Young Mentors is an intergenerational program bringing together secondary school students and older Australians.
It supports older Australians to improve their digital skills by bringing them together with young people in a mentoring capacity, to share digital skills and knowledge.
Not only does it facilitate essential digital learning for older Australians and build their confidence in using technology, but it also gives young people the opportunity to develop valuable teaching, communication and leadership skills.
The program involves a community organisation or group partnering with a school to coordinate one-hour sessions that are delivered weekly over six weeks. Young Mentors has been developed by eSafety as part of the Be Connected initiative.
We are calling on schools, libraries, councils, aged residential care facilities and other community groups to get involved.
If you are a student, parent or part of an organisation that supports older Australians and are interested in taking part in Young Mentors, we encourage you to share this page with your school or organisation.
If you are interested in supporting older Australians to learn about and use technology as an individual, you might like to volunteer with a local community organisation.
The Be Connected partner map has details on community organisations in the Be Connected Network that all share a passion for digital inclusion. Explore the map and contact organisations near you directly to see if you can lend a hand.
- At Amana Living, we found a lot of our staff were being asked questions about how to use mobile phones, how to use iPads.
- The people are coming to libraries all the time.
- It's people looking for help with technology, and we just don't have the resources on our own.
- My memory isn't what it used to be.
- I've got five kids, and you'd think out of that lot one of them would be willing to teach me how to, but none of them are.
- They close themselves off, and in today's world, that meant negating abilities to access forms that they needed for medical care, ability to communicate with us, and it was just through fear.
- This is what this program does so beautifully, children teaching adults how not to be frightened.
- We're using technology something the students are very familiar with.
- We're bringing together the two generations.
- We're giving our girls the opportunity to teach and learn so many skills that they've never had the opportunity to use before.
- This is a great way to get your school involved to open the doors to the local community, it empowers them to share what they know.
- The seniors develop a respect for young people, they can see that they have a lot to offer, and to contribute to society.
- This is such a marvellous opportunity.
- How lucky are we?
- The eSafety Commissioner, they have a host of learning material.
- The training booklet that I was working from has got everything in it.
- Having the Be Connected website and to be able to access all of those online modules is really wonderful.
- There's a lot of tutorials to help us.
- The students are given prepared lessons.
- It was all just training to set us up to know how to work in the environment with the senior citizens.
- They had the opportunity to learn technology, to learn that it didn't hurt, how to set privacy settings so that they felt safe.
- Because this is one on one, it doesn't matter what the person's skill or capacity is, you can grade and adapt the session for them.
- I do like the one to one.
- They're quite happy to repeat it all again.
- You just go at your own pace.
- This has been amazing. If you got a refresher course, I'll be back.
- There's always something that I've missed.
- You can come here and they'll teach you.
- She's been very good.
- My granddaughter became pregnant, and I would've liked to have gone over there when it was born but through Facebook, I saw every day of that baby's life!
- They're always really happy to see you.
- It makes me happy and it just brings a smile to their face and it brings a smile to mine.
- It gives me a lot of like interpersonal skills.
- You have to build a connection with them.
- If I had to describe the course in one word, it would be valuable.
- A miracle.
- I'd say to another aged care organisation or another school, go for it because there are benefits that you can't predict.
- There is happiness and joy and confidence.
- I would strongly recommend schools and other partners in our community take this on because the rewards are just immense.
- I can't think of a reason why not to do it.
- Jump in there, sign up and away you go.
The Young Mentors progam
Who can register for this program?
Any organisation with a connection to older Australians or young people, looking to build the skills of their community, is encouraged to register. Mentoring sessions take place over six weeks, and are one-to-one and self-paced.
- School coordinator looking for community work, volunteering, work experience or leadership program for their students.
- Curriculum leader looking to include the program as part of a subject such as Information Communication Technology.
Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award
The Young Mentors program can be used towards the Service section of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Awards.
If you are a community program lead in a library, you can connect with a local school and enhance program offerings for older visitors to the library.
For coordinators in a Community Centre or Computer Club, you can connect with a local school to help build confidence in technology and reduce feelings of isolation for older visitors across the organisation’s offered programs.
Aged or residential care facilities
If you are a Lifestyle Manager in an aged/residential care setting, you can connect with a local school to help build your residents’ confidence in technology and independence in a fun and relaxed setting.
Older people deserve access to the internet and digital literacy should be a basic right.
We believe in the initiative, and we think it's really important that there's tailored ways of offering seniors an opportunity to explore the online world but in a safe and supportive way.
We've seen the value in intergenerational programs.
There's a mutual benefit.
Some people are very confident and ready to dive in.
Most people are a little bit nervous, and I think it's mainly fear of the unknown.
So most people can put their finger on some things that they've heard in the media.
Losing lots of money, for example, and identity theft are some of the things that people are concerned about.
But beyond that they're very vague about what it actually is that they're afraid of, and so it's really this big dark cloud of not knowing.
So to see a national initiative that is putting money and time and resources into making this something that schools and organisations like ours can pick up and run with is amazing.
The resources that we've received are fantastic.
They've helped us form the very beginning of the process, where you engage with a school, or likewise, a school could engage with an aged care organisation, all the way through to when you're actually delivering the sessions, and you've got students with mentees in a room and wondering what to do next.
Having the BeConnected website and to be able to access all of those online modules is really wonderful.
We've got comments from people that said at the beginning of the program they were too scared to even turn on a device, and by the end of the program they've purchased an iPad and are now using it every day.
The wonderful thing about a program like this is it's based on volunteering.
So, really, in order to run it, the costs are actually quite minimal, which is another fantastic reason why we're behind it.
The foundation of this working is a good relationship with the organisation that you're partnering with, whether it be a school or an aged care provider, and really clarifying together as a partnership what your expectations are, who's going to do what and when, and making sure that both parties are really comfortable with that.
And ultimately, what both organisations want is for the students and the seniors to be in the room together and be having a good time, and if you've got the foundation building blocks underneath that, then it'll be great.
Emily, Manager Enrichment & Volunteer Services
At Amana Living, a lot of our staff were being asked questions about how to use mobile phones, how to use iPads, and staff don't have the time, is really the reality.
I got involved primarily because I saw a need amongst our residents to learn technology.
A lot of residents who are handed down devices or given phones with family that don't have the time to teach them, and then they're stuck with it and they feel incompetent.
By working with a stranger, you then don't feel so exposed.
The students need somebody to teach.
Our residents, the older Australians, need somebody to teach them, and the benefit of having the eSafety Commissioner involved is that they have a host of really-well-thought out, really clear learning materials that we can take advantage of.
The process is really straightforward, from a registration point of view or the materials available.
So most of our residents come with a list of questions, but if they ever run out or if they ever hesitate, our students can then draw on all the material from BeConnected to keep going.
A lot of the benefits are not tangible.
Yes, people leave better able to use their phone, better able to use their device, but they also leave having built friendships, having gained confidence, and really just having had a good time.
We've really benefited from residents who have been talking to others and telling them how much they got out of the program, and then wanting to come and do it themselves.
It is an absolute pleasure to be a part of the program, to have the benefit of the BeConnected learning portal, to witness residents who come in, perhaps not that confident at the beginning, walk out six weeks later really happy with what they can do and to see relationships develop between them and the students.
I'd say to anybody, another aged care organisation, another school, go for it, because there are benefits that you can't predict.
There is a happiness and joy and confidence that you won't know you're gonna see till you see it.
Louise, Enrichment Technology Advisor
My granddaughter became pregnant and had a baby, and I would have loved to have seen that baby when it was born.
She was in Singleton and I would have liked to have gone over there and seen it when it was born, but we couldn't do that for various reasons.
But through Facebook, I saw every day of that baby's life until I got over there a year later.
And, I mean, that's incredible.
I was just delighted that I could have a one-to-one with somebody that wouldn't mind how many times they had to repeat it to teach me what I was learning that particular day.
And then they would give me the homework, which I had to do by next week. Which often didn't happen (laughs).
Before I came over, I used to feel like I would get into trouble, but you know, gradually you sort of work your way through everything.
As soon as I could have a tablet, I could do so much more.
And so I just recently now got a laptop, so I'm in the process of learning how to use a laptop.
These girls are patient, and they don't mind how many times you ask them the same question (laughs).
Because kids now, they grow up with all of this.
I mean, you can see three-year-olds up there in the shopping centre working on tablets.
I thought, this is such a marvellous opportunity here.
How lucky are we?
As soon as I have a problem, realising I'm gonna come over in a week's time, I write the problem down, so that when I get here, I have a little notebook full of problems that they can answer before they start any teaching.
The girls are learning how to handle people our age, because mostly they don't get an opportunity to do that.
And I don't feel overruled by what has yet to come up.
To anybody wondering whether this is a good thing to do or not, That you would say to them that'll be the best opportunity they're ever gonna have in their life, because this is the world we're moving into.
I'm just a bit sorry that I can't live quite a bit longer because I feel that by the time I leave this world I'll still have a lot to learn.
I'll have to come back (laughs).
St Mary's Anglican Girls' School older learner #1
My family gave me an iPad for my birthday, in their wisdom (laughs), so I thought I'd better learn to use this thing otherwise it will get left behind.
So you really haven't got an option, have you?
It's a whole new world out there (laughs).
When you haven't done it before, it is like a foreign language.
You feel very inadequate, you feel very nervous.
I thought, I'll never be able to cope with this.
It seemed to be right out of my league.
I thought, 'No, no, I can't. I can't do it'.
But then you go the next time and, you know, next week, and you think, 'Oh, I've remembered that. Yeah, that wasn't too bad'.
So then you lose that feeling of being so inadequate, and you just move along from there.
I've enjoyed it, and the girls are so lovely, because they'll go back over it again.
They don't mind repeating themselves for us.
It's just fabulous.
You can do as little or as much as you want to.
They've produced these books, and we can go through that if we haven't got anything ourselves that we need to ask them.
And being able to learn these things at our own pace, I think that's the operative thing, at our own pace.
We're able to come back and keep doing it, and just learning a bit more each time.
It's all about practice, and you've just gotta use that every day, really, doing something with it every day, and then it just gets so familiar.
You know, it is probably good for them to be able to do it, and I think it teaches them to relate to older people, which, you know, some of them probably haven't got grandparents or grandparents that live further away.
It's a wonderful service.
Even if I didn't want to do the iPad, I think I'd still like to come and chat to the girls (laughs), 'cause they're so lovely.
St Mary's Anglican Girls' School older learner #2
I'm a bit slow on the uptake when it comes to things, you know, my memory isn't what it used to be (laughs).
I have what my daughter calls a twitchy finger, which touches things a bit too soon.
I get impatient.
I lost all my email the other day (laughs).
I was trying to tidy it up when I tidied it up a bit too much, put it in the bin, and I didn't know how to get it out.
I was going to ring my daughter and get her to do it, and I thought, ' No, I'll only get told off' (laughs).
It's nice to talk to a younger generation 'cause you get a different view on things.
I think they're as interested to show off what they know (laughs), have a chance to teach somebody else instead of being taught themselves.
It does them good, doesn't it?
'Cause, I mean, they haven't all got grandmas, have they?
Gives 'em confidence.
If I was a bit slow, he'd go over things again.
Realised his potential for it was terrific, started opening new doors, you know?
All Saints' College older learner
Register and get started
When you register for Young Mentors, you will be provided with a comprehensive toolkit with promotional, training and facilitation materials to help you run the program.
Let eSafety know you are ready to start your program by emailing email@example.com. We will send you survey links for your specific program and provide you with a program feedback report on completion of the program.
Register your organisation and get access to the Young Mentors toolkit.
Find a partner
Use the template letter of introduction and program overview in the toolkit to help you connect and partner with another organisation.
Promote the program
Highlight the benefits of being part of the program to your potential participants using flyers, posters and newsletter articles provided in the toolkit.
Train the young mentors
Deliver training to the young mentors on how to mentor an older learner using the step-by-step training guide and slide pack provided. Have a discussion with your program partner to determine who is best placed to deliver this training.
Training covers the benefits of mentoring, the skills of a good mentor, different learning styles, safety aspects of the program and provides students with resources and handouts to help with their mentoring.
Supervise the mentoring sessions
Coordinate and supervise the mentoring sessions with your program partner. The young mentors work with an older learner to develop their digital skills for one hour per week over a six-week period.
The supervised sessions are designed to be fun, informal and tailored to cover topics that older people would like to learn. Older learners use their own devices, so the new skills they learn can be put into practice straight away.
How long will the program take?
The Program Delivery Timeline below provides some guidance on how long the program will take to deliver.
Young Mentors is a program developed by eSafety as part of Be Connected.
Be Connected is a joint Australian government initiative between the Department of Social Services, the eSafety Commissioner and Good Things Foundation to increase the confidence, skills and online safety of older Australians. Be Connected aims to empower everyone to use the internet and everyday technology to thrive in our digital world.
Last updated: 05/05/2023