2024 commenced with innovative programming at KMCC.   We’ve been fortunate to collaborate with Mark Vassallo, an experienced IT Educator from vHome Tech Services, as well as community development interns to run a series of digital literacy workshops aimed at seniors.

Digital literacy is defined as having knowledge and skills pertaining to technology and the internet (online world) to stay safe and feel confident while using it in daily life.  The Australian Government has focused on “bridging the digital divide” and implemented the Be Connected program with the goal of ensuring that all Australians can use the internet and technology competently.  Some of the benefits of digital literacy include increased agency in daily tasks such as online shopping and banking, being at decreased risk of loneliness, and easier access to online education.

Whilst KMCC had previously offered free in-home internet support to seniors, this year we have taken a group education approach to digital literacy training.  Our sessions commenced in early February. Accessing Mark’s vast knowledge bank, as well as information provided by the Be Connected e-learning portal, attendees had reliable, accurate, and up-to-date educational materials at hand.

The sessions were designed in line with KMCC’s core mission of empowering individuals in the local community, with the needs of seniors considered at every step of the process. To ensure that senior voices informed our delivery, KMCC distributed a survey to senior citizens in our locality in 2023.  The survey revealed that whilst 73% of seniors in our locality believed that technology was beneficial, 27% of them did not understand it, or thought it was “scary”.   Additionally, 27% of participants expressed an interest in receiving basic training on how to use a digital device, and 36% expressed an interest in learning how to avoid online scams.  This indicated a clear need for a local initiative that was accessible, affordable, and supportive of seniors, whilst not being intrusive.

We believe that this evidence-informed approach has ensure the success of the delivery so far.  Since February 2024 we have had 18 participants in the program.   Attendees of the February workshops
described their experiences as “positive” and “helpful”.   Areas that stood out to attendees were the “friendly atmosphere” and “excellent venue”.  Each workshop session had an overarching topic and complementary activities.   Topics ranged from digital literacy fundamentals such as “getting started online” and “staying safe”, to more complex ones like “online shopping”.  An activity that attendees found especially enjoyable was using Google Earth.  One attendee said that “it was interesting to be able to look at faraway places in 3D”.

An important dimension of our engagement has been our recruitment of CALD participants.  Over 80% of our attendees have been of CALD background.   A promotion partnership with Chorus, a local aged and disability service and the dedicated pre-session work of interns Anuj Didra and Nina Yun has been critical here.  Anuj and Nina communicated with CALD participants via presentations, phone calls, and emails to ensure they felt welcomed, and assured of culturally appropriate support, including a translation service.

KMCC would also like to extend its gratitude to its funding partner the Good Things Foundation (funding partner) for their continuing support of the workshops.

For anyone over 50 years hoping to improve their own digital literacy skills and to become more internet savvy, feel free to look at the official Be Connected and access their free online courses. Additionally, you are more than welcome to join our KMCC digital literacy sessions in April/May by writing to kmfcprograms@gmail.com

 

Writing Credit: Julia White.