Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Older Australians online and on track

Around 160,000 older Australians have been staying connected to family and friends through free access to the internet under the Australian Government’s Broadband for Seniors initiative, new figures released today show.

The 2011 Annual Report of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, tabled today, also shows that more than 40,000 seniors have travelled on concessional fares funded under the Government’s agreement with Great Southern Rail over the past 12 months.

The Australian Government understands the importance of helping older Australians to stay in touch with family and friends.

There are around 2,000 Broadband for Seniors kiosks across Australia, which have been providing seniors with free access to broadband internet and training in basic computing since the initiative was launched in September 2009.

More than a third of the seniors who accessed the internet at a Broadband for Seniors kiosk had never used a computer before, and almost half had never used the internet.

Through this initiative, thousands of seniors have gained the confidence and support to get online.

The $15 million Broadband for Seniors initiative has been delivered in partnership with a consortium led by NEC Australia, with support from Adult Learning Australia, Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association and U3A Online.

The Government is also supporting seniors to get out and about with its funding of $27 million over the last four years to fund concessions for seniors and pensioners on Great Southern Rail services.

Under the agreement, transport concessions for Seniors Card holders were extended across Australia making around 3.2 million seniors eligible for the concessions, including pensioners, certain veterans, holders of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and State Seniors Card holders.

Great Southern Rail operates Australia’s iconic rail services including the Indian Pacific (Sydney to Perth), the Ghan (Adelaide to Alice Springs) and the Overland (Melbourne to Adelaide).

These concession arrangements save Pension Concession Card and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders up to $651 for travel on the Indian Pacific, $652 on the Ghan and $52 on the Adelaide to Melbourne Overland.

In 2010-11more than 40,000 concessional fare passengers have used the service, including for more than 60,000 rail journeys to Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Darwin.