Indigenous Australians continue to face extreme levels of disadvantage in living standards, life expectancy, education, literacy, health and employment. The Dot Com Mob believes that a lot of this disadvantage is caused by a widening gap in the literacy levels between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people that is perpetuated by the 'digital divide' in Australia.
The majority of Indigenous students in remote Australia do not meet the national minimum standards for reading, writing and numeracy. By the age of 15years, only 29% of Indigenous students living in remote areas are reaching the national minimum reading standard. This is compared with the national figure of 92.1% of students reaching the minimum standard (NAPLAN 2008).
Indigenous students also are half as likely as non-Indigenous students to complete Year 12. In 2006, 22 per cent of Indigenous 19 year olds in remote areas had completed year 12 compared to 57 per cent of non-indigenous 19 year olds. Only 11 per cent of Indigenous people aged 20-64 years in remote areas has a qualification of certificate III or higher, compared to 41 per cent of non-Indigenous people.
Communities in remote areas are less likely to have schools and health services and most importantly access to the internet. Only 20% of Indigenous people in remote areas have reported using the internet in the last year, whilst 67% of non-Indigenous people in remote areas reported using the Internet.
In 2006, 93 000 people lived in 1,187 discrete Indigenous communities: - 94 per cent of these communities were in remote and very remote areas. - 245 communities (21 per cent) had a primary school, and 40 (only 3 per cent) had a secondary school that provided year 12.
Access to the Internet can overcome a lot of these disadvantages associated with geographical isolation and the Dot Com Mob is supporting initiatives that provide free public access to computers and the Internet in remote communities.