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Chris Ewan: volunteer at Longbeach PLACE Learn Local organisationSeniors IT program is a huge benefit to people's lives

For the past 13 years, Chris Ewin has been helping bring seniors into the digital world with innovative computer classes in Melbourne’s south.

Chris, who is studying for his PhD in computer science at Melbourne University, first started volunteering at Longbeach PLACE, a Learn Local organisation in Chelsea, when he was 15.

Alongside another volunteer, Rojer Liberman, he was the driving force behind the Chelsea PC Support Group, a group which still runs monthly presentations to help seniors use IT.

“When we started, there were ten to 12 people at a meeting,” explains Chris, 28. “Now we get 50. We have 150 on our membership list.”

Over the years, Chris has taught a variety of IT courses at Longbeach, including courses specifically for seniors.

“Seniors are often not suited to the courses already on offer,” explains Chris, who adds that traditional classes often cover a number of topics with a level of detail that is off putting for older people. With a grant from the Victorian government, and assistance from colleagues and family members Carrie and Cheryl Ewin, he set up a Seniors IT program at Longbeach.

“The program is making a huge benefit to people’s lives,” says Chris. “It’s really rewarding.”

Recently Chris developed two websites specifically to help seniors practise online banking and shopping.

“There’s a lot of fear among older people about using money online,” says Chris. “A lot of older people want to practise using IT and get comfy using it in a secure environment. These websites allow them to do that.”

Trish Mumme, who works at Longbeach PLACE, describes Chris as a “great asset”. “He’s worked mainly with the elderly. He’s been very patient and relates to them.”