Older residents in Cairns and Far North Queensland will be encouraged to bridge the digital divide through a new government investment to help senior Australians remain connected with friends and family online and learn new skills.
Families and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said the Morrison Government would provide $28.3 million to extend the Be Connected program in partnership with the eSafety Commissioner to offer a range of learning services.
“Access to devices and the internet is essential to support people to continue their learning and remain connected with their family, friends and online services,” Ms Ruston said.
“The initiative has helped more than half a million older Australians to use Instagram and Facebook to beat loneliness and stay connected with their tech-savvy kids and grandkids and will now be rolled out further across the country.”
Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said Be Connected can be a starting point to learn the basics and the benefits of going online.
He said existing network partners have been provided $115,150 by the government to locally deliver the Be Connected program in Leichhardt between 2017 to 2021.
“Be Connected offers a comprehensive catalogue of skills including being safe online, connecting with family and friends and accessing important government and other essential services like online banking from home,” Mr Entsch said
“There are more than 30,375 people aged 60 and older across Leichhardt and I would encourage residents to take advantage of the local organisations that deliver the program to become more proficient in everyday digital technologies.”
A newly released Swinburne University report found that Be Connected had a statistically significant impact on participants’ digital skills, knowledge and confidence and promoted online safety and social connectedness.
The evaluation also found that older female participants were more likely to start with very low to moderate digital skills and confidence but experienced the greatest improvement following involvement with Be Connected.
For more information about the program visit beconnected.esafety.gov.au or call the Be Connected Helpline 1300 795 897.