The world of computers and the internet can be a confronting place for some, but for those battling addiction, mental illness and homelessness, “logging on” can be an especially foreign concept.
Residents of Batemans Bay men’s shelter, Hope House, are now becoming computer wizards, thanks to new equipment and training through South Coast Careers College.
Through NSW government-funded programs, the men are getting trained up in digital information and media technology, business and traffic control, opening doors to employment and a new life.
“Before I started the course, computer-wise, my knowledge was very basic,” said Hope House night supervisor Steve Taylor.
“I’d like to be able to apply for jobs on my own bat and show that I can control a computer.
“You can teach an old dog new tricks.”
South Coast Careers College’s, Mel Lane, said getting the men qualified was important in their transition from Hope House into mainstream society.
“Now they’ve got the skills to find the jobs they wanted,” Mrs Lane said.
“A lot of the men are a bit older and didn’t know how to access websites or send emails. Now they can apply for jobs online because they know how to find them and send through applications.
“There’s not such a gap between them and the rest of the community.”
Getting the men of Hope House logged on and trained up had personal benefits for the men, said Julie Griffiths, of the college.
“It gives them a bit of confidence and self-esteem if they're learning something and building new friendships,” Ms Griffiths said.
“The discipline of sitting in a classroom and listening, it’s a complete lifestyle change, but they want to make the change,” Ms Lane said.
Hope House manager, Shirley Diskon, said having extra computers available at the shelter gave the men more opportunities to plan for their futures.
“It will be a lot better with the extra computers, so now they can come in and not disturb us and have access to look for jobs and accommodation, type up letters and do their resumes,” Mrs Diskon said.
After recently completing a course in traffic control, Mr Taylor hoped to get employment in the transport industry and apply for his taxi licence.
“Everyone’s been positive and jumped at the opportunity to get these advances in their knowledge,” Mr Taylor said.
“It’s a big confidence boost for a lot of the fellas here; a lot of the time they don’t get given opportunities like this.”