As I flew in to Brisbane to attend the two days of Australian Digital Inclusion Alliance workshops, I was sentimental. I lived in Brisbane for many years and my family are in Queensland, so I know the view from the plane window well. I love the tropical sense in the air and the friendliness of the Brisbane folk. But, as well as travelling down memory lane, I was also really looking forward to spending two days talking about all things Digital Inclusion and connecting with people across our great country of Australia using the wonders of digital technology. There we were talking about the benefits of the digital world. So it was fitting that we’d be using modern technology to connect with groups of people across Australia to have a national conversation about how we ensure everyone thrives in this digital world.
Helping older Australians to learn about digital
The first opportunity to do this was through the ADIA Meetup. It was my great pleasure to present alongside Nan Bosler, the President of the Australian Seniors Computer Club Association (ASSCA) to talk about how and why seniors need to move in to the digital world. Nan, is a consummate presenter: engaging, funny, responsive and to the point.To engage older people in learning about digital technology you need patience, you need to understand their motivation for trying and you need to be ok with saying “I don’t know, but let’s work it out together.” That’s what being a digital mentor is all about. It was wonderful to lead this conversation over to the growing Be Connected Network and how we are supporting organisations to do just that.
Nan has been supporting older Australians to connect with technology for over 20 years and when I said to her: “You must have heard all of this before and be sick of new people coming along to talk about how this should be done”. She simply said to me: “I’m glad there’s more people talking about it now.”
Tackling the digital literacy gap through different approaches
And more people there is, including the social entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Lively, Anna Donaldson. Anna’s vision to support intergenerational connection and improve outcomes for younger and older people alike is inspiring. She has set up Lively herself and still does most of the work But she is already improving lives. She and I have been talking over the last few months about the different models of digital mentoring to support older Australians to connect with tech. It was great to continue that conversation with a broader group through the ADIA workshop. The ADIA workshop brought together people from across government, not-for-profits, universities and corporates to discuss practice and research in digital inclusion. Anna and I hosted a session together on current work that is supporting older Australians. Anna discussed the impact on individuals and I talked about building the Be Connected network, why this matters and how Good Things Foundation makes change happen in the world through our Theory of Change Playbook. Again, we used technology to make it all happen, with me in Brisbane and Anna in Melbourne. You can see our presentation here…
So what did I take away from presenting with two great women on digital inclusion and having conversations about where we need to go as the Australian Digital Inclusion Alliance to improve people’s lives through digital?
- Two voices are better than one - there is always someone, like Nan, who has been doing something before, so learn from them and work together to improve the impact.
- We need to build an Australian evidence base - to ensure people know why we are doing this and the difference it can make to people’s lives.
- There are passionate people in the community all over the country, like our network partners, who are making a difference to individual lives. At the nextADIA meetup it would be great to hear from more of you about what’s working, what’s not and what you think we can do differently to improve people’s lives through digital.
Jess Wilson - National Director
Jess leads the work that Good Things Foundation does in Australia through building the Be Connected Network. Her focus is on building a network of organisations that are all intent on improving people's lives through digital. She ensures the network is adding capacity and support into organisations that are already doing great work with people and helping them to do their best work, but also learning from them what is needed, what works and what more we can do.