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Netsafe launches online safety programme for seniors in New Zealand
Thu, 15th Feb 2024

Netsafe, an independent charitable organisation that supports safe and positive online experiences, has today launched a nationwide programme, Get Set Up for Safety, targeting senior citizens in New Zealand. The aim is to arm the elder population with much-needed skills and know-how to protect themselves from online threats such as financial fraud and shopping scams.

Get Set Up for Safety was initially announced a year ago but is now live and fully accessible. The programme, developed in partnership with Chorus, aims to equip senior citizens with the crucial abilities they need to navigate the internet safely. It presents practical advice on a range of topics from identifying financial scams to safer practices when online shopping and socialising.

The 2023 Annual Population Survey conducted by Netsafe revealed that roughly half (47%) of Kiwis over 70 are interested in learning more about online safety and protection against scams. Additionally, a similar number (49%) require assistance at least occasionally with digital devices. These statistics highlight the importance of comprehensible and accessible online safety programmes for the older population.

Senior sector organisations including Digital Seniors, Age Concern, and the 20/20 Trust were involved in the consultation during the development of Get Set Up for Safety. These organisations supported the need for better resources on these issues. The resources include free guides, videos and other handy materials offering advice on a broad range of crucial subjects. Tools also address how to securely set up devices, the proper use of social media settings, and more.

Sean Lyons, the Chief Online Safety Officer at Netsafe, states, "Get Set Up for Safety is designed to help seniors feel more comfortable and knowledgeable when they are online and to demystify the digital world for those who aren't yet confident in the digital space, often due to safety and security concerns.”

The toolkit introduced by the programme includes an easy-to-remember acronym to help people recognise the red flags, SCAMS = Surprise, Control, Access, Money, Stop.

The programme has been lauded by Hannah Taylor, Chorus Head of Sustainability, who says, “This partnership has been driven out of a desire to empower people and keep them safe online. In an age where scams are becoming hugely problematic and digital skills are a basic life necessity, it's clear these resources are much needed.”

With over one million New Zealanders expected to enter the '65 and over' demographic by 2028 and essential services increasingly switching to online platforms, Get Set Up for Safety fills an important resource gap for public-facing organisations such as public libraries, community groups, and charities, whom older adults often turn to for assistance with digital matters.

The Get Set Up for Safety resources will be freely available for people to access, download, or print out from the Netsafe website. They will also be available at public libraries, Citizens Advice Bureaus, Chorus community events, Digital Seniors hubs, and Age Concern regional offices, among other locations.