Younger generation connects Tech Savvy Elders
“For me, if you have an education, you have a voice. If you don’t, you’re voiceless.”
Gamilaroi Elder Aunty Beryl is telling her story to camera.
But her message is for those who are doing the filming - the children of Alexandria Park Community School in New South Wales.
Aunty Beryl is taking part in Telstra’s new Tech Savvy Elders program – where primary and high school students are teaching Indigenous elders about technology. However, as Aunty shares her story, something more powerful is happening. The young people are learning firsthand about their local Indigenous community, culture and history.
“Education takes you where you want to be,” Aunty Beryl tells her young filmmakers. She moved to Sydney at 16 to become a teacher, and then took her education back to her community – she never forgot where she was from, she says. Her hope is that young people will carry on the traditions of her culture.
A few metres away, Aunty Sara Morgan is being interviewed by her grandsons as part of the Tech Savvy Elders program.
She shares all the tree properties she knows, and tells how when she was a child she would use plants for all sorts of purposes, from healing to finding water. Her fear, she tells the camera, is that children have lost this knowledge. But this is a chance for her to preserve it.
The launch of the Tech Savvy Elders program saw a vibrant magenta-orange, Telstra-branded, Tech Savvy Elders Bus embark on a 10-day journey along the New South Wales coastline during NSW Seniors Week.
The bus travelled 2503km, visiting 10 schools in five locations, and 60 students trained 35 elders. The figure that can’t be quantified, though, is the connection that developed between elders and students, and the intergenerational, intercultural learning that took place.
As part of the program, primary pupils at each location took visiting elders through a tech tutorial using a tablet. Students then turned from teachers to journalists, interviewing each elder for an online video.
These videos, after being reviewed by Elders in the community, will be uploaded on the MGoals website, which shares and celebrates local history, cultural information and programs.
Tech Savvy Elders was run in partnership by Telstra’s Chief Sustainability Office, the New South Wales Government, MGoals and the New South Wales Aboriginal Education Consultative Group.
The training is part of Telstra’s Tech Savvy Senior Program, which reached about 117,000 people last financial year and operates in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
Anna Erbrederis is a Telstra Senior Communications Advisor.