Digital mentors are at the frontline of efforts to improve the digital skills, literacy and inclusion of Australians. Most are volunteers, and many have undertaken their own journey to improve their digital participation. With approximately 1 million volunteer hours offered through the Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association (ASCCA) since it began in August 1998, for example, we can confidently say that digital mentors are the heart of the digital revolution.
This report provides a summary and evaluation of the Digital Mentors: The Heart of the Digital Revolution forum held in Sydney on 26 July, 2019. The event attracted more than 80 mentors, program managers, and leaders of organisations involved in digital mentoring.
The aim of the forum was to establish the challenges, opportunities and requirements to build and sustain a nation-wide digital mentoring revolution. This report sets out the stories of those who presented at the event, and the collective challenges, ‘lessons learnt’ and opportunities that were discussed throughout the day in interactive design workshops. The report concludes with a set of five recommendations.
The five recommendations established through the event are not exhaustive of the work, input and innovation needed to extend the movement of digital mentoring in Australia, but provides, at least, a starting point.
- Invest nationally and locally in raising awareness about the importance of digital inclusion for all Australians
- Extend research to understand the key barriers to digital inclusion and participation, and develop best practice approaches to effective digital mentoring
- Inject new funding into programs that offer long-term digital mentoring and ensure their sustainability, visibility and availability for all who need them
- Promote coordination and collaboration among organisations that support digital mentors, to avoid competitive practices
- Innovate to improve ICT access, and through funding mechanisms that might see digital mentoring as an essential social service, as these can go a long way toward improving digital skills and participation