Anglicare Australia has launched a paper calling on governments to treat and regulate the internet as an essential service.
Released as part of Anti-Poverty Week, Essential Connections looks at how poverty limits access to the internet, and how that lack of access worsens poverty.
Executive Director Kasy Chambers said that governments must regulate the internet as an essential service.
“Across the country, our services have told us that people struggle to get help, information, and opportunities without access to the internet.
“Governments have moved their systems online, assuming everyone will have access. They now force people to use special apps and conduct job searches online in exchange for basic support. But they do not guarantee access or treat the internet as an essential service.
“People on low incomes are often forced to use expensive internet options on their phones, or to travel to access free internet, because they can’t afford internet plans. That must change.
“We are calling for guaranteed low-cost options for people who need them. Internet providers must also offer hardship options and payment plans instead of cutting people off, as they do for water and utilities.
“The internet has become an essential service for all Australians. It’s time to treat it like one.”
Essential Connections: The Internet as an Essential Service calls for:
▪ Recognising internet access is an essential service
▪ Ensuring access through affordable products, including a low-income broadband product
▪ Better regulation of internet providers, ensuring they provide support to people in financial hardship and struggling to pay bills.