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Be Connected’s first birthday + first Get Online Week = one brilliant week

By Jess Wilson

When I became National Director for Good Things Foundation Australia, a year ago, I never dreamed that in one year in we would not only have recruited almost 2,000 Partners in the Be Connected Network, but that we would also be celebrating our first ever Get Online Week campaign.

The Be Connected Network has grown so much in the past year - and we now have partners all over the country from Cape York to Tasmania, from Newcastle to Broome. We're all working together to make sure that older Australians thrive in the digital world.

We are so close to reaching 2,000 (currently at 1,969) Network Partners and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the first birthday of the Be Connected Network than by having Australia’s first ever Get Online Week. The week saw over 750 events happening all across Australia to help people try one thing online - opening up the world of possibilities that digital can offer. Not only that, but over 1,150 new learners were registered on the Be Connected Learning Portal during Get Online Week alone!

The activity, the celebration and the absolute commitment to helping people take their first journey online that came across in your events was just so fantastic to see. From morning tea and a USB events to digital scavenger hunts, from robots and virtual reality, to how to write an email or use a smartphone. The activities were all focussed on supporting people to take their first digital steps. And where there is an event bringing people together, there is food! There were a few typical Aussie BBQs and there were Spanish feasts, there was a special Get Online Week cake, just to name a few. We have so loved seeing all your photos and stories of the work you are doing, on Twitter, through the Be Connected Facebook Group and through your reports. But please send more!!

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It was also great to be working with NBN Co who have supported us by developing some great materials to help promote Get Online Week events (you can see them in the picture above) and for helping us to get the word out to the world through the media.

A big thank you to our colleagues at the Department of Social Services and the Office of the eSafety Commissioner for supporting Get Online Week and for helping us make the Be Connected program a reality. The delivery of Be Connected is a true partnership between us, and it’s fantastic that the Australian Government is funding such an important digital inclusion program.

Thanks also to the Good Things Foundation UK team for their support and advice - they’ve been running digital inclusion programs and the Get Online campaign themselves for twelve years now, so it’s been great to work together across the seas. Interesting fact: the first two campaigns were Get Online days!

But mostly I want to say a huge congratulations and thanks to all the community organisations out there who participated in Get Online Week. For your enthusiasm and passion and for working so hard to make sure no one gets left behind in our digital world. Get Online Week really was all about you and your communities, but it was also about celebrating and working together as a Network. I hope it made you feel more connected to each other because the Be Connected Network is a movement. It's a group of people and organisations all over the country that share the same vision: to make sure all Australians thrive in a digital world.

A big thanks - and here’s to another great year to come!