Seniors demand IT be 'fit for purpose'

Govt digital applications are creating headaches for senior users

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Govt digital applications 'full of rabbit holes'


"The problem is not old people, the problem is the software."

Even Premier Mark McGowan admitted he had to get help from his teenage son to set up the ServiceWA application, and for Norman Hodgkinson, enough is enough.

His view is that the app - including proof of vaccination, check in at venues and access to G2G travel passes - has brought the crisis in digital communication with governments to a head.

"The government is supposed to be providing a service that is easy to use, not full of traps and rabbit holes," said Norman, pictured.

Now the Mandurah branch of the Association of Independent Retirees, which Norman is part of, is initiating a drive to put pressure on governments to review their digital applications to make them "fit for purpose".

Norman said the initiative, passed at a recent committee meeting, would also be put to the national committee for consideration.

"The digital programs used by governments to communicate with individuals cause extreme stress and anxiety to the people they are paid to serve," he said.

"No doubt older people give up trying to find their way through the puzzle of the appropriate application and hand over power of attorney, even though they are capable of making financial decisions.

"It is suggested that people can ask their children or grandchildren for help. This is embarrassing for many and others do not have this source of help.

"It is also suggested that people can go to the local library.

"These solutions are not universally applicable. In good government, they would not be necessary.

"My attitude is they are providing a service. You can't just say it's only old people who don't know what to do and they have got to make the best of it.

"My complaint is not from someone who has not used a computer. I spend about an hour a day on it."

Norman said government should employ quality checkers to ensure the software the public is expected to use is fit for purpose.

This meant software would be intuitive, reliable, have easy-to-follow instructions, allow plenty of time between each step and move progressively so the failure of one step did not mean starting all over again.

As an individual, Norman has written to Senator Linda Reynolds about the issue. His concerns were passed on to the federal government's digital transformation agency for a response.

In reply, it said it works closely with Services Australia and other government agencies to develop simple, user-friendly and efficient services for all.

"In recognition that digital services may not be suitable for everyone, Services Australia provides shopfronts to provide assistance, and dedicated phone lines for people requiring additional assistance."