Good Things Foundation Australia welcomes last night’s Federal Budget announcement that the successful Be Connected digital skills program for older Australians has been extended for an additional three years until 2024.
Jess Wilson, National Director of Good Things Foundation says, “The pandemic has shown just how important digital skills are for people to stay connected and access essential services. The Be Connected program has already helped 750,000 people to be more confident and safe online, but we know that there are many more in our community who need this essential support.”
“We look forward to understanding the detail of this funding announcement with our program partners at the Department of Social Services and eSafety Commissioner so we can help thousands more older Australians as we recover from this crisis and transition to a digital economy.”
Good Things Foundation built, manages and upskills the national Be Connected Network of 3,355 community organisations who provide on-the-ground digital skills support to older Australians in their communities. As national managers of the Be Connected grants program, Good Things Foundation provides these community organisations with small grant funding to build their capacity to provide these support services.
In the three and a half years of the Be Connected program to date, $15,222,380 in small grant funding has been distributed to community organisations in the Network to support their local digital skills programs for over 50’s.
“Having the Be Connected program extended is welcome news for older Australians and our network of over 3,000 community organisations who support them, but we know there is still much more to do to ensure all Australians have the skills and confidence they need to participate in the digital economy,” said Jess Wilson.
This Federal Budget, Good Things Foundation also called for additional funding to provide affordable digital access for all Australians, digital health literacy funding, and extending the Be Connected program to reach adults under 50 to support efforts to increase employment opportunities for people with low digital skills. See our budget submission here.
Additional funding being made available in the Budget for government digital transformation projects is also positive, with extensions to telehealth measures, assistance for small businesses to improve their digital capability and essential measures to support online safety and cybersecurity programs for businesses and households.
“With more government services and businesses going online, we need to make sure that everyone in our country has affordable access to internet-connected devices at home, and have the digital skills to find work, stay connected with loved ones, and equally participate in the online world.”