World Poverty Day – how can digital skills help?

International Day for the eradication pf poverty, 17th October.

Tuesday was World Poverty Day, the 25th United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

Calls to action

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Call to Action by Father Joseph Wresinski—which inspired the observance of October 17 as the World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty.

“Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty.” Father Joseph Wresinski

The United Nations’ Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development – which New Zealand signed – sets poverty eradication as the overarching objective and obligated all countries to end poverty in all forms, through strategies that guarantee the fulfillment of all human rights and ensure no one is left behind.

34th out of 41

Despite these calls to action, a Unicef report this year ranked New Zealand 34th out of 41 developed countries for child wellbeing and indicators in the Salvation Army’s 2016/17 ‘State of the Nation Report: Off the track‘ show ‘seemingly entrenched rates of child poverty and child abuse’, ‘burgeoning incarceration rates and high recidivism rates’ and ‘a level of homelessness not seen in New Zealand in the lifetime of most Kiwis’.

Internet skills a luxury or indispensable tool?

In the face of cold damp expensive housing, high poverty rates and steady numbers of people unemployed, digital skills and internet access can seem to be an unaffordable luxury.  But they can help, in many ways:

  • saving money and time: the value of this will vary widely according to household circumstances, but indications are it is significant:
    – UK research suggests an average family can save $1,000/year buy buying goods and services online.
    – NZ research predicts over $1,300/year as the additional value of Ultra Fast Broadband to an average NZ household, compared to ordinary broadband.
  • accessing services, information and support
    – NZ Government Result 10: “80% of the transactions for the twenty most common public services will be completed digitally by 2021.”
    – people without good internet skills and access tend to be heavy users of government services.
  • staying in touch, reducing isolation
    – research has shown the value of the internet in reducing social isolation for e.g. refugees, parents (especially single mothers),  people with illness or disability.
  • helping children do well at school
    – 80% of Principals report that a home internet connection has a major impact on children’s learning.
  • helping get a job, or getting a better job
    – 21% of participants in our largest digital literacy programme secured a job within 12 months of graduation (55% in paid employment compared to 34% at start).
  • confidence to continue to further education
    –  25% of participants in our largest digital literacy programme went on to further education or training courses.
    – 70% of those securing jobs or further training report that the programme and skills gained gave them the confidence to do this.

NZ map shows correlation between social well-being and digital inclusion

20/20 Trust Chair Laurence Millar says “The Digital Divide Map, a joint project with our strategic partner Internet NZ, shows that there is a strong correlation between social well-being and digital inclusion (measured by access to the internet and digital skills).”

A unique stepping stone to escape from poverty

Low income, a lack of material resources and/or poor access to services for health or education are common reasons for households with limited resources having poorer outcomes for their children. (Child Poverty Monitor, University of Otago.)

Millar says “[There is] a significant part of our future workforce that is not equipped to work in our digital nation. Finding a job without a digital connection and resume is increasingly rare, and digital skills are essential in most jobs.”

“Digital skills provide a unique stepping stone to escape from poverty by reducing daily costs, improving employment and earning capacity.”

Further information on poverty and child poverty in New Zealand

Listen to ‘The Panel’, Radio NZ talking to Policy analyst for the Salvation Army Alan Johnson on what poverty actually is.

New Zealand 34th out of 41 developed countries for child wellbeing

Child Poverty Monitor, University of Otago    Infographic at

Child Poverty Action Group has reports and research

Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty (Children’s Commissioner)

United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

NZ Digital Divide map


NZ Digital Inclusion Manifesto – no one left behind

We released the Digital Inclusion Manifesto during the 2017 election campaign, supported by over twenty community and technology organisations who share our view that all New Zealanders should have “affordable access to the internet and the skills and confidence to use digital technologies for learning, for work and for life”.

The Manifesto contains eight goals for digital inclusion, and calls on government to prioritise digital inclusion and skills as a core element of all its programmes. We look forward to a dialogue with the incoming government on how New Zealand can achieve full digital inclusion.

Digital Inclusion Manifesto