Monday, 24 August 2015

2016 census and impact for people with low literacy

Recently it was announced the 2016 Australian census will be going ahead.
But it will be online.

In the attached information, it is acknowledged that there will be some people who will not want to do it on line, but they expect over 2/3 of all households to use the online version.

It is difficult to see how these numbers/data add up, when the ABS(1) has data that tells us that 44% of the adult population has non functional literacy. Of more concern is that the same research in 2013 also identified 63% of the adult population has non functional technology based problem solving literacy (that means using the computer to access information and interpret meaning). Of that number over 12% were unable to participate in this part of the research, as they were unable to access the basic requirements if using a computer, and only

A number of yrs ago research identified significant proportions of people can access computers, but mostly it is social media. (2) This data was focused on young people 'so called first generation computer users.' ACMA (3) research from 2010 identified people over 55 are over-represented in the non-functional users of computers and technology group. Remember too, this data was collected from people who do identify as literate.

Are the silent non-functionally literate in our community going to be able to be properly included in the census data collection.  These are the people who demographers and planners do need to know about.

So who are these people?
Can you identify them in your community also. Here are some examples.

1. Retired man, highly literate, who left the workforce over 20 yrs ago. Has access to a computer but only uses the internet for emails
2. Married woman with mild intellectual disability. Uses a mobile phone to contact her husband (using voice) they do not own a computer
3. Elderly country lady. Does not own a computer
4. Woman with mild intellectual disability. Lives on her own. Does not own a computer. Uses a mobile phone for conversation (but not text)
5. Woman who owns a computer can use it for a variety of word and document based tasks. Does not have access to the internet.
6. Clients in a CRU. There is a computer in the staff room, but no one who lives in the CRU accesses the computer or internet.
7. People who live in a CRS. Do not have access to a computer or the internet. May be able to access at their local library, but will they be able to read the information, without support?
8. People who have English as a second language.

Anyone who does not regularly access a computer has additional vulnerabilities around completing forms, and security and "what if I put in the wrong thing , by accident"

May be 2/3 of households do have the skills to do something online.... but do they have the confidence to do this task online?

Let the census data collection agency know your concerns for people you know, or people you support. Only then will change happen. Ask them to make sure an Easy English version of the census is available. We need everyone to be included and participate. It is a Right.

Cathy Basterfield
Access Easy English

0466 579 855


Norman and Skinner (2006)   eHealth Literacy: Essential Skills for Consumer Health in a Networked World

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