A look inside the Be Connected program

The challenge

Our everyday lives increasingly rely on digital and online services, and for some older Australians this digital world can be daunting and isolating.

Older Australians with low digital skills face greater barriers than the rest of the population in accessing important online services such as banking, grocery shopping and government services. The COVID-19 pandemic increased our reliance on technology for our day-to-day tasks, and many older Australians faced significant challenges in maintaining social connection and accessing goods and services during this time.

Bridging the digital divide for older Australians is essential in this connected world.

The solution

The Be Connected program is an Australian Government initiative implemented in partnership by the Department of Social Services, the eSafety Commissioner and Good Things Foundation Australia to help older Australians get the most out of going online. 

Be Connected helps people aged 50 years and over engage with digital technology, empowering them to use the internet and everyday technology to thrive in the digital world. 

eSafety enlisted Androgogic to host their Be Connected Learner Portal, a website where learners can complete short activities on a range of topics designed to improve their digital skills including how to make video calls, shop and bank online safely, and more.

 The Learner Portal’s free content is designed to inform and entertain, with a vast range of digital resources including articles, tips, podcasts, webinars, self-paced courses, and even games and practice areas where learners can sharpen key skills like swiping, clicking and tapping.

 For people who prefer to learn with others, Be Connected also offers in-person computer classes through its more than 3,500 Network Partners across Australia.

The results

The Be Connected program has engaged over 1 million learners, significantly exceeding the original target of 300,000 learners over three years (100k per year).

An evaluation of the Be Connected program conducted by Swinburne University showed that the program had a significant impact on learners’ digital skills and knowledge including using smartphones and tablets, knowing how to stay safe online, making video calls, banking online and other activities. The evaluation also showed that Be Connected learners saw increased social connectedness and a significant reduction in loneliness.

Well I love meeting different people because for a start I was living on my own and I just had the four walls to talk to and they wouldn’t answer you! I turned 80 the other day. You’ve got to get out and meet people and do different things. Wednesdays I’ve got computer classes.

- Louise, Be Connected learner