September 3, 2015

150903 Radio National 621AM Natasha Mitchell Digital Literacy

Radio National 621AM Natasha Mitchell Digital Literacy

Date: Thursday 3 September 2015 9:15am
Organisation: Radio National Life Matters Program
Live Radio Interview With: Natasha Mitchell @natashamitchell
Live Guest: Jon Lawrence, Executive Officer of Electronic Frontiers Australia
Presenter: Natasha Mitchell
Producer: Isabelle Summerson
Topic: “IT Incompetence in the Workplace”
Details Online:
Full Podcast on the ABC Website:

Natasha Mitchell interviewed Sue Ellson Teacher of Introduction to Personal Computers and the Internet at the Centre for Adult Education (CAE) in Melbourne. 

Justice Dyson Heydon’s revelation this week of his total lack of IT skills prompted howls of ridicule for the royal commissioner, who is presiding over the investigation into trade union corruption.

Ironically, since much of the mockery was confined to social or online media, it’s unlikely that Justice Heydon will see any of it first hand, unless his personal assistant prints it all out for him, which is how he’s managed so far to function without computer literacy.

We suspect he’s probably not alone amongst certain generations, in certain professions.

But in the 21st Century can you really get by without these skills, especially in positions of public accountability?


Natasha Mitchell: Sue in Melbourne – you teach an intro to personal computers in Adult Ed?

Sue Ellson: I do, I’m a teacher at the Centre for Adult Education in Melbourne and I’m running a class at the moment and I’ve got everybody in the class from a 36 year old who’s spent her time in hospitality for many years through to a 79 year old.

Also, a lady who came from India four month ago – her husband died two months later and of course, you know, she can’t use the internet. She’s completely isolated and here in Australia I think it’s the language you have to learn. It’s not just English, you have to be able to use a computer as well.

NM: Yes indeed. So incredible diversity of students?

SE: There is and it’s really surprising, you know. Another one is a pharmacist who has worked her whole life and used a computer program specifically for her pharmacy skill, but doesn’t know the basics.

I ran the first class of a four week program this week and I talk about things like, you know, what is an internet connection, what’s inside the box, this is a screen, it’s also called a display and a monitor and just a basic concept of what a computer is.

Then at the end of the day I ask them, well you know, “What was really helpful to you today?” “Oh the do’s and dont’s”, like don’t have a drink near your laptop because if it spills it fries the entire computer.

NM: The basics

SE: You know, they don’t understand that if you’re on WiFi they can be hacked and you know, just really, really simple things that anybody who’s digitally competent understands, but anybody who hasn’t had that basic background doesn’t have any idea.

And I remember when I was first introduced to computers in 1987, they stuck me in front of one and said “Off you go Sue” and I said “Well I don’t even know how to turn the darn thing on”, you know, and after five complaints they showed me and I have been self taught ever since.

The fact that I’m 50 and explaining it to them helps, you know, because what they also find is they ask their children or grandchildren or friends and they go too fast, but for the 36 year old, all her friends laugh at her.

NM: Yeah, it can be quite demeaning can’t it? People can be quite demeaning about this and I think that’s a tragedy.

SE: It is a tragedy and it’s very frightening for them, because they’re too scared to use a computer because they think they’re going to lose files and they’re very anxious even about admitting that they don’t know how to do it. So it’s a bit like the campaign for, you know, ‘Read and Write’ and that sort of thing and there’s a whole section of the community that’s disadvantaged.

NM: Alright Sue, great to hear about your coal face experiences in a computer literacy classroom with adults.


Other Details:

Next Introduction to Personal Computers and the Internet Course at the CAE on 14 October 2015

Digital literacy training before NBN is complete 12/04/12

Radio National 621AM Natasha Mitchell Digital Literacy Sue Ellson



Sue Ellson has experience working with:

  • Universities – Monash University, University of Adelaide, Swinburne University, RMIT University
  • Corporates – Ford Motor Company, General Motors Holden, Alcoa, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
  • Associations – Australian Human Resources Institute, Career Development Association of Australia, Australian Institute of Management, Educate Plus, AFL Coaches and AFL Players Associations
  • Outplacement Firms – Macfarlan Lane, EPR International, NetExpat, Dakin Mayers, Resources Global Professionals
  • Conferences – Reinvent Your Career, HR in Focus, Educate Plus Biennial International Conference, Career Development Association of Australia National Conference
  • Small Businesses – Accounting, Real Estate, Research Services, Counselling, Hypnotherapy, Management Consulting, Recruitment

More details online at

Sue also has written many articles – available at

Sue Ellson welcomes enquiries about:

  • individual LinkedIn consultations
  • workshops, training or presentations on the topic of LinkedIn to small or large groups (in Melbourne, interstate or overseas)
  • requests for written reviews of LinkedIn profiles
  • consultancy services related to LinkedIn, social media, marketing, careers, business etc

sueellson @ or +61 402 243 271 or Skype by appointment (sueellson)

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