Telstra in the Community
i. CEO foreword
Telstra has a proud tradition of enabling Australians to communicate with each other and participating in local communities all around the country.
Telstra touches nearly every Australian in some way - be they customers, shareholders or employees. We are active in virtually every local community around the nation. This is about who Telstra is as a company and demonstrates the commitment we have to this nation.
We invest in communities with our networks, products and services as well as the time and skills of our people. We help to connect the disconnected and we work to build and strengthen local economies. We also support our own people in the community initiatives that matter most to them.
We are proud of Telstra's community activities, some of which are highlighted in this report, and of the important work we do in helping to contribute to the wellbeing of all Australians.
Chief Executive Officer
ii. Connecting the disconnected
Telstra invests in services and programs that connect people with their families, friends and communities, and help to overcome barriers of distance and disadvantage through the use of information and communication technologies.
Access for Everyone made possible
“Staying in touch goes to the very core of our existence. Irrespective of your income or financial position, you should be able to stay in touch with your family, friends and community.”
Chris Dodds, Australian Council of Social Service, Chairman of the Low Income Measures Assessment Committee
Most people take their access to modern, affordable communications services for granted. However, there are many who struggle to afford the basics and in Australia there are over 1.6 million households with a very low disposable income who are at risk of isolation. Through our Access for Everyone programs, Telstra provides a comprehensive package of products and services to assist people on a low income or in financial hardship to stay in touch. “The programs are based on the belief that a sense of connectedness is fundamentally important to individual, family and community wellbeing for all Australians. This includes older people, job-
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seekers, Indigenous communities, as well as people with disability,” said Robert Morsillo, Telstra
Group Manager Consumer Affairs.
Access for Everyone programs include lower-cost telephone services, discounts for eligible pensioners, emergency relief options such as assistance paying Telstra bills and provision of phone cards, as well as pre-paid mobile handsets and starter kits for people who are homeless. The success of the programs depends largely on our partnerships with around 4,000 community agencies across Australia, who make use of the services provided by Telstra for their clients. “The real benefit is gained through the use of telecommunications for social, personal and family wellbeing,” said Sue McAleer, Access For Everyone Project Manager.
Did you know?
In 2008/09, we provided assistance to more than one million low-income customers to connect or maintain their communication services. The total benefit provided exceeded $180 million. Since 2002, we have provided over $1 billion in concessions and benefits.
For more information visit www.telstra.com.au/accessforeveryone.
Saluting Telstra’s unsung heroes
"A reliable telecommunications network is paramount in any disaster relief effort, as it not only provides a vital link for emergency service organisations but also keeps family and friends connected during the most trying of times.
“I had the privilege of seeing our Telstra team in action as they worked tirelessly to re-connect
services in some of Victoria's worst affected bushfire regions. While nothing can compensate for the terrible loss that occurred across the state, I am extremely proud of Telstra's immediate and cohesive response to the fires and especially the tireless work of our people in the field, who to me, are amongst some of the true, unsung heroes."
Paul Crisp, Telstra Corporate Affairs Manager VIC/TAS
Broadcasting emergency alerts
Peter Cornish is a Telstra Network Manager and chairman of Yarra Valley FM 99.1, a community radio station and the local emergency services broadcaster. Peter describes how he used Telstra's various networks to deliver emergency broadcasts and alerts.
“On Saturday 7 February, the phone did not stop ringing with people throughout the bushfire affected areas asking for information and advice. Our BigPond Internet streaming connection was saturated with about 10 times the number of online listeners than usual.
“One of our initial issues was getting timely messages from the Country Fire Authority (CFA) and the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE). To speed things up, we set-up a special BigPond email address hooked into my Next G? mobile phone and registered the email address
with the various CFA and DSE Incident Control Centres. Each time they sent out an alert, it came up as a text email message on my mobile phone, which I then broadcast on the radio.
“Yarra Valley FM kept our community very well informed with both fire advice and emergency
assistance, and we wouldn't have been able to do it nearly as well without Telstra's networks.”
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In the line of fire
Telstra supports our people who volunteer their time with emergency service organisations. In times of disaster, Telstra offers special leave for employees to protect their family and property and, where possible, to assist with the relief efforts.
Andrew Wright, a Telstra veteran of 23 years and a CFA volunteer for 12 years, was awarded a Chief Officer's Commendation by the CFA for his role in leading the Wonga Park volunteer fire brigade to rescue the North Warrandyte brigade which was stranded between St Andrews and Kinglake on Black Saturday.
Michael Pulford from Telstra's Network Construction team and a CFA volunteer for 10 years, cheated death by huddling in his CFA truck with two others as a firestorm swept over them near Upwey. "It is one of those things where a lot of things are happening in a short period of time and you just kick into automatic pilot, your training then takes you into survival mode," he said.
Mick Flower, doing double-duty during the bushfires as a Telstra Communications Technician and a CFA volunteer, fought the devastating fires in the Gippsland region and in Wilsons Promontory. Describing the fires he reflected, “Sobering is the only word I can think of. Pictures on television
and in the paper only give an idea of the devastation the fires have caused. Indiscriminately, houses have been destroyed, while neighbours may have been untouched.”
The recovery begins
Bob Beresford, Southern Region Service Delivery Director, Telstra Operations, and Grant Wilshire, ?Telstra Country Wide Executive Director Southern Region, were instrumental in driving Telstra‟s response and recovery efforts after Black Saturday. They received the Telstra CEO Community Award for leading our team to reconnect the affected communities.
“When I drove into the bushfire area I saw the terrible destruction first hand. Amongst it all were our Service Delivery people, making sure our exchanges and mobile sites kept running, our ?technicians repairing our networks, and the Telstra Country Wide team, working one on one with
customers who have lost everything. They were some of the very first, along with emergency services, to help out in the early hours and days after the fires,” Bob said.
“What mattered during this critical period was that all parts of Telstra came together without
prompting - many aspects, many business units and many staff,” added Grant.
Laurence Webb, Telstra General Manager Network Enterprise Services, describes when he ?accompanied Pat O'Beirne, Telstra Country Wide General Manager Melbourne, to Strathewen six
days after Black Saturday.
“Strathewen was ground zero – not a house stood in the town centre; the school was a wreck, and molten metal lay in pools next to burned out cars. Everyone we met had lost friends and most had lost family.
“The hum of a generator came from the top of the hill; a Telstra Cell on Wheels (COW), a mobile
base station, shipped in from Tasmania. Phill Sporton, Executive Director Service Delivery, was there to thank the crew who powered it up. Software was loaded, and Strathewen received its first mobile coverage. Pat handed out his last Telstra mobile phone as one more dazed survivor walked by. A local told us he had lost his father, his brother and his home, and his sister was in intensive care. Phill followed him and gave him his own phone.”
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Did you know?
; One hundred and seventy three lives and thousands of Victorian properties were lost in the
Black Saturday bushfires.
; Telstra‟s mobile and fixed networks were damaged and Telstra technicians were quickly
deployed to repair damaged infrastructure, re-connect households and establish additional
mobile coverage in remote areas using transportable Cells on Wheels.
; Telstra‟s team in the 000 Call Centre worked tirelessly to manage over 31,000 calls
received on Saturday 7 February.
?; Thirty five Telstra Country Wide employees were deployed to emergency relief centres
established across Victoria to help customers affected by the fires.
; Telstra distributed more than 1,000 mobile handsets free of charge and set up more than a
dozen free internet kiosks at community centres across the state.
; Telstra waived almost 25,000 bills for thousands of customers in fire affected areas and
supported communities by converting 60 payphones so they provided free local and STD
; Telstra and our people contributed more than $1.5 million to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal,
while employees volunteered to work in Telstra call centres that were used to coordinate
public pledges of support.
; Since the fires, Telstra has invested over $15 million to repair and upgrade its networks in
affected areas, including establishing four new exchanges in Marysville, Narbethong,
Kinglake and Kinglake West, and to build new mobile network base stations to provide
permanent and improved mobile coverage to areas such as Strathewen, St Andrews and
; As a further response to disasters, Telstra developed new innovative technologies, such as
the Mobile Exchange on Wheels (MEOW) and the Telstra Emergency Communications Kits
(TECK), 300 of which have already been deployed to emergency service organisations.
500,000+ good reasons for hearing aid compatible phones
For 20 years, Telstra has been engaging the community in a consumer consultation program which has led to many improvements and innovations in our products and services.
These include making mobile handsets more accessible to the more than 500,000 Australians with hearing aids. While mobile handsets on the Telstra Next G? mobile network do not generally
cause interference with hearing aids, members of the Deafness Forum and Better Hearing Australia, both represented on the Telstra Disability Forum, told us they wanted better hearing aid compatibility in our mobile phones.
And we listened. The specifications for the EasyTouch Discovery 1 and 2 mobile phones, launched in late 2008 and 2009 respectively, included an Australian-first requirement for an excellent rating (based on a US rating system) for hearing aid compatibility in both microphone and telecoil settings, which was to be laboratory tested and verified.
To ensure the end user experience was consistent with the lab test findings, we tested the prototypes with people with hearing aids at the 2009 Better Hearing Australia Annual Conference. The results confirmed the lab test findings and all participants who tested the EasyTouch
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Discovery 2 said they would recommend the handset to other people with hearing aids. Their feedback included comments like:
“The first mobile I can use!”
“As clear and useable as any fixed line phone. Perhaps better!”
“Very surprising result. Clear, no buzzing, noise or interference.”
“The Telstra Easy Touch Discovery mobile phone not only includes many useful features for people to use in a simple manner including large print numbers, but one main and important feature is that this phone is particularly useful for people with hearing aids,” said Liz Evans,
President of Cochlear Implant Club and Advisory Association (CICADA) Queensland, former board member of Deafness Forum, and a long time enthusiastic advocate for people with hearing impairment.
Telstra Manager Disability Services, Bert Ciavarra, said that Australians with hearing impairment need mobile phones that are interference free. "We've always promised the Next G? network
would be better than the previous mobile networks – with less interference and greater coverage –
and this commitment extends to the specific needs of the people in our community with hearing impairment," he said.
Did you know?
In 1996 we formalised our commitment to enhancing telecommunications for people with disability by becoming one of the first major Australian corporations to lodge a Disability Action Plan with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. In 2010, following an independent review of performance against actions in our Fourth Disability Action Plan 2007-09, we will be preparing our Fifth Disability Action Plan 2010-2012.
For more information visit www.telstra.com.au/disability.
Sadly, Better Hearing Australia National President and Telstra Disability Forum member Alan Keir
passed away on 20 August 2009, after a long battle with cancer. “Alan worked tirelessly and
effectively to improve the lives of people with hearing impairment and will be remembered as a knowledgeable, passionate and compassionate advocate,” said Bert Ciavarra, a long time
collaborator and friend. Telstra is grateful for the opportunity to have worked with Alan over a long period to help drive change and improve our products and services for Australians with hearing impairment.
Telstra Connected Seniors
Telstra Connected Seniors? is a tailored program created to help older Australians learn how to make the most of new technology. It supports seniors‟ community groups with grants ranging from
$5,000 to $50,000 to run educational workshops on using mobile phones and the internet in a fun, friendly peer environment. Here is how the program is making a difference to older people across Australia.
Joining the techno revolution
Country Women‟s Association (CWA) members will be able to SMS with the best of the best of the youth across the region thanks to a program of learning sessions. With grants from Telstra, the CWA will be teaching seniors across the district all about their mobile phones and keeping them up to date with the technology.
Murrami CWA member Libby Bailey has taken on the task of teacher for the program. "Telstra gave CWA a grant to train seniors in the use of mobile phones, to learn more about them and keep
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apace with the technology of modern communications," Mrs Bailey said. "We are also doing the internet and emails to inform people of what uses they have."
Mrs Bailey started with a session at her home branch, Murrami, has done Barellan and two at Yanco, with Hanwood, Griffith to come followed by session throughout the Murrumbidgee Lachlan Group, including Hillston and Goolgowi.
Telstra has provided resources and Mrs Bailey will aim to complete 15 to 20 sessions by the end of April. She said most seniors have mobile phones and just need someone to show them the "ins and outs" of the technology. "What I'm really pleased about is doing pre-emptive text when SMSing and I know so many younger people who don't do it," Mrs Bailey said.
"We are taking and sending photos and generally getting the most out of the technology. I try and group people up so they can send each other messages."
Courtesy of The Irrigator, Leeton NSW, 31/03/09
Workshops help make seniors text savvy
Territory seniors now have the chance to keep up to date with the latest mobile communications technology. Workshops, conducted by the NT Council on the Ageing in collaboration with Telstra's Connected Seniors program, will teach seniors how to send text messages with their mobile phones, save contacts and make mobile calls.
"At the end of the workshops, seniors will be able to impress their grandchildren by being able to send and receive text messages, personalise their phone and take photos and videos," Denise McGrath from the Council on the Ageing said yesterday.
Courtesy of the Northern Territory News, Darwin NT, 20/06/09
Thinking young only way to stay in touch
Terry McCarthy isn't ashamed to admit his eight-year-old granddaughter knows a fair bit more about today's technology than he does.
From sending a text-message, to using the internet, the Maryborough resident, in his early 70s, has never felt the need to keep up to speed - until now, that is.
"It was starting to feel like everything was going past me," he said. "I wanted to learn how to use a computer to stay in touch with my kids and grandkids."
So Mr McCarthy, a member of the Maryborough Probus Club, decided to join club members in Telstra's Introduction to the Internet workshop for seniors last Friday. "I'm going away with much more than I came with," he said. "So far, it's been of great benefit."
Mr McCarthy said one of the hardest parts to grasp was internet and computer terminology. He said he was looking forward to the next meeting in two weeks, "The fact is that I don't think you're ever too old to learn."
Courtesy of the Fraser Coast Chronicle, Hervey Bay QLD, 19/10/09
Did you know?
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Since the program‟s inception in 2007, we have provided over $1.3 million of grant funding to 188
community organisations to assist 45,000 older Australians to feel a sense of accomplishment by getting online and using their mobile phones.
For more information visit www.telstraseniors.com.au.
Creative technologies help children with autism
South Australian children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (autism or Asperger syndrome) are developing their social and conversation skills thanks to a cutting-edge video modelling program run by Autism SA and supported by the Telstra Foundation with a $224,000 grant over three years.
By tailoring technology to the specific skills and needs of children with autism – through the use of
video role-playing and online tools such as a comic strip conversation creator and a storytelling forum – the iModelling Social Groups program helps them learn and navigate the social world and better understand the people around them.
"Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder can experience developmental delays in the areas of communication, social and emotional understanding. This includes initiating peer contact, making and maintaining friendships, and suffering from bullying and abuse,” said Jon Martin, CEO of
Jon says that iModelling Social Groups participants reported an increased sense of self-esteem and belonging. "There is no known cause or cure for autism but there is so much that can be done to increase a child's quality of life through greater social contact and stronger relationships," Jon said.
“We‟ve seen some great engagement from the young people involved... The group format allows
for really positive bonds to form. Participants are mastering the ability to relate to each other and converse with people in a similar situation to the role playing,” he added.
At the conclusion of the three-year program, Autism SA hopes to package it up to assist other groups to deliver technology-based social development programs.
For more information visit www.autismsa.org.au.
Did you know?
In 2008/09, over $4.8 million in funding was provided through the Telstra Foundation to more than 1,200 projects. Since 2002, the Foundation has supported over 6,000 projects and programs to the value of over $32 million.
For more information visit www.telstrafoundation.com.au.
iii. Building stronger communities
Telstra‟s networks, products and services, along with our people‟s skills and knowledge, support
initiatives which build and strengthen the capacity of community groups and organisations to more effectively deliver their services and promote positive social change for all Australians.
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Special rates for special organisations
For many years Telstra has been helping Australian charities and not-for-profit organisations* make their limited funds go further for their clients or members.
Rates of around half to one third the usual monthly service cost (for fixed line telephone services) mean that these Telstra customers can choose to save this money and apply it to other areas of their operations, or get more services from their communications budget.
Mission Australia is one of thousands of organisations using the savings from these special rates to invest in leading technologies. The organisation is using the Telstra Next G? network for a
range of wireless data, mobile and voice solutions. For example, the network is helping Mission Australia case workers input and access client data in urban, regional, rural and remote locations from their laptops, anywhere in the country. This saves time, allowing for more direct interaction with clients and more time for other activities such as writing funding applications and reporting.
“When we quantified the benefits, we found that on average, every case worker saved 69 hours or
something like two weeks a year, in administration time. A saving of 69 hours per case worker would translate to nearly 35,000 hours per year, which is that much time we can give to our clients,” said Santana Khurana, Project Manager, Mission Australia.
Tim Morris-Smith, Mission Australia CFO, said that the rationalisation of the mobile workforce brought about increased productivity in excess of $1 million a year to the organisation, which enabled them to
redistribute funds to the point of need, working more effectively to help more clients.
*Australian charities and not-for-profit organisations as defined by Telstra‟s Customer Terms at
Did you know?
In 2008/09, Telstra provided special rates to over 143,000 fixed lines to the value of $29.8 million in savings to our charity and not-for-profit customers.
Helping to keep Aussies safe in the water
Telstra has been in partnership with Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) since 2003, recognising the crucial role local surf clubs play in building safer and stronger local communities.
The Telstra Beach to Bush surf safety program is an innovative education program which involves experienced and highly qualified surf lifesavers volunteering to travel to regional primary schools to teach important basic surf and water safety messages.
In 2008/09, the program reached more than 30,000 primary school children in more than 300 regional schools around Australia in an attempt to increase awareness of, and minimise the risks associated with, the surf and local waterways. This year, for the first time, classes will use live video conferencing to experience the beach - see where the flags are and find out how to look for rips.
“Surf Life Saving Australia has a goal of zero preventable deaths at beaches around the coast and the Telstra Beach to Bush program is particularly important to achieving this goal. SLSA statistics unfortunately show that beachgoers who live more than 50km from the beach are over represented in drowning statistics. If all beachgoers observe the five basic steps to ensure safety at the beach, surf lifesavers such as myself will have a quieter time when on surf patrol,” said Zane Holmes, dual
World Ironman Champion and Telstra Beach to Bush ambassador.
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“This is a vitally important grassroots education program which can save many lives over the summer surf season,” said Michael Rocca, Telstra‟s acting Chief Operations Officer. “Telstra‟s support of the Beach to Bush program is just one example of our commitment to providing tangible opportunities to regional communities across Australia.”
For more information visit www.telstra.com/beinvolved.
Did you know?
We are also helping our customers support their local surf clubs. Through the Answer the Call
campaign, Telstra contributes $30 for every new connection to an eligible Next G? mobile or
BigPond Broadband service to a participating surf club of our customers‟ choice. In the summer of
2008/09, the program contributed over $250,000 to 205 clubs right across Australia. Already, the campaign for the summer of 2009/10 has contributed over $135,000.
Rewarding young talent in regional communities
?Telstra Country Wide (TCW) is the local face of Telstra across Australia. TCW people work with and for the local communities Telstra operates in, out of 50 locations across the country.
TCW supports hundreds of activities and initiatives throughout the year that strengthen local communities. While the range of activities is wide and the scope of support varies – be it financial
or the provision of products, skills or services – the end result is always the same; TCW aims to
make a community better off.
For example, we invest in numerous initiatives which recognise and reward talented young people who are future leaders of their communities.
In Western Australia, we have supported the Sports Star of the Year Awards in the Goldfields and Esperance, for six and four years respectively. These awards recognise the pivotal role that sport plays in young people‟s lives and the positive impact that participating in sport at any level has in building a sense of community.
In New South Wales, we have long supported undergraduate and Honours scholarships at Southern Cross University to emphasise the importance of access to a university education. This ?includes the new $15,000 three-year Telstra Country Wide Indigenous Scholarship for Indigenous
students living in remote and regional areas.
"We have seen some wonderful success stories where, with our support, students have overcome ?obstacles and completed their studies," said Michael Sharpe, Telstra Country Wide Area General
Manager North Coast.
And in the Northern Territory, we have been supporting the Telstra Remote Indigenous Student of the Year Award for the past four years to recognise the hard work and dedication of talented Indigenous students in remote areas, and to encourage them to pursue higher education.
Kingsley Murphy, a student of the Maningrida Community Education Centre in North Central Arnhem Land, won this prestigious award in 2009, receiving the highest recognition from the NT Board of Studies, along with $1,000 from TCW to put towards his future education. Subsequently, Kingsley was a finalist in the NT Young Australian of the Year Awards.
Did you know?
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TCW in partnership with the Aboriginal Employment Strategy is helping five young Indigenous people realise their job aspirations. Trainees located in regional offices in Darwin, Townsville, Canberra and Geelong are currently completing their Certificate III in Business.
Supporting stronger, smarter futures
School principals and leaders across Australia are learning „stronger, smarter‟ ways of educating
Indigenous students, thanks to the Stronger Smarter Institute, formerly the Indigenous Education Leadership Institute.
Supported by the Telstra Foundation with a $1.2 million grant over three years, the Stronger Smarter Leadership program, which began in 2007, develops leadership capacity in key school staff and community members, and teaches them skills to engage Indigenous students. The program aims to help ensure Indigenous students stay in school longer and gain better future employment opportunities.
Participants commit to the program for 12 months, attending a five day residential course, school-based initiatives and follow-up workshops. They gain a clear connection to Indigenous perspectives and issues, a heightened awareness of their power and responsibilities as leaders and a smarter grasp of the possibilities and potential in their school communities.
The program is facilitated by Stronger Smarter Institute staff, under the guidance of the program‟s
creator Dr Chris Sarra. As principal at Cherbourg State School, Chris had unprecedented success with the „stronger, smarter‟ philosophy, achieving a 94 per cent drop in unexplained absenteeism.
“We have to challenge Indigenous kids‟ views about their future. We have to teach these students
to have high expectations,” he said.
“Once the students realise school can be fun and that turning up and participating can be a rewarding and positive experience, the change is amazing, and the battle to give them a decent future is half won.”
To date, over 330 school and community leaders have participated in the Stronger Smarter Leadership program and begun to implement their learning in their schools.
For more information visit www.strongersmarter.qut.edu.au.
Did you know?
Thanks to the positive results achieved by the Institute to date and to Telstra Foundation‟s support, the Federal Government has committed $16.4 million to the Stronger Smarter Learning Communities project to extend it throughout Australia.
Promoting corporate responsibility
Since 2006 Telstra has partnered with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) to teach young business people about corporate responsibility. We support three specific units each year and senior Telstra managers deliver weekly presentations to RMIT‟s Masters of Business
Administration students as part of the program. The course helps to develop a group of young business people who are aware of the challenges and relevance of corporate responsibility to their own business practice and performance.
“Involving corporate executives in the program enables students to see the real business world,
admire a role model and add to existing knowledge through their own research… This subject is
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