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Forum: Lifelong Participation Through Digital Technology – Melbourne Nov 2017

“We should get rid of the term retirement…I’m expecting to work until I’m 90, but the nature of work and my participation in society will change.”

The Lifelong Participation through Digital Technology Forum

The Lifelong Participation through Digital Technology Forum was designed to realise the potential for digital technology to support enhanced participation in later life by joining up ideas, resources and initiatives at the national level.

“Getting retired means being able to pursue completely new dreams, finally having impact on the world… Maybe moving from what most of us do, which is trying to fulfill the expectations of society by getting a job, having children, building a house and so on, to living your life to its fullest.”

“…my grandkids have come to visit and they’ve set up Skype for me and now I can Skype with family and friends.”

 “…if people aren’t digitally literate to start off with, how can they access that increased learning and those international communities?”

This event brought together a selected group of high-level stakeholders from across Australian society.  Forum participants included representatives of not-for-profit groups, government departments, technology providers, researchers and community services organisations.

Our goal was to achieve collective impact by combining resources, scaling up existing initiatives and accelerating innovative social action projects. We concluded that:

Existing initiatives provide strong networks and resources to support digital literacy and inclusion for older Australians. They are playing a key role in connecting older Australians with new technology and breaking down barriers to access (such as lack of exposure to technology, fear of technology and lack of training). However, many organisations are reliant on volunteer efforts and short-term funding. The collaborative impact approach being adopted by the Australian Digital Inclusion Alliance offers one mechanism for connecting efforts, reducing duplication and building an evidence base as to the benefits of digital inclusion. The “Be Connected” network established by the Good Things Foundation can also assist with scaling up these initiatives, since members can apply for grant funding under the Department of Social Services Digital Literacy for Older Australians program. However, these initiatives mostly focus on supporting older Australians who are retired and digitally excluded.

In the future, many existing workers will be transitioning out of the workforce, either voluntarily or involuntarily due to the technological disruption of jobs, and will need to find alternative sources of income and/or meaningful activities and connections. Many are not aware of, or sufficiently empowered to engage independently with, the emerging opportunities created by developments in digital technology such as independent work arrangements, micro-enterprise, social entrepreneurship and online education. Furthermore, addressing this issue requires input and investment from a broader set of stakeholders. Thus, there appears to be a gap in terms of establishing an agenda and collaborative network to support less digitally literate mature workers to make successful transitions to new ways of working and participating in society.

The collective input of forum participants is captured in OUR REPORT.



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