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Monday, April 12, 2021

Free calls at Christmas to foster connection

Telstra is making their payphones and selected Air Wi-Fi hotspots free of charge over Christmas and the New Year to ensure everyone can connect with friends and family during the festive season.

“Distance is an intrinsic part of this year’s Christmas season, but that separation doesn’t mean you can’t connect with your loved ones,” Jackie Coates, head of the Telstra Foundation, the company’s philanthropic arm, said.

Telstra’s payphone network will be free between 24 December 2020 and 1 January 2021 so anyone who needs to can make local, national, and standard mobile calls or SMS to anywhere around Australia.

Telstra is also making selected Telstra Air Wi-Fi access points at their payphones and stores free to use for video calling.

“We know this year has been hard because of lockdown and closed borders, and at Christmas, feelings of isolation and loneliness can peak,” Ms Coates said. “It’s important that we help in any way we can so that people can have a vital feeling of connection and hope at this time of year.”

More than 11 million calls are made each year on the 15,000-odd payphones around Australia – 200,000 of those calls to national ‘000’ services.

“For many, especially vulnerable people like the homeless or those escaping an unsafe family situation, their presence is a vital lifeline,” Ms Coates said.

In the past few years, she said, Telstra has helped hundreds of thousands of people call their families and loved ones during the Christmas and New Year season, or use thousands of gigabytes of data through Telstra Air.

Last Christmas, almost half a million calls were placed for free on Telstra’s payphone network. That represents almost 1.2 million minutes of calls between family, friends and loved ones.

Anyone struggling with their mental health can use payphones to call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

Ms Coates urged people to be mindful of COVID-19 during this time; if you’re using a payphone or a Telstra Air Wi-Fi access point, respect social distancing, and practise hygiene measures like washing your hands before and after use.

“If you’re out and about during the Christmas to New Year period, and you spot one of our payphones – even if you don’t need a free call – then make sure to get in touch with your loved ones when you can,” she said.

Free calls around Australia to local, national, and standard mobiles from Telstra payphones from 24 December 2020 – 1 January 2021 inclusive. Free calls exclude international calls and premium services (19x), Mobile Satellite, and 1234, 12456 directory services. Excludes Telstra rented.

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