Support for our Network in natural disasters & COVID
Our national network have been through bushfires, COVID lockdowns, floods and more. No matter what happens, we're here for you.
Our national network of community organisations spans across the entire country. If you are a member of our Network and are faced with a significant natural disaster or are required to go into a COVID lockdown, we are here to support you.
The 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires affected 225 Network Partners, which both increased demand for digital inclusion support and made it more challenging to deliver.
As the year rolled on, we also faced even greater challenges, with COVID changing how we work with each other and introducing additional safety measures including social distancing and signing in to venues. Our more vulnerable community members need digital skills support now more than ever, but some are uncomfortable getting help in person.
Support for your grants
If you are worried that a recent event will affect your ability to acquit your grant before the contract end date, please get in touch with us by email so that we can give you specific advice based on your circumstances. You can also call our office on (02) 9051 9292 during business hours (AEST).
Continuing your program
We recognise in times of crisis, your first concern is the health and safety of you, your family, colleagues and the wider community. We will support you to prioritise these needs and we’re here to help build your program back up when you’re ready.
In challenging times, Network Partners have told us their community are more likely to come to them asking for digital skills support to help them access government and essential services including recovery information, shopping and banking. While it may not be planned, this is still important digital literacy support. You may be able to adjust your existing program to make it relevant to your local circumstances at this time and factor this support into your grant acquittal. Just make sure what you are doing is in accordance with local health and safety directives from your State Government.
Here are some things you could do to continue, restart or adapt your program during in the recovery stage of a crisis.
Nearly all of our grants can be used to deliver support remotely.
- By phone: Call and check-in on your existing learners. During the call, ask if they need help with anything during the difficult time and if they know anyone else that may benefit from a check-in. A phone can be extremely helpful in the absence of face-to-face support.
- By video conference: using programs like Zoom and Skype, you can provide a similar learning and support experience that you do in person with a few adjustments. You may need to call some of your participants beforehand and give them advice on how to connect. Read our resources on adapting to online delivery
Run digital skills sessions about how to use your smartphone features, app, website and social media to stay up to date with the evolving situation.
- If resources and restrictions allow, open your services up as a ‘drop-in’ support hub for people to contact family and friends by video chat and access the web.
- If your emergency event has meant that some people have had to vacate their homes, consider offering your digital skills support at the local evacuation shelter.
- If you have appropriate devices, like laptops and tablets, you may want to loan these devices out to your most vulnerable and isolated members of the community. Don’t forget to consider how these devices will connect to the internet if the recipient does not have an internet connection. Read our guide to loaning devices during COVID-19 for tips on starting a loaning program.
- Read our COVID-19 news page. This page is no longer updated, but you may find useful tips here.
- Our Delivering Digital Skills for Groups webinar provides tips on running sessions remotely
- Session plans and learner tipsheets on essential digital skills, digital health literacy and bushfire emergency information topics
- Tipsheets and checklists for digital mentors on delivering digital skills sessions online or remotely
- You can update your details on the Be Connected Network website to let us know if you are delivering digital skills programs remotely and accepting new learner referrals