Good things come to those online

During Get Online Week, more than 1,000 events will take place across Australia helping people to get more out of life online – and you can get involved.

In the digital world we live in today, here in Australia, most of us are connected to the internet.

We use technology and connectivity in so many aspects of our lives that we’re often thinking about ways to balance our screen time and connecting with people in the real world.

And, for many of us, we take technology and all that it offers for granted.

Yet, the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics Household Use of Information Technology data shows that there are more than 2.5 million Australians who are not online at all and more than 4 million people are limited users of the internet, as stated by the newly-released 2019 Australian Digital Inclusion Index report.

That’s a lot of people who are not engaging with our ever-increasing digital world – and it’s not just because they’re not yet connected to services over the nbn™ broadband access network.

Digital inclusion in Australia

The 2019 Australian Digital Inclusion Index report shows that the level of digital inclusion in Australia is slowly improving over time across three key areas:

  • Access – internet access, internet technology, and internet data allowance
  • Affordability – relative expenditure, and value of expenditure
  • Digital Ability – attitudes, basic skills, and activities

There’s still a lot of work we need to do, though, to ensure no one is left behind in our digital world.

The internet has the power to increase employability, reduce isolation, and improve health and wellbeing, as well as help people to save money and connect them to the things and people they love.

According to the report, the groups of Australians particularly at risk of missing out on opportunities the internet can provide include people in low-income households, people aged 65 years and over, people who did not complete secondary school, and people with disability.  

Nothing but Good Things

At Good Things Foundation, we believe in the power of technology to improve people’s lives.

That’s why we’re running our second Get Online Week in Australia from 14-20 October 2019 to encourage people to get more out of life online.

Good Things Foundation has been running this campaign in the UK for 12 years and, in our second year in Australia, we already have more than 900 hundred organisations participating.

Through this nationwide network of community organisations, Get Online Week will see in excess of 1,000 events take place in communities right across Australia.

By understanding their communities, event holders reach out to those most in need of their support, helping some of the most excluded people in society to improve their skills and open up more of the benefits that the internet has to offer – no matter what their current level of experience.

Just some of the events include digital competitions and quizzes, themed events inviting people to discover how to support their health online, and learning how to research local history.

There will also be pop-up roadshows taking technology to people in caravan parks, plus the chance to try virtual reality for the first time. 

Some groups are embarking on a bus tour, using Google Maps to find their way and documenting their journey using smartphones, before posting their adventures on social media.

And, of course, we know the best way to engage people in learning something new is to provide a good cup of tea, some cake and a BBQ.

All of this helps people to learn new skills while having fun, and builds face-to-face connections at the same time. We encourage you to get involved by finding an event near you.  

The power of getting online

But don’t just take our word for it about the power of getting online.

This Get Online Week, to help inspire others to get involved, we’re sharing the stories of four real people, each with a different story about their digital journeys and how they’re getting more out of life online.

Like Mr Lan, who migrated to Australia in 2006 with limited English language and digital literacy skills.

With the help of his digital mentors, he's now using a wide range of technology to get around on Melbourne's public transport and keep in touch with his family.

“I know that if people want to communicate with each other and the world around them, you need to know how to use technology. Especially to those who do not know English, using Google Translate helps us reach what we want easily,” says Mr Lan.

Mr Lan.

Or Jean, an accomplished writer, who started realising the benefits of technology when she began writing her second novel.

Instead of weeks of study in the field, and even more time reading books, Jean can now do her research sitting comfortably at home on her laptop.

Jean’s advice to others – especially seniors – is: “To take the plunge and overcome any resistance to computers. You will soon find it impossible to do all you want to do without a computer. These machines are here to stay and, if you don’t accept that, you will be left behind”.  

Jean.

Get involved and get online

If you know someone in your family or your community who’s not yet online, you can help them find support at a local event. Or, get involved in Get Online Week by hosting an event at your organisation.

Simply visit Get Online Week to register your event or to find one close to you.

We’re so pleased this year, with the support of NBN Co, to be able to extend the reach of our campaign, and look forward to seeing all the fantastic events across the country helping people to get more out of life online.

Jess Wilson is National Director of the Good Things Foundation Australia.