NSW Government launches Tech Savvy Elders Roadshow to improve digital literacy of Aboriginal seniors

- November 9, 2017 2 MIN READ
Tech Savvy Elders

The NSW Government has launched the Tech Savvy Elders Roadshow for another year, which will take to 10 communities across regional and remote NSW to offer Aboriginal seniors the opportunity to develop their digital literacy.

Developed in collaboration with the Burraga Foundation and the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG), the Tech Savvy Elders program has been specifically designed for seniors, with lessons around using computers, tablets, email, smartphones, and so on.

Cindy Berwick, president of the AECG, said, “This initiative is important because it ensures Aboriginal Elders in our communities are connected with our young ones in this age of digital technology. It also provides another medium in which to communicate our culture.”

Minister for Ageing, Tanya Davies said there are huge benefits to being online, particularly for older people in rural areas.

“Being able to connect with friends and loved ones, and have access to services and information more easily, is what Tech Savvy Elders is all about,” she said.

The program works alongside the organisation MGoals, which works to encourage schools to collaborate with their local Aboriginal community to build a local community website. These websites share and celebrate local history, and cultural information and programs being run in support of Aboriginal education.

With the Tech Savvy Elders program, MGoals has elders learn alongside students. Students assist elders in learning to use digital devices, and then record an interview with the elder to learn about their life and experiences, with this then uploaded to the community website.

As MGoals explains it, the program provides Aboriginal seniors with the opportunity to share their knowledge and insights with young people, as well as the wider community, and in doing so allows the community to appreciate and acknowledge the stories, wisdom, and life experience that seniors have to share.

The regional roadshow will see classes held in Queanbeyan, Taree, Dubbo, Peak Hill, Muswellbrook, Walgett, Wagga Wagga, Bega, and Lismore through to August next year, with a class also held this week at the Redfern Community Centre in Sydney.

Also looking to capture community stories is the Kurdiji 1.0 Project.

With the inaugural Australian Youth Development Index released last year finding that the suicide rate for Indigenous males aged 25 to 29 is 90 per 100,000, the highest figure reported globally, Kurdiji will be an app aiming to connect youth to their communities and Indigenous identity in order to reduce feelings of isolation and foster a sense of belonging.

The app is the next evolution of work done by Warlpiri elders in the remote Northern Territory community of Lajamanu. After the suicide of a young man in the community in 2005, the elders decided to take matters into their own hands and established the Milpirri Festival to spread the ideas of Kurdiji among their young people, their aim to foster a sense of belonging.

Now the Warlpiri elders are looking to translate this into an app to reach Indigenous Australians across the country, teaming up with researchers and techies to run a crowdfunding campaign in order to bring it to life.

You can learn more about the Tech Savvy Elders Roadshow here.

Image source: MGoals.