Without access to computers and the internet, disadvantaged students are getting left behind

Life in today’s digital world is ever-changing. Online learning and flexible work arrangements are transforming how we study and work. And digital technology is creating new possibilities for the type of work we do. Yet many disadvantaged students don’t have access to computers or the internet at home.

Only 68% of children aged 5 to 14 in Australia’s most disadvantaged communities access the internet at home, compared with 91% of students from the most advantaged communities.1 Without the internet to research and complete homework, disadvantaged students fall further behind at school. Later in life, they lack the skills they need to take part in our digital world.

digital-divide

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Jason, sponsored student

Jason is in his third year of university and aspires to one day be a judge. Without the financial assistance from Smith Family supporters, Jason wouldn’t be able to complete his tertiary studies.“The biggest thing has been allowing me to access all of the digitised services. About 80 to 90% of university now is online and digital. Being able to use the money to purchase a laptop that I wouldn't get without sponsorship has given me access to the information and resources I need,” said Jason.

Yet digital exclusion starts much earlier in a disadvantaged student’s education. That’s why we’ve been delivering Tech Packs to families since 2007. These are affordable refurbished computers, which come with skills training, 12 months of internet access and ongoing technical support.

We’ve also formed a project called Digital Futures for Families and Students. To kick it off, last October we workshopped solutions with partners from universities, community, schools and families. Using design-based thinking, the workshop generated a body of strong ideas for meaningful ways The Smith Family can help close the digital divide.

With your ongoing support, we will use these ideas to develop new programs that ensure disadvantaged students have the digital resources and skills to participate fully in their education.




Being able to use the money to purchase a laptop that I wouldn't get without sponsorship has given me access to the information and resources I need.

Jason, sponsored student