supporing local nfp community centre through pandemic


For young digital natives, it was social networking sites, video chat platforms and online gaming platforms that kept them connected to their peers through the challenges of COVID-19. But for our elderly, staying in touch with their networks was much harder. In times like these, we rely on community centres, like Lake Macquarie’s local – The Place, in Charlestown to step in and help us bridge the digital divide. The Place delivered a Community and Intergenerational Digital Exchange Program in July 2020, made possible through funding from the Good Things Foundation as part of the Australian Government Be Connected Program.

The aim of The Place’s program, termed cDex and iDex, was to train community members and local high school students to become digital mentors to their immediate and extended families and neighbours to enhance digital literacy learning and support safely into the community.


The Place Centre Manager, Cristelle Govendeer said, “We knew that young people generally have a good understanding of digital technology but perhaps lack the empathy, patience, and skills to teach it to older, less digitally savvy family members, especially grandparents.


“By training young people as digital mentors, we helped build their empathy, communication, and teaching skills. They in turn were equipped to take those skills and apply them to helping their families to learn the skills to engage online utilising the Be Connected resources.”


The success of the program is apparent as The Place has trained 24 community members and 60 high school students to become Digital Mentors. These people have gone on to support those over 50 in their family or community to build critical digital skills.


In total, the new digital mentors invested 133 hours of their time training and supporting 82 community members. The outcomes of this program, however, extend to more than just digital literacy.


It provided opportunities for young people to deepen their connections with their own families and build their leadership skills. 

“It is a privilege to be able to assist The Place with the right technologies and advice to allow them to maintain their focus on community initiatives and programs. Every minute they struggle with technology, or technological constraints, is a minute lost on delivering services to the community.

“It is also great to see the technology we provide being used to keep The Place competitive, and to provide a modern service offering to their clients and community.”

Rob Dawson

Myrtec BDM


“A lot of the time teenagers are seen as really clueless but through this program I felt helpful and important, like a leader!” said one young Digital Mentor.


Another participant said, “This program made it very rewarding to be able to help people stay connected especially in the times of COVID, overall, it was just a great experience that gave me a lot of skills to help other people.”


The Place doesn’t have plans to stop here. They are currently working with Hunter owned IT company, Myrtec, to procure new technology that will support their organisation to remain digitally viable and competitive into the future.


The Place: Charlestown Community Centre




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