18 August 2015
University of the Sunshine Coast researchers and campus-based organisation iDcare today (Tuesday 18 August) launched an innovative program that will link high school students with aged care residents in an effort to reduce online identity theft.
The program has received $17,088 in funding from the IRT Foundation, which was launched in 2014 by IRT Group – one of Australia's largest seniors' lifestyle and care service providers – to help make communities more age-friendly.
It is the latest project for USC Senior Research Fellow Dr David Lacey, a leading expert in identity security and financial crime and the founder of iDcare, a national support centre for victims of identity crime.
Dr Lacey and researchers from USC’s Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems are designing and building an online “Intergenerational Socialisation Tool” that aims to break down age barriers while promoting safer use of technology.
The tool will be tested with local schools and aged care facilities and analysed by USC before expected implementation early next year.
“We want generations to connect,” Dr Lacey said. “We don’t want some members of our community feeling isolated and left behind by technology. This pilot program is planned to expand to other states.”
IRT Group Chief Executive Nieves Murray said: “This is an important project given that iDcare figures suggest one-third of identity theft and misuse cases involve older people.”
Dr Lacey said the tool would promote safe online participation through peer-based learning.
“We’re aiming to improve the ability of both younger and older people to navigate the internet safely,” he said. “Although current school students have grown up with the internet, they can also be blasé about security, so we expect benefits for all age groups.”
iDcare grants officer Christine Jackson said many callers to the centre were seniors who had fallen victim to online or telephone scams.
“This project is highly innovative and will deliver an example of where intergenerational activities provide valued outcomes across the community,” she said.
— Terry Walsh