We’re living in a digital age, but many older Australians are being left behind and lack the skills to take advantage of being connected.

With nearly one in five Australians expected to be over 65 years old in 2035, Telstra is committed to reducing the digital divide for thousands of older Australians to ensure good health, full social participation, and independent living through their entire life span.

Our Tech Savvy Seniors program gives thousands of older Australians – particularly those in regional and remote areas of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland – the opportunity to learn how to confidently and easily master new technology and skills.

Through partnership with the NSW Government, we recently travelled to ten regional towns – St Claire, Forster, Guyra, Barraba, Dubbo, Griffith, Wagga Wagga, Gundagai, Temora and Bathurst – bringing digital literacy training to over 200 seniors over eight days.

Our eager senior ‘students’ were excited to cover a variety of topics from managing data usage, shopping on the internet, using social media to stay connected with family and friends, participating in local community activities, and importantly staying safe online and being aware of scams.

Google Earth, Skype and the great benefits of super-fast broadband on the nbn were also hot topics. During one of the sessions we were able to locate the hometown of a lady who’d left her home in Greece over fifty years ago and unfortunately has never had the chance to return. Tears sprang to her eyes when we found her childhood home on Google Earth.

At the opening, a digital advocate recounted how she’d been impacted to learn that her grandmother had passed while she was travelling overseas and couldn’t be contacted by her family, which is unusual in today’s truly connected world.

We’re also finding more and more that being connected enables older Australians to remain independent as long as possible by conducting medical appointments in the comfort of their own home, for example.

Often for the first timers, technology is a cause of anxiety due to a low level of comfort with it, but once they’re shown the ropes, participants start seeing the clear benefits for themselves, and in fact are fascinated by the potential of technology. The best part is seeing the excitement and smiles on their faces when they make video calls to a loved one!

I’m proud to be involved with the Tech Savvy Seniors program that’s helping older Australians maintain an active engagement in life through involvement in social and productive activities and interaction with others. The program ensures the whole population of Australia is taken along the journey in our efforts to become an innovative nation.

How we’re bridging the digital divide
Through partnerships with Government, we’re delivering free technology training to help seniors from multicultural backgrounds get connected online. The face-to-face technology training sessions are offered in a variety of languages, including Arabic, Cantonese, Croatian, Dari, Greek, Italian, Macedonian, Mandarin and Vietnamese. Find out more https://www.telstra.com.au/tech-savvy-seniors