Helping seniors make more meaningful connections
At nbn, we want to help bridge the digital divide in regional, rural and remote communities to help ensure they are connected to the vital communication services the nbn® network provides.
We know broadband connectivity can help improve health and lifestyle outcomes through enabling access to remote healthcare providers, online social networks, and educational opportunities.
Based in Geelong (Wadawurrung Country), Victoria, community librarian Vicky Dunmore needs no convincing of the power of connectivity to help improve the lives of seniors living in regional Australia.
Seniors like her parents, Carol and Trevor.
A vital conduit
For Vicky, online access is a vital conduit allowing her to help lift the digital capability of her elderly parents Carol, 75, and Trevor, 81, who live more than 335 kilometres away in Deniliquin (Wamba Wamba Perrepa Perrepa Country), New South Wales.
From helping them set up Zoom calls to communicate with family members during the COVID-19 pandemic, to opening their eyes to the world of digital streaming, smart TVs and social media, Vicky and her siblings have played a key role from afar in supporting their parents’ digital aspirations.
“I think we’ve helped them realise they need to engage in technology,” says Vicky.
Connecting with senior Australians
While the situation is improving, research continues to show that senior Australians feel the most digitally excluded.
The 2021 Australian Digital Inclusion Index revealed only 27 per cent of those aged over 75 feel digitally included.
In line with nbn’s purpose to lift the digital capability of Australia, we recently launched a campaign aimed at supporting seniors to become more digitally capable and connected: Made for More Meaningful Connections.
The initiative connects seniors with the digital tools they need, both online and at community events, to make the most of the nbn network.
It’s supported by a new, dedicated webpage containing information on what to consider when purchasing an nbn-powered plan from a phone and internet provider.
The page also links to helpful resources, such as nbn’s Online Skills Check and Resources (OSCAR) tool, as well as a checklist to help simplify the connection process.
Help from afar
As a community librarian, Vicky has seen the benefits of tech help drop-in sessions for seniors organised by nbn in partnership with educational organisation, U3A.
“I'm obviously not an IT person. I'm just a librarian, but we do help a lot of people with technology and it’s taking up more and more of our time.”
Vicky and her colleagues help with everything from advice on how to use a smartphone or tablet device, through to accessing digital health records via the Medicare app.
“Basically, it's helping them bridge that gap between the paperwork to the e-world.”
Vicky says her parents have been keen to reap the benefits access to the digital world can bring, but sometimes need a little guidance.
This is especially the case with her Mum, who has some issues with her eyesight and needs extra support to access technology.
“It’s great having adult children who can help with technology,” says Carol.
“The grandkids love coming to the country to visit because we have access to online streaming services, and we know how to use them.”
Despite such challenges, Vicky says her parents are still eager to embrace what digital technology has to offer – on their own terms.
“Mum likes doing Sudoku and Wordle online, and will also download audio books.
“They certainly can take photos on their smartphones and send them to us, and both do Messenger and Facebook.”
Vicky’s Mum also enrolled in a U3A course at her local library to learn computing skills.
“I think Dad's less practical, but Mum is definitely more interested in getting the skillset required to move forward.
“But, I think, as far as accessing things like government services and online documentation, that's still a challenge.”
Vicky’s shared role as her parents’ tech support was on display during a recent visit to Deniliquin when they jumped at the chance to get help setting up their new printer.
“I think it's just that people like Mum and Dad weren't born with computers and when they were at work, they really were just pivoting across to computers.
“The challenge is that some seniors have not progressed, and others have really embraced it.”