01 Oct 2020
Born and raised in rural Queensland, Ken Skerman has worked in the Pastoral and Agricultural industry for 40 years as a contract harvester, cattleman and haymaker. He has three children - two girls both in the Queensland Pastoral industry (pictured above) and one son in the IT and retail industry.
“I am now living alone with my kelpie dog Jed and a couple of pensioner horses on an isolated rural property outside of Adelaide River, Northern Territory. The property does not have a landline and there is no mobile reception. If the generator breaks down or is off at night then I have no way of contacting anyone. When the generator is on, I get my internet from a satellite and can make calls using the wifi.”
Ken initially wanted to learn how to use Facebook to follow his 6 nieces on their family holiday through Scotland a couple of years ago.
“Now, I can use my iPhone, laptop and iPad to do my online banking, search the internet, and send texts and chat on Messenger.”
Ken was diagnosed with a progressive lung disease a few years ago and is now limited in his daily activities. Due to COVID, he is in protective isolation to avoid community infections and his daughters can no longer visit him.
“Even before the pandemic, it was virtually impossible to manage personal and financial affairs without safe and competent use of technology and having reliable access to the internet. There are no more local banks, and Medicare, Centrelink and the Tax Office are forcing us to do our business online. Life for isolated people is hard enough, particularly for people isolated by distance, age or illness. Being able to take care of things online makes life more secure and certain. It gives me the chance to communicate with my family, my caregiver, my local doctor and interstate specialist.”
As someone who was previously hesitant about learning digital skills, Ken is now encouraging others to give it a go by doing one thing at a time.
“I was full of doubt and confusion when I started this journey. I am a traditional old-fashioned Queensland cowboy. I know how to do things with machinery and animals and with my hands, but I really didn’t think I would get with the internet business. I was wrong about that, I am learning all the time."
"Start small and have a go. Find a tutor or a family member with patience to show you how things work. Don’t worry about breaking things or messing up and remember to have some fun with it. Look up stuff that fascinates you. You would be completely amazed at the amount of helpful step-by-step instructional videos on any subject under the sun.”
And he is still committed to learning every day.
"I still get confused about some things. But I know where to get help and I have surprised myself at how much I can do now. You just have to want to do it and in my case, my life depends on it. It’s as simple as that.”
Ken is a campaign story from Get Online Week. Learn more at www.getonlineweek.com