Coronavirus: using digital to support those most in need

20 Mar 2020 |Written by



By Jess Wilson, National Director, Good Things Foundation Australia

Now, more than ever, we’re seeing the importance of having basic digital literacy and confidence. With new government advice highlighting the dangers of face-to-face contact, the need to maintain social connections and access to advice and information through technology is vital.

Having essential digital skills gives Australians the ability to find reliable information as well as identify dangerous misinformation regarding the virus. It gives you the ability to connect with your friends and family while in isolation. It also allows you to provide support to your children who are doing their school work from home.

But, it’s estimated that 4 million people in Australia have limited digital skills. That’s 4 million people who are at risk of being left behind - at a time when they are the most in need of support and essential services. We need to do more to ensure that we are empowering and helping people to gain these basic digital skills.

Good Things Foundation supports over 3,000 local community partners who help people gain the digital skills they need in a setting they trust. Even throughout the many closures and limited contact, it’s great to see some of our partners are lending iPads to their community members so they can still hold their digital skills classes virtually. Or they are exploring how to host their digital skills sessions via Skype or Facebook live.

Community organisations play such an important role in keeping people connected and delivering essential services. That’s why we support ACOSS’ calls for economic support for the community sector to manage the impact COVID-19 is having, which is likely to continue.

We’re still supporting our Network

At Good Things Foundation, our team is continuing to support our Network through our telephone helpline, email support, and weekly webinars and skillshares.

We are surveying our Network regularly to understand the impact on them and how best to tailor our response. So far, we have created a news page with the latest advice for our network that we are updating weekly. We have created a special new lesson plan and worksheets for learners to find reliable online information about COVID-19, as well as a tip sheet for learners about identifying misinformation. Additionally, our recently released Health My Way digital health literacy program resources provide tips on finding reliable online information about health and wellbeing.

The Be Connected Learning Portal is free to use and contains courses on everything from how to shop safely online to video calling and socialising online. There’s also a featured blog post on ‘Coronavirus: how to get advice, stay connected and shop online’ with some really practical advice and tips.

As we move through these unprecedented times, we must realise the huge potential of digital technology and continue supporting the essential work of community organisations to ensure we’re not leaving anyone behind.