Anglicare Victoria's Hardship Survey 2013, part-funded by ACCAN, surveyed 325 low-income clients regarding their access to telecommunications and whether they struggle to afford these services. Participants were taken from across 25 emergency relief and financial counselling services in metropolitan and non-metropolitan Victoria.
The survey found:
- Telecommunications are not universally accessible
- Deprivation of home internet (49.2%) and mobile internet (56.1%) were unacceptably high
- Clients living with dependent children had better access to home internet than other clients
- Too many clients with home internet relied on a dial-up/phone service, particularly in non-metropolitan areas
- The majority of clients see the benefits of home internet access
- Deprivation of home phone was high (38.2%), although clients prefer mobile phone to home phone
- Mobile phone ownership is widespread and essential to client's lives
- Almost half (45.2% of clients with mobile phones used it as their only form of telecommunication
- Monthly expenditure on mobile phones was low relative to other forms of telecommunications and the majority of users consider it somewhat or very affordable
- Two-thirds (66%) of mobile phone users had difficulty paying their account and 61.7% of clients with a pre-paid account ran out of credit sooner than expected
- Clients engaged in a range of meaningful strategies to try and manage their expenditure on, and increase their access to, telecommunications.