Speech: Digital Literacy Programs


This 4-minute speech was written as part of my university studies. It is intended as a SAMPLE only and was not delivered in any public forum. The images are slides created by me to accompany the speech.

Digital literacy programs

Good morning, Minister, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for taking the time to listen to me today. Let me introduce myself.

My name is Ken. I work in the public library system in South Australia and teach technology skills to people, often in the 65 plus age bracket. They are people that are keen to learn but feel left behind. They feel they don’t have the digital skills they need. Some, simply believe it’s too late to learn, while others do not have access to the technology they need.

Me? I feel lucky. Lucky I was born white and male. Lucky I was born in Australia – ‘the lucky country’. Why? Why do I feel this way? The answer is simple. Being who I am and being born when and where I was, has given me many opportunities. Opportunities I might not have otherwise had.

What if I was born in a different country? What if I couldn’t go to school? What if I couldn’t get access to technology? Would I be a different person to who I am now? Possibly. Probably. Almost certainly.

I see people every day come into the library feeling defeated and full of self-doubt, but leave feeling upbeat. They leave excited about the possibility of learning new skills. They’re eager. They want to learn.

The Good Things Foundation tells us that as people age, their risk of digital exclusion increases. They get left behind, and they have few peers they can turn to for help. Eighty per cent of people over 65 struggle to keep up with technology changes. In 2018, about 45 per cent of people over 65 years old did not access the Internet. That number is staggering. Think about all the things those people missed out on. Social communication with friends and family. Interaction with government and business. Banking. Education. The opportunities they gave up were enormous!

COVID-19 has forced more people online, including the 65 plus age bracket. Older Australians are now using the Internet more for email, or entertainment, but they still lag behind their younger compatriots. Why? Is it because they don’t want to be online? Is it because they don’t have the skills? Or perhaps it’s because they can’t afford to pay for access?

The Australian Digital Inclusion Index 2020 says affordability is a barrier to older Australians accessing the Internet. About one third of older Australians have a below average household income, earning less than $35,000 per year. Money, is an issue.

How can the government help to break down this barrier? If money is the issue, then funding is the answer.

Continuing to fund digital literacy programs will help older Australians access technology and learn new skills. You will help them increase their skills, so they can continue to learn. You will enable them, and empower them, to thrive.

Having a yearning to learn is one part of the puzzle. Having the skills and ability to access online education is another. Through my work in libraries, it is clear that older Australians want to learn. They want to continue their education, and some, would embrace university studies. Continued funding of programs is the glue that binds these pieces together and will give older Australians the chance to be mature-age students, so they do not have to ask themselves – ‘Do I feel lucky?’

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