Breaking down digital isolation

Cher Jimenez

A program to address digital isolation among the elderly will start at Gippsland Multicultural Services tomorrow with classes in different parts of the Latrobe Valley and across the region.

Filipino community organisation Alay Kapwa (We Care) will be spearheading the program through a grant from social change charity Good Things Foundation where basic computer classes will be offered for people in their 50s and beyond.

Alay Kapwa president Judy Hume said the Be Connected program aimed to improve older Australians’ digital skills in a friendly and non-judgmental manner.

She said a couple of Alay Kapwa members had volunteered to act as digital mentors to support learners during classes.

Mrs Hume said they were aware that some older members of the local community may not be comfortable learning digital technology and mentors were advised to “respect their choices”.

“The modules will be according to the need of the learner. Our role as digital mentors is we don’t take over [however] they tell us what they need to learn,” she said.

“We want to build up their confidence and provide education so that they are assured that they learn how to pay safely online and know the safety tips that they need to caution themselves when they are using the internet.”

Mrs Hume said the free classes were open to everyone and not just Filipinos.

She said classes would be held at Latrobe Valley libraries and in Sale with learners urged to bring along a mobile phone.

Mrs Hume said they also planned to send mentors to learners’ homes for one-on-one tutorials if they have transportation issues.

The organisation is encouraging members of the community to volunteer as digital mentors as classes are held in different locations.

Anyone interested to become either a learner or a digital mentor can register through Alay Kapwa’s Facebook page.