A newsletter with byte!

July 1, 2020

An activity designed to help clients of CatholicCare’s Disability Futures program gain proficiency in computer and organisational skills has evolved into the development of an e-newsletter, which is researched, written, compiled and designed by a growing team of enthusiastic newshounds. 

Julian, the Area Coordinator of CatholicCare’s Disability Futures program, says the Bits & Bytes newsletter grew from small beginnings and is now a popular and important part of life at the Waitara Disability Futures hub. 

“It was really killing two birds with one stone,” Julian says. “We need to communicate with families, and clients wanted to work on improving their computer skills.” 

It all started in early 2019 when Mark, a long-term client of CatholicCare, requested support to develop basic computer skills. Soon after, weekly typing practice became the status quo for Mark, while using his own computer and internet dongle, of which he was very proud. 

By the end of 2019 it was evident that Mark had achieved some important milestones in his skills, and so, the idea of using those skills for the creation of a basic newsletter was born. At the end of the year, the first of Mark’s two page newsletters was created and published. 

In 2020, it was renamed Bits & Bytes and was more widely disseminated to clients, families and staff. 

“We got really good feedback from families and CatholicCare staff,” Julian says. “It was also a really important point of information during the 2020 lockdown.” 

At this point, Julian could see the growing potential of the newsletter as a reporting piece of work. 

“A program like this was envisaged back in 2015, under the name ‘Reporter Quarters’ but as events unfolded, and there was a restructure in the Disability Futures Team, it never quite came to fruition,” he says. 

Since the creation of Bits & Bytes, the editorial team has grown to include Mark, along with fellow Disability Futures clients David, Barry and Natalie. They have worked with Disability Futures workers Mason, Sara-Jane and more recently Elena who is now the supervising support to the project.  

David, who brought a lot of value to the project due to his experience in working in an office based environment says he loves being on the Bits & Bytes team. 

I get to type everything up on the computer, then we can work on the internet and send the photos to Julian and copy and paste the stories.

“It’s interesting because you get to ask people questions about what they do in their spare time and what their favourite sporting team is and that kind of thing. Everyone loves it and people read it all. It’s good.” 

Natalie came on board as the fourth editor of the Bits & Bytes team in May 2021 after joining CatholicCare’s Boonah art studio as a developing artist. She is now the main reporter of the new Boonah column in the newsletter. 

“It’s fun,” she says. “You get to interview people and take photos. I like taking photos. I just enjoy doing it because you meet a lot of people and you work with friends.” 

Unfortunately, due to COVID, the Bits & Bytes team have been working on their own with their support worker, but their interactions in producing the newsletter still keeps them in touch. 

“The group setting and the friendships they’ve made has helped each of the team members understand the dynamics of working as a team,” Julian says.  

The newsletter has been great for everyone in terms of mental health. One of the things we’ve had to do in disability services is balance the risk of COVID with the risk of people developing real mental health issues. So, Bits & Bytes has been really positive in that regard.

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