Be Connected will build on the framework of the former program Broadband for Seniors and will see up to $20 million in small grants over the next three years made available for community organisations that join the network to deliver training and support.
Minister Porter says the launch of Be Connected is the first step towards greater digital literacy among older Australians and encourages them to get involved.
“Be Connected is another important step towards the government’s goal to foster digital skills, access and inclusion to empower everyone to thrive in a digital world,” he says.
“I encourage older Australians who want to learn how to use digital technology confidently and safely, or who want to improve their current skills, to participate in the Be Connected program.”
He adds that family, friends and community groups can also join the program to help older Australians realise the benefits of going online.
Community organisations that join the network receiving free personalised face-to-face training and support to help older Australians engage with and embrace digital technology.
The launch of Be Connected comes following the latest Australia’s Digital Inclusion Index, released in August this year, which revealed that people aged over 65 are among the lowest scoring in digital inclusion.
On the release of the Index, National Seniors Chief Advocate Ian Henschke called for more work to be done so that older Australians are not missing out. He has since welcomed the launch of Be Connected.
“[The program] offers clear, simple and easy-to-understand information on how to improve computer literacy skills among older Australians,” he says.
“The latest Digital Inclusion Index results mean many older Australians are missing out on the benefits of being ‘connected’, including critical information and being increasingly isolated from friends and family - unless they can become better connected by using technology.”
A range of interactive learning activities, training courses and ‘how-to’ videos are available on the Be Connected website.
Online training courses include the basics of using computers and digital devices; online shopping and banking; staying safe and secure online; and socialising online.
Older Australians are also able to create their own learning plan on the website and progress at their own pace, something Mr Henschke says older Australians should ‘give a go’.
“Be Connected offers the added benefit of helping people find more training at a location close to where they live, which is especially important if they haven’t got family to help them,” he adds.
“National Seniors would encourage older Australians to give it a go - of course many seniors are tech savvy, but for those who aren’t, they should seek the help of their children or grandchildren to visit the Be Connected website and work their way through the step-by-step instructions on how to use the internet, email and video calls, and how to avoid scams.
“It has the potential to open up a whole new world for them, especially those who might have restricted mobility or live in regional or remote areas.”