Maintaining community connections and support through digital

27 May 2020



Middleton is a small, picturesque waterfront village in the Kingborough municipality of Tasmania. It is an area with poor internet connectivity and quite a few flat spots where internet access is not available. Some of their community members find it challenging to afford internet plans, and many have limited confidence using digital devices.

Through the Be Connected program, and with the help of Kingston Library, the Middleton Community Hall got connected to the internet a few months ago. The Middleton community was enjoying the access to free wifi and information until current restrictions put a halt to community gatherings.

As we all navigate this new world of social distancing, the hall has found a new patron who is providing an essential role in ensuring people can access vital services such as health care. Annia Baron, a local Clinical Psychologist and Mindset Coach, has set up in the hall to provide online mental health support to those who need it.

"Having online access during this time, in particular with COVID-19 creating increased anxiety and ambiguity, has been tremendously helpful. I've been able to conduct telehealth services for those in need of mental health and wellbeing support in a flexible and timely manner. Having an opportunity for 'face-to-face' sessions via online video services means I can keep some consistency in long-term client's care plans. And for those new to seeking mental health support, 'seeing' their psychologists face and having a 'visual' space to work within can normalise the process and make patients feel more at ease,” says Annia.

Creating a sense of support and connection in their community is critical during such an uncertain time. Annia says, "People who feel vulnerable and in need of help must have services available to them that make it easy to reach out and gain strategies that better manage and improve their wellbeing. Having access to the internet at the Middleton Community Hall has been fantastic."