Realising online potential at the Melaleuca Refugee Centre – Go Digi in Darwin

The Melaleuca Refugee Centre, in Darwin, provides an environment for resettlement and healing for refugees and their families. It is a welcoming space, where a range of services can be accessed including counselling, early settlement support, youth programs - not to mention a cup of tea and a friendly chat in the courtyard.

For many refugees and their family digital technology provides a lifeline to friends and family back in their homeland, as well as the ability to keep in touch with news, events and culture.

Being able to access and use digital technology safely and confidently is also vital for resettlement in Australia. Just think how much easier the internet makes it to navigate public transport, gain access to government services, health and education opportunities, as well as find employment. All challenges that many refugees and their families face when resettling.

Despite the enormous benefits for refugees and their families that digital literacy can bring, the internet also poses new risks.

To help address this issue within the community, a workshop was held as part of Go Digi’s National Year of Digital Inclusion and Adult Learner’s Week which supported refugees and their families to:  

  • Learn more about the benefits of digital technology. 
  • Become more familiar with social media.
  • Stay safe online, including how to create more secure passwords.
  • Share digital skills with others.

The audience for this large workshop was diverse in both ages (teenagers through to older adults), as well as cultural background (there were four cultural workers catering for different languages spoken in the room).

There was also a broad spectrum of digital literacy of participants which meant that a flexible approach was required in the workshop format.

Four tips for running a successful digital skills workshop

Key to the success of the workshop were:

1. Allowing time for participants to share their stories and experiences using digital technology.

The workshop was delivered over four hours, allowing ample time for presentations, practical activities and discussion.

One of the benefits of the diversity of ages and digital ability in the room was that this led to some great discussions. More experienced users of digital technology shared their favourite websites and tips for online safety with less experienced users – which helped enrich the workshop.

Allowing enough time also meant that participants had time to come up in the breaks and ask questions, such as some younger participants who were keen to change their Facebook passwords after realising they weren’t very secure!

Image: Participants shared stories and experiences

2. Having people who undersand the language and cultural needs of the groups as well as the workshop content

The Melaleuca Refugee Centre engaged four cultural workers holding a ‘pre-workshop’ prior to the day to familiarise the cultural workers with the concepts to be presented.

This meant that not only did we have translators, but four extra facilitators. Here’s a photo of one of the cultural workers, Arun who even prepared large posters prior to the workshop:

Arun works in information technology, and said that he also finds he needs to work hard to keep his own digital skills up-to-date and relevant to industry needs.

3. Putting networks and partnerships into action

The workshop is a great example of the importance of different organisations working together, bringing their unique set of skills and strengths to the table.

The opportunity to hold this workshop was identified by the NT Industry Skills Advisory Council after one of their staff attended a planning workshop held by the Go Digi team for the Darwin Pop Up Festival.

The Go Digi team was put in touch with the Melaleuca Refugee Centre. Discovering that the dates also aligned with the Adult Learner’s Week, the Melaleuca Refugee Centre were successful in gaining additional funding for the event which meant that transportation, childcare, food and cultural workers could be provided.

Go Digi, a partnership between Infoxchange and Australia Post, facilitated and provided learning content for the event, which was a part of the Go Digi Darwin Pop Up Festival.

4. Building community, building digital skills

The final successful activity of the workshop was for participants who were confident online, to share how they could help other people in their lives to learn digital skills. It was fantastic that nearly all participants did this activity – with many keen to share what they had learnt in the workshop with their friends and family.

After sharing ideas of how to help others learn digital skills, we then shared a delicious community lunch. This was a great way to finish a morning of digital learning.