Across Melbourne, Polish seniors are learning about digital through the Be Connected programs run by the Polish Community Council of Victoria. The program has offered educational and intergenerational opportunities for its members, including the launch of their own IT classes in 2015.
Not long after starting their own digital skills program, Justyna Tarnowska, Community Engagement Officer, noticed that enthusiasm for learning new things remained high with seniors. Justyna says, “Our seniors were very engaged with the program and we’re eager to broaden their knowledge on computers and technology. This enthusiasm motivated us greatly to help them with how the modern world works today.”
A few years after starting their IT classes, the Council saw an opportunity to blend their learning with Be Connected. This included translating and adapting lessons to be more suitable to their community.
“Being a Be Connected Network Partner gives us the flexibility to meet our community members’ needs. We run other activities to help develop seniors knowledge, but our digital skills classes are always very popular. We now teach three groups across Ardeer, Oakleigh and Rowville. Our seniors love how varied the topics are and our Community Engagement events are always popular.”
The Polish Community Centre also provides interactive activities during festive seasons and encourages seniors to participate in Get Online Week and IT support days. They ensure Polish traditions and history are remembered and respected and have found that this way, they can bring together their Polish community members including Social Support Groups, group coordinators and volunteers.
“We all get along and appreciate the time we spend together and the help we offer to one another.”
Recently, they decided to develop a mentoring team in order to provide digital support to their community more efficiently.
“Our clients live all around Melbourne metro area and it is very important for us to be able to support everyone in this area because they all deserve the best service they can get. We are glad that participants willingly attend our classes as well as our events. We receive a lot of positive feedback. It encourages us to keep doing what we are doing, which is helping all Polish seniors to feel appreciated for who they are.”