides evidence that suggests Australia’s population is growing; “[h]owever, the number of people using the internet is not growing” (3). Lam uses facts and graphs to show the trend of the use of internet across Australia. Mai explains that “age” (5) and “income” (10) play a very significant role in the widening gap of the digital divide. The author notes that the people that are “already at a disadvantage – the very people who have the most to gain from all the extraordinary resources of the internet – are missing out” (6) the most when it comes to internet access. Throughout the article, the author stresses the actual significance and impact the internet has on people’s lives. He goes on to explain how “[r]aising the level of digital inclusion yields direct benefits for [] communit[ies], government[s,] and business[es]” (7). Lam points out that every person should be given the same opportunities and should be able to stay connected and up-to-date through internet access. The author makes the claim that “Australians with higher incomes are substantially more likely to have internet access at home than those with lower incomes” (10) and that “better-off Australians appear to be doing more online” (11). Mai believes that the internet is a resource that mainly the well-off people can experience. He states that “[a]mong those who are connected, geographical differences in the means of access and modes of engagement with online services suggest[s] a further gap among those who are already disadvantaged.” (13). The way the author sees this issue is that “[c]ost [is a] major factor in keeping [many] family households [] offline” (14) and the fact that the number of “family households without [internet] access has not fallen since 2014-15 is concerning” (15). Mai states that “digital inclusion is more important than ever” (18) in today’s day and age when talking about the survey that deals with the digital divide in households. Lam explains that “[t]he digital divide is likely to grow” (21) and that the “Australian internet remains unusually unequal in terms of access and affordability” (24). The author notes that “[i]nstead of a digital economy designed for everyone, [Australia] appear[s] to have created a highly stratified internet, where the distribution of resources and opportunities online reflects Australia’s larger social and economic inequalities” (25).

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