THE INDIGENOUS DIGITAL DIVIDE

The digital divide can be defined as those who are accessing the benefits of computers and the internet and those who aren’t, as such this is influenced by the level of access, affordability and awareness (Rennie 2016). Rennie (2016) discusses this digital divide in reference to what is experienced by remote indigenous communities and the impacts this has on their social interactions as well as the way they communicate outside of their community.

In 2018 over 80% of  Australia’s population had access to technological devices as well as the internet compared to remote communities that have a small number of technological devices but all have no access to the internet (Rennie 2016). Although public funded government initiatives have attempted to provide digital access to remote communities the community in question the Mungalawurru community is considered to be to small to be seen as eligible, having a significant impact on the communities lifestyle and their ability to engage with society outside of their community. Rennie (2016) poses the question as to whether social exclusion is the result of digital exclusion as a lack of access would normally contribute to an increased desire for such digital services due to the social contributions that they may provide.

However, the Mungalawurru community shows little desire to connect to the internet and ultimately be digitally literate for social reasons and this may be attributed to the already intricate social connections that are the result of the kinship system that is significant to Australia’s Indigenous communities.  In comparison Dyson et al (2015) suggests that Indigenous people are using mobile device to bring their communities into the twenty-first century. As they have the power to address issues of isolation and building an environment that supports the benefits that those not affected by the digital divide.This notion is supported by Andreasson (2015) who argues that the rapid development of the information society also increases the many consequences that are more apparent than ever for those who are not able to take advantage of them ; such as the Mungalawuru community.

 Ultimately societies culture is more than ever constantly rooted in our ability to be socially present on a digital scale although as a result taking away from the individual’s choice to whether or not they want to be digitally aware. It is now central as to how an individual and communities are seen as e-cluded and socially aware in order to be considered as digitally literate.

Indigenous holding a child with an ipad/tablet in her hands
Image- The Conversation 2016, Indigenous woman and child holding tablet

WORD COUNT: 408

REFERENCES:

Rennie, E., Hogan, E., Gregory, R., Crouch, A., Wright, A. & Thomas, J. 2016, Internet on the outstation: the digital divide and remote Aboriginal communities, Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam.  Pp. 13-27

Dyson, L., Grant, S., Hendriks, M., 2015 Indigenous People and Mobile Technologies, Routledge, Abingdon United Kingdom. pp 237-304

Andreasson, K. (2015) Digital Divides: The New Challenges and Opportunities of e-Inclusion, CRC Press

Images – Ellie Rennie, Tyson Yunkaporta, 2016, Aboriginal communities embrace technology, but they have unique cyber safety challenges, viewed 28 August 2018, <http://theconversation.com/aboriginal-communities-embrace-technology-but-they-have-unique-cyber-safety-challenges-69344>

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