First it was the bushfires, and then Covid, that left many of our older residents feeling disconnected with the outside world. The bushfires required an immediacy of information and fortunately the radio provided an essential link to the outside world for those of our older residents not connected to the internet. As it turned out, with telecommunications failing, and then electricity, the whole shire became dependent on battery powered radios for news. The bushfires identified to many families that the feeling of isolation was an issue to face, soon to be added to by Covid restrictions. Once again it was essential to have accurate and timely news delivered to our older residents and to ensure they were not further isolated in a world that was rapidly changing. Fortunately with the bushfires and Covid came a spike in uptake by our older residents to venture onto the internet via devices provided by family to ensure older family members could be contacted using new technologies of Zoom and Facetime. But with this uptake came the need to train users into the world of the internet with all of its positives and negatives. Fortunately for Eurobodalla we have business such as The Tec Exec in Batemans Bay who develop and deliver specific targeted training programs across the board including Internet 101 for beginners. The Tec Exec founder, Tricia Pye, told The Beagle "The current situation on the South Coast after the devastating fires and now with Covid-19 has accelerated the speed of change and adaptation to new digital technologies for contactless services including how we eat, shop and visit the doctor." "Visiting a restaurant or booking an appointment can be a frustrating and daunting experience with the adoption of digital check ins and online menus particularly for seniors and others less familiar with contactless technology." "We are building a team of locals to help manage and support Eurobodalla residents to gain these skills and maintain safety using online tools". Call The Tec Exec on 1300 366 802 to register for one of the following Get Online Week information sessions:
Monday, October 19 - The Montague Room at Club Narooma, 1.30pm-3.30pm.
Wednesday, October 21 - The Poppy Room at the Batemans Bay Soldier's Club, 10am-1pm.
Thursday, October 22, The Job Shop Moruya, 53 Queen Street, 10am-1pm.
There is also good news in the Federal Budget announcement that the successful Be Connected digital skills program for older Australians has been extended for an additional three years until 2024. Jess Wilson, National Director of Good Things Foundation and driver of the very successful Get Online Week each October says, “The pandemic has shown just how important digital skills are for people to stay connected and access essential services. "Our Be Connected program has already helped 750,000 people to be more confident and safe online, but we know that there are many more in our community who need this essential support.”
“We look forward to understanding the detail of this funding announcement with our program partners at the Department of Social Services and eSafety Commissioner so we can help thousands more older Australians as we recover from this crisis and transition to a digital economy.”
Good Things Foundation built, manages and upskills the national Be Connected Network of 3,355 community organisations who provide on-the-ground digital skills support to older Australians in their communities. As national managers of the Be Connected grants program, Good Things Foundation provides these community organisations with small grant funding to build their capacity to provide these support services.
In the three and a half years of the Be Connected program to date, $15,222,380 in small grant funding has been distributed to community organisations in the Network to support their local digital skills programs for over 50’s.
“Having the Be Connected program extended is welcome news for older Australians and our network of over 3,000 community organisations who support them, but we know there is still much more to do to ensure all Australians have the skills and confidence they need to participate in the digital economy,” said Jess Wilson.
This Federal Budget, Good Things Foundation also called for additional funding to provide affordable digital access for all Australians, digital health literacy funding, and extending the Be Connected program to reach adults under 50 to support efforts to increase employment opportunities for people with low digital skills.
Additional funding being made available in the Budget for government digital transformation projects is also positive, with extensions to telehealth measures, assistance for small businesses to improve their digital capability and essential measures to support online safety and cybersecurity programs for businesses and households.
“With more government services and businesses going online, we need to make sure that everyone in our country has affordable access to internet-connected devices at home, and have the digital skills to find work, stay connected with loved ones, and equally participate in the online world.”