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Digital Technologies to Enrich the Lives of Older Rural Australians

Digital Technologies to Enrich the Lives of Older Rural Australians.

A joint project between the University of Southern Queensland and GraniteNet Inc.

   USQ researchers DrLisa McDonald form the Australian Centre for Sustainable Business and Development and Catherine Arden from the School of Linguistic, Audult and Specialist Education have been funded by the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR)  to develop a digital learning and research program with their partner organisation GraniteNet in Stanthorpe.

   Under the Foundation's Caring for Ageing Rural Australians (CARA) Program, the aim of this pilot program is to enable technology training for selected aged care volunteers in Stanthorpe to assist frail or otherwise debilated aged care residents to use computer  tablets for everyday communications, making new connections and other leisure pursuits.

   The project is being run by GraniteNet, a Community technology social enterprise located in the Stanthorpe CBD, with volunteers to be based in local aged care facilities. Established through a research and development partnership with USQ in 2006,  GraniteNet offers a wide range of computer based services in local community, internet hosting for approximately 130 local community groups via the community web portal (www.granitenet.com.au), and provides face-to-face technology training and support for the community with an emphasis on support the older members.

   New research into ageing and digital technologies in the Digital Futures-Collaborative Research Networkland community volunteers' learning and digital technologies in SoLASE supports the project. The research shows that, given opportunity and support, older Australians enjoy using technologies which are meaningful to them, and demonstrate high degrees of technical proficiency in creating interactive social and support networks. The research also shows that the process of supporting the learning of others equally enhances the learning outcome of community volunteers. These benefits combine with the intention of the FRRR to build local capacity leadership toward more sustainable and meaningful futures for older rural Australians.

The pilot project commences February 2015 and will continue to run until June, with the prospect of continuing with community assisted funding.

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