Get Online Week a winner for all

While Cire had hoped to deliver its recent Get Online Week (GOLW) activities face-to-face, the Be Connected-funded initiative had to be modified for virtual delivery.

Given that Be Connected is an Australia-wide initiative to empower all Australians, particularly seniors, to thrive in a digital world, the virtual GOLW was a fun opportunity for even further skills and confidence building.

Cire Community Hubs initially planned to host events and Be Connected information sessions at Chirnside Park, Yarra Junction and Lilydale.
The revised format comprised a trivia session, a walk through the myGov site and how to use it, followed by bingo with information on social media. Enthusiasm-charged participants joined both.
The trivia group thoroughly enjoyed the topics, which focused on celebrities, technology, fashion, and music from the 1950s to the late 1980s. There were three rounds of trivia in between a two-part presentation on myGov.

For the bingo, bingo sheets were delivered (in a Covid-safe manner) to all those who had registered, adding an additional element of fun to the event.
In preparation for the Be Connected events, visually engaging PowerPoint presentations were created on the focus topics – myGov and social media – which were selected from the Be Connected resource library.
Social media looked at how to create accounts on three of the most popular platforms used by seniors (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), and how to stay safe. Over the past two years, social media has been used more than ever, as it was the only way to stay connected with family and friends during Covid lockdowns. As a result of high use, the number of social media scams and viruses spiralled. The Cire session focused on how to find settings, ensure accounts are secure, and how to identify scams and viruses.
The myGov session addressed how to set up an account and how to link government services. This was greatly received as many seniors do not have myGov accounts or know how to navigate them, which results in having to spend more time accessing services to get the required information.
Participant feedback conveyed how excited, and appreciative everyone was that events were not cancelled but held online, providing them with a w chance to socialise.

Hubs Manager Jenelle Strachan said the level of social interaction was wonderful. Many of the participants did not know each other before the events but willingly connected, had a laugh, and established friendships.
Throughout the sessions, participants asked questions that showed they were generally interested in the chosen topics and requested copies of the presentations to refer to the information and have the details on how to sign up to Be Connected. It was great to see that participants were eager to create Be Connected accounts to access further learning modules.

Zooming in on over 50s to beat isolation

From fitness to computer classes to accessing services like Telehealth and government sites, to family gatherings and simply checking in, many of Cire’s mature-aged learners are staying connected during COVID thanks to a special digital device loan program.

Without devices of their own, many of these seniors would have been even more isolated and vulnerable but the program and the ongoing support of Cire trainers, has enabled them to venture into a brave new world of connectivity, as well as further develop their overall online confidence and skills.

Cire was fortunate to gain funding through the Federal Government’s Be Connected initiative to roll out the digital device loan program through its learning and training sites at Yarra Junction, Lilydale and Chirnside Park.

“It has been hugely rewarding to be able to support the over 50s in our community with Samsung tablets to help keep them connected with the outside world in the comfort and safety of their own home,’ said Jenelle Strachan, Manager of Cire Community Hubs”.

‘During the pandemic, Zoom has become a household buzz word for connecting people, socially or for education and work.  Equipping our over 50s with devices, skills and confidence to use various platforms to see and connect to their families and friends has been an incredibly powerful tool in helping combat feelings of social isolation and loneliness.’

Cire is part of the Be Connected network, an Australian Government initiative aimed at increasing the confidence, skills and online safety of older Australians in using digital technology. It targets those aged 50 years and over, who have minimal or no engagement with digital technology.

The COVID loan program was in response to a Be Connected survey that revealed that 75% of older learners did not have devices at home and access to the internet which seriously limited their ability to stay in touch with family and friends during social isolation and restriction periods.

Pat - grandmother from Lilydale

Pat – grandmother from Lilydale

One Cire learner, Pat from Lilydale was thrilled to receive her device because she said she could ‘see’ her grandchildren and also keep up her Fit4Life classes that were being delivered virtually by Chirnside Park Community Hub.

Alan, from Cire’s project-based Tech Hub Class where students learn practical and necessary skills for everyday life, was equally thrilled. The loan meant he could continue to access the internet including the Be Connected site to further learn how to operate and perform specific skills based on his own needs, as well as access apps to help him with his spelling.

‘The Be Connected website is the best I have ever used and all the material has been very thoughtfully written and designed with the true user in mind,’ said Alan. Pre-COVID Tech Hub classes used the Be Connected app and students found it very user-friendly with a great blend of videos, quizzes and information.

Philip and Sui who both come from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds agreed that having a device enables them to access Zoom classes and continue with ‘speaking practice and pronunciation. Thank you so much’.

An equally appreciative Tami from Cire’s Reconnect program said it has been a real confidence booster being able to ‘play around’ with the device to learn how to use it and safely.

Pictured above
Cire trainer Rowan Barr with Alan and Naomi Taylor, Cire Community Hubs Coordinator