Ravenshoe Community Centre offers a range of programs to their community, including community and family support, rural and remote homecare services, a community garden and most recently, digital skills classes for over 50’s.
Jo Blacker, Community Development Coordinator, says, “Over 30% of our population is over 50 and only one in three in our community have finished high school or equivalent. Loneliness, social isolation and disconnection are the highest cause of depression and mental illness in our society. Learning digital skills not only helps people to communicate and connect remotely but provides an opportunity for personal social connections. Further, in this technological age, digital skills are essential for navigating everyday living, especially in a regional town that does not offer services locally. Without rudimentary digital skills, a person can be severely disadvantaged.”
Since joining the Be Connected Network, the Centre now delivers personalised digital classes. Participants are encouraged to go through the modules on the Be Connected Learning Portal at their own pace, and then they’ll learn what they’re most interested in, for example, how to download photos, how to open a Facebook account, how to access emails etc.
Making social connections
The Centre has had an overwhelmingly positive response from their community. Jo says, “Every week new people turn up to join the workshops and many people return after an absence to learn new skills. Our Be Connected participants are a social group enjoying the personal connections they are making. Be Connected participants celebrate events (Christmas, Melbourne Club, Easter) together with their own personal ‘Be Connected Parties’ and have become a part of the Ravenshoe Community Centre family.”
Jo tells us of one particular story of a woman named Margaret (pictured left). “Margaret started Be Connected workshops with very little computer experience. She was able to turn on a computer but didn’t know where to go from there. She had a mobile phone but the only function she was able to perform were phone calls. Since participating in Be Connected Workshops, Margaret now has a sound working knowledge of both her computer (which she purchased after being involved in Be Connected Workshops) and her mobile phone. Margaret is now confident with emailing, internet shopping, searching for recipes and using MyGov. She now has a very active Facebook account where she uploads photos and communicates with her family. This has resulted in Margaret connecting with her grandson and attending his graduation in Rockhampton where she met her 3rd great-grandson for the first time. Margaret’s life has been greatly enriched through the Be Connected program.”
Ravenshoe Community Centre has received two Be Connected grants, which has enabled their digital workshops to run over the course of 12 months. These workshops have introduced new members to the range of services they deliver at the Centre. They use the Be Connected Learning Portal as a resource to complement their program. Jo says, “Every community is different and your program will be successful if you cater to your community's needs.”
“Connectivity is one of the most important things in any community. Be Connected has not only connected our community remotely but has also allowed social connections locally. It is always satisfying to teach people new skills, especially skills that promote self-esteem, personal capacity building and independence,” says Jo.