Monday, 13 April 2020 23:43

Optus, Business and Community Network partner on disadvantaged school students program Featured

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Optus is partnering with the Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN) to provide disadvantaged secondary school students with a free Prepaid mobile plan to keep them connected and support their studies through its Donate Your Data program.

Optus says the program supports ABCN schools that are typically high needs and located in low socio-economic communities and, during the first wave, it will work closely with ABCN and a small number of NSW principals to distribute several hundred SIM cards “with the aim of scaling to support 6,000 significantly disadvantaged students nationally”.

“During these challenging times, as schools across the nation shift to remote learning, we understand how difficult it can be for some young Australians who don’t have regular access to the internet to stay connected,” said Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin.

“It is essential that young Australians can continue to learn and stay connected with their classmates, which is why we are delighted to be partnering with ABCN to ensure that students in most need are supported by our Donate Your Data initiative and have the connectivity in place to continue with their studies.”

ABCN CEO Allegra Spender said: “The principals we’ve been talking to about the impact of COVID-19 are furiously working on the shift to remote learning. But if students don’t have internet access, their ability to engage in education is in crisis.”

“A few parents our principals have spoken to were nearly in tears hearing the news that ABCN has partnered with Optus to offer this program. It will certainly ease the stress on families who are hurting,” said Spender.

“Thirty percent of our students don’t have reliable access to the internet at home. One of our high-achieving Year 11 refugee students is panicking about missing out – the only device she has is a basic phone and her mother can’t afford much data for her as well as four siblings,” said Tim Lloyd, Principal of Plumpton High School, one of ABCN’s partner schools.

“Without internet access she is isolated even though the school has provided her a laptop.”

Optus says that since the program’s launch on 2 December 2019, over 200,000 of its customers have donated over 5,739,749 GB of data and “thousands of students from The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program, the KARI foundation, yourtown and Mission Australia will benefit from Optus’ Donate Your Data initiative”.

The telco says it is looking to expand the program by including additional charities and causes “to help bridge the digital divide faced by young Australians living in disadvantage”.

Optus Postpaid and Prepaid Mobile customers on eligible plans can start donating data now, and for more information on the Donate Your Data program click here or check out the My Optus app.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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