Broken Hill

The red dirt and the rich history of the famous mining town of Broken Hill played host to our next stop on the IDCARE outreach trip, but we weren’t alone! Around 7,000 caravans descended on the small town of Silverton just northwest of Broken Hill to hear the likes of Paul Kelly and John Williamson entertain the crowd at the Mundi Mundi Bash. Avoiding the hoards as best we could, we had some valuable community engagements - with much of the talk of the town relating to the recent cold snap bringing out the winter wardrobe a tad early.

At the Con Crowley retirement home, residents were very keen to share their scam knowledge. Some had been warned when purchasing gift cards at their local shopping centre to ensure they were not being scammed and that the gift card was indeed for its intended use, showing good levels of scam awareness on the part of the shop attendant. Many had reported scam calls from fake Ebay or Amazon call centres as well as the all too common scam text messages we are all bombarded with. Fortunately for many they were not heavily active online, however during a discussion on data breaches and using the website it was evident some residents may have had their accounts caught up in historical breaches. This led to a good discussion over passwords management.

As ANZAC day approached, the Broken Hill Lions were good enough to host IDCARE for a warm meal and a game of Two Up. In fact, Broken Hill is the only place you can play Two Up every day of the year (other than ANZAC day where it is legal across Australia). It is so entrenched in the history of the town that in 1992 the NSW government passed a law to allow it. A vigorous discussion was had around the growing threat scammers present and by sharing our specially curated Broken Hill data from our previous IDCARE clients, it was easy to present relatable examples of what has been happening locally. In Broken Hill, as is the case nationally, almost 25% of victims of cybercrimes did not know how their credentials were compromised. Only discovering that their personal information had been misused after the damage had already been done - typically when a loan or other line of credit, or a bank account had been opened in their name.

A fascinating interview was held with Janet Sidall who runs a computer course for seniors through the Broken Hill Community Centre. Her role is vital for so many older residents who haven’t had the experience of growing up with computers, but in a world where access to services like MyGov and Service NSW is vital, she is able to help navigate the tricky online environment for her students. Throughout her course she touches on scam awareness and online security. She had good awareness of scams and has been able to alert her residents to the growing risk, but now more than ever armed with the information and services available from IDCARE.

A final fascinating insight on the difficulties of cyber resilience in the bush came from Broken Hill second generation retired miner Colin Garden. His extraordinary story ended with him deliberately splitting his new iPhone in half. This came about through his belief his phone was hacked with strange things happening with enough regularity that he drove all the way to Adelaide – more than 6 hours –so he could get some human help. He was sick of phone calls leading nowhere, and despite his long drive south, he still found no joy and that led him to destroy his phone!