Bundaberg Region residents will now be able to make free calls from all Telstra payphones thanks to an initiative aimed at supporting communities nationwide.
In the past year 11 million calls were made across Australia from Telstra payphones.
This included more than 230,000 calls to critical services like 000 and Lifeline, proving a crucial service for some of the country’s most vulnerable people and communities.
Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said this decision meant everyone could now use payphones to make a free local or national call to a standard fixed line or a call to an Australian mobile, when they needed to.
“Telstra payphones are now free phones for everyone to anywhere in Australia,” Mr Penn said.
“They are an iconic and critical part of our community, and for many Australians, the availability of a payphone is a vital lifeline, especially for those vulnerable including the homeless, people who are isolated or someone escaping an unsafe situation.”
Mr Penn said he made the decision to make national calls from payphones free because of the crucial role they played in the community, particularly in times of need and for those in need.
“I have been moved seeing firsthand queues of people waiting in line to use a payphone to tell their family and friends they’re safe after a bushfire, a cyclone or some other natural disaster has taken the mobile network down,” he said.
“I can only imagine the relief their families feel knowing their loved one is safe.
“During COVID-related lockdowns, we’ve seen domestic and family violence agencies report a 60 per cent rise in new clients seeking help for the first time, and an increase in abusive behaviours overall.
“It’s not always easy for people in these situations to use a home phone or their mobile to get help, so I hope making payphone calls free might play a small part in helping them get the assistance they need.”
Mr Penn said as Telstra’s purpose was to build a connected future so everyone could thrive in a better, more caring and more inclusive Australia.
“An Australia where people can reach out for help if and when they need, or just connect if they feel like it,” he said.
We take our responsibility for keeping people connected seriously, and today’s announcement reinforces that commitment.”
To find a list of payphones near you click here.
- Other news: Council puts mozzies under the mini microscope