In June 2019, the federal government initiated a program to help older Australians improve their digital skills so that they could stay connected and participate fully in their community.

Little did we know how invaluable the ‘Be Connected’ program would prove to be. ‘Be Connected’ provides funding to numerous neighbourhood houses to strengthen and expand the excellent work they already do in digital literacy training.

One such neighbourhood house at the forefront of this program is Pangerang Community House in Wangaratta.

In collaboration with Tennille Hall at Pangerang house, 120 members from my community have been trained as volunteer digital mentors. They are now confident in their skills to support new learners in the community. Pangerang house is also engaged with other neighbourhood houses across the state to train mentors and expand this program.

The success of this program across the state has been possible because of the passionate dedication of Tennille Hall, Amanda Scott, Lastari Duggan, Helen James, Tanya Baylis, Justine Wescott and Peter Thomas and countless others, who have helped our older and vulnerable citizens to maintain a connection with their loved ones and access health care.

There was no more meaningful time for this than during the pandemic lockdown periods experienced in Victoria.

I call on the government to continue to fund this essential program that supports our wonderful communities, and I commend those in Pangerang House.

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