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The digital divide and social inclusion among refugee migrants: A case in regional Australia

Khorshed Alam (School of Commerce, Faculty of Business, Education, Law & Arts, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia)
Sophia Imran (Australian Digital Futures Institute, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 1 June 2015




The purpose of this paper is to examine the factors which influence refugee migrants’ adoption of digital technology and its relevance to their social inclusion in Australia.


This research developed a conceptual framework keeping the “use” of digital technology as the centre-piece of the digital divide. The empirical data were derived from a series of focus group discussions with refugee migrants in an Australian regional city, Toowoomba in Queensland.


There is a digital divide among refugee migrant groups and it is based on inequalities in physical access to and use of digital technology, the skills necessary to use the different technologies effectively and the ability to pay for the services. The opportunities to use digital technology could support the social inclusion of refugee migrant groups in the broader Australian community.

Research limitations/implications

Further research is required to examine whether this digital divide is unique in the regional context or common to Australian society and to confirm factors that might contribute significantly to refugee migrants’ social inclusion.


This paper determined the role digital technology can play in building social capital and hence social inclusion among refugee migrant groups. Many of the factors identified as influencing refugee migrants’ use of digital technology can inform the Australian government and the information and communication technology industry in devising supportive policies and plans to reduce the risk of social exclusion, alienation and marginalisation among refugee migrant groups.



The authors gratefully acknowledge the Commonwealth Government’s Collaborative Research Network Program at the University of Southern Queensland for funding part of this research. The authors thank the focus group participants for their time and contribution to the project. The authors also wish to thank Tazmarry Khan, G.M. Monirul Alam, Michael Erdiaw-Kwasie and Fariha Alam for their support in organising the focus group meetings and Bernard O’Neil for editing the manuscripts.


Alam, K. and Imran, S. (2015), "The digital divide and social inclusion among refugee migrants: A case in regional Australia", Information Technology & People, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 344-365.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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