Settlement in the Digital Age: Digital inclusion and newly arrived young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds – Centre for Multicultural Youth

In 2016 the first Australian Digital Inclusion Index was released, recognising the enormous role access to and engagement with digital technology and the internet plays in facilitating the economic and social inclusion of Australians in economic, social, cultural and civic life.

The index reveals that while digital inclusion is improving, it is uneven and many Australians are missing out on the benefits digital participation derives for our public and private lives (ADII, 2016).

Young people are recognised as some of the most prolific users of technology and the internet and are often described as having ‘grown up digital’. However, while many young people may be confident with technology, and disposed to use it, the benefits of this new digital age are not spreading equally to everyone. This is a concern, as we are moving closer to a future where digital participation is less of a choice and more of a necessity, where economic and social participation are increasingly linked to digital skills and technical competencies. (VicHealth and CSIRO, 2015; Foundation for Young Australians, 2016a)

This paper looks at the digital inclusion of newly arrived young people, those in their first five years of settlement in Victoria. The process of settlement involves a complicated series of negotiations and adjustments, as refugees and migrants seek to establish themselves in their new country and become “part of the social, institutional and cultural fabric of a society” (Valtonen 2004, in MYAN, 2016, p. 12). Upon arrival to Australia, newly arrived young people are being thrust in to an intensely digital environment where their digital inclusion offers an abundance of potential advantages for navigating settlement.

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