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Record attempt at digital dancing just one way to upskill

October 20th, 2020

At 10 am this Friday, scores of senior citizens across the Ipswich district in Queensland will attempt a world record for a most unusual event – a virtual, sit-down hokey pokey.

It is difficult to find the benchmark for such a specialised challenge but not surprisingly, that’s not the point. The record attempt is being organised by the Ipswich District Crime Prevention Unit in partnership with Neighbourhood Watch Australasia, Neighbourhood Watch Community Volunteer Groups across the Ipswich District, Able Australia and the Ipswich Hospital Foundation. But it is also an initiative of Get Online Week, a national program run by the Good Things Foundation.

The Foundation was established to promote digital inclusivity and find ways to engage the 2.5 million Australians who don’t have the digital skills that so many of us take for granted. Get Online Week is a key part of its approach.

Good Things Foundation National Director Jessica Wilson says there will be 700 digital skills mentoring events across Australia next week. And if there is one message that is coming through this year’s program is an understanding of how important digital upskilling has become during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The data bears it out. The recent PwC Not for Profit CEO survey found that 77 per cent of NfPs said that the need for digital upskilling of workers had become a higher priority in the context of COVID-19.

The pandemic also showed how important digital skills are to wellbeing, safety and taking part in day to day activities such as accessing government and health services, paying bills, online shopping, social interaction, and applying for jobs.

“I think people during lockdown have seen that being able to operate digitally is far more necessary,’’ Jess says.

“And this year's campaign will respond to the needs of our communities during the pandemic. We’ll support people to connect with friends and family, stay safe online, learn how to better use their devices, find reliable health information and apply for work online.”

Anecdotally, some organisations that had undertaken technology upgrades before the pandemic found they were better placed than some other organisations to deal with the working from home consequences that followed COVID-19.

“Many organisations have responded really well to the immediacy of their circumstances,’’ Jess says. “Now, they are thinking strategically about the use of digital technology.’’

In last week’s Budget, the Federal government committed to funding the Be Connected digital literacy program for older Australians through more than 3000 community organisations across the country. The Good Things Foundation co-ordinates the Be Connected network.

 The program has already helped 750,000 people to be more confident and safe online, but we know that there are many more in our community who need this essential support,” Jess says.

People needing support to learn digital skills can find a local Get Online Week event by contacting Good Things Foundation on 1300 795 897 or going to www.getonlineweek.com.

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