Paul Webster, digital mentor
Paul volunteers as a Be Connected digital mentor at the Langwarrin Men's Shed in Victoria.
Paul Webster served in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) for 18 years and is one of five children to take after his father by joining the RAAF. With a mother in-law and father in-law who were ex-Army (Lieutenant and Major) and two cousins who are also ex-Army (Brigadier & Lt Colonel), it’s safe to say Paul has a strong family history with the Australian Defence Force.
Now Paul serves as a volunteer Be Connected digital mentor at the Langwarrin Men’s Shed. He, along with a few other like-minded veterans at the Shed, work to support others in their community. His family are very supportive of him volunteering as a digital mentor, so much so that a lot of his extended family across the country are now building their digital skills from the comfort of their own homes on the Be Connected Learning Portal. Paul is very encouraging of this and says the digital world has opened up a lot of new conversation points between them. “Now, when we catch up over the phone, we always have a quick chat about the various Be Connected activities followed by questions about their computers! But it’s great to connect with them, and it gives me a chance to bring them up to date on new scams.”
As a digital mentor, Paul has the opportunity to present safety seminars and digital skills training at various local organisations including retirement villages, Probus and Seniors groups. One of the first topics he covers is creating strong passwords after learning that many ex-defence force members are likely to use the one number they’ll never forget: their service number. “I encourage them to change their passwords, as this is one number that can be easily guessed if a hacker knows of their service,” says Paul.
Safety is one of the main reasons Paul began volunteering as a digital mentor at Langwarrin Men’s Shed. Although Paul himself has always been into computers, many other men and women his age don’t share the same digital skill set. After a few of his family and friends fell victims to online scams, Paul took the opportunity to educate them on how to be more diligent with their online safety. “Although completing safety modules on Be Connected won’t stop you from being targeted by scammers, it will make you more aware of how you can prevent yourself from being scammed. During any of the safety presentations I give, there’s always at least one person who’s been scammed and this makes me more determined to educate people on how to protect themselves,” says Paul.
And the other reason Paul began volunteering as a digital mentor? Giving back to the community, he says. “Anyone who has served will know that the Defence Force community (fellow servicemen and women) is a family and you always look after your family. This is just an extension of that, looking after my community.”