Over the past few years there has been a significant push towards more digitalised services. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic forced many of SECL’s participants to adapt to the online world.
SECL consulted with women participants to understand why they weren’t engaging in online activities. We found that participants lacked the knowledge, confidence, and experience to use digital devices. Some were unable to access a laptop or tablet and were using their smart phones.
This prompted SECL to better understand how women could be supported to navigate and engage with online learning and services. While we recognised that digital literacy programs already exist, the overwhelming response from participants was that language support was not offered at these programs. This was a gap that SECL felt passionate to address and led to the development of a women’s digital literacy program catering to the needs of newly arrived women.
- Low levels of English literacy
- Lack of language support provided at existing digital literacy programs
- Lack of digital literacy – 98% rated their skills as poor
- Women who are newly arrived feeling isolated and disconnected
SECL’s women’s digital literacy program was developed in response to the needs of newly arrived women and aims to foster social inclusion.
The program is delivered across three terms, with 21 participants attending each term for 2-hour weekly sessions for 10 weeks at Hampton Park Library. Language has been identified as a significant barrier for participants to engage with existing programs, so SECL includes a Dari speaking co-facilitator as well as an accredited interpreter to support with delivery.
The content of the program focuses on smartphones and how to use practical applications such as reminders in calendars. Once participants feel more confident they progress to using laptops.
A workbook is produced that supports participants with their learning which comprises picture- based instructions and visual aids, with minimal text being used and keywords translated into Dari.
- 84% of participants felt more confident about using a computer or laptop
- 65 % of participants said they had a better understanding of library services
- 78% of participants rated their digital literacy skills as good
Enhanced feelings of connection
The post evaluations found that 100% of participants stated they felt more connected to other women in the community due to their participation in the program and the library’s services.
Increased confidence using digital devices
Women reported they felt more independent as they didn’t have to rely on their children to show them how to use their phone or a laptop with 65% saying they
felt more confident.
felt more confident.
Additional financial resources
SECL was successful in obtaining a grant of $10,000 from the City of Casey to support women to pruchase laptops. SECL substitutes part of cost of the laptop
through this grant.
The Afghan Australian Community and Settlement Support Program is funded by Home Affairs through The Social Policy Group