Robert 'Bob' Lewis has learnt a lot in his 90 years, working as a cattle station worker, mechanic, boilermaker, and fisherman across Queensland. In the past year though, Bob has been adding another set of skills to his repertoire: digital skills.
Bob is currently writing an autobiographical book sharing his experiences from his 25 years as a fisherman in the Gulf of Carpentaria. But covering so much ground can be a daunting task. Thankfully, computer dictation software - and learning the digital skills to use it - has made his goal much easier.
Bob was lent a computer from Be Connected Network Partner Ravenshoe Community Centre through the Digital Devices Grant to write his book. Bob has been getting support from digital mentors at the centre to set up and use Dragon Dictation, which converts his speech into words in a digital document. Since he started attending Be Connected, Bob has learnt how to independently dictate words, back up drafts, and insert photos into his book using a computer at home.
'I’m learning a little bit every day I come in here' Bob says. “[It’s said that] when you get old, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But I’m an old dog and still learning!”
'Knowledge is no burden to carry, no matter what you learn.”
Jo Blacker, Community Development Program Manager at Ravenshoe Community Centre, sees the difference learning digital skills has made to the lives of older community members like Bob, allowing them to preserve and share their legacies.
'Be Connected is so important because it gives people the opportunity to tell their life story. They did not have the capacity to record their story, and now they do through digital skills,' Jo says.
'[Be Connected] is a valuable asset for our community and we take pride in it. It’s such a win for us, it highlights older people from our community and helps them live on forever.”
Bob, too, is thankful for Be Connected and the support he has received at Ravenshoe Community Centre. He says that learning from digital mentors has been pivotal to making his book a reality.
'Everyone [at Ravenshoe Community Centre] has helped me,' Bob says. “I wouldn't have achieved what I've achieved, because I wouldn't have written the book unless I had some help.”
Bob is now on his way to finishing his novel using dictation software. And after that? Well, he says if his first book proves to be successful, it’ll be onto writing another one covering his years working on a cattle station - with the help of his computer, of course!
Ravenshoe Community Centre is a member of Good Things Foundation’s Be Connected Network and Digital Devices grant holder to lend out devices to those in their community. Find out more about the Digital Devices grant here.