Thursday, 23 January 2020 14:38

Optus launches ‘green shoots’ grants program to help bushfire affected Australians Featured

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Optus has launched a grants program to help re-establish connectivity within regional Australia, particularly through support for small businesses affected by bushfires.

Optus will make grants available through the Green Shoots program during 2020, beginning from 17 February, with the program comprising 2,000 grants and including:

  • A technology pack which includes one complimentary tablet and up to two years Optus mobile plan and/or fixed internet service (technology package open to non-customers and existing Optus customers. Participants must be in an Optus service area to qualify for the package)
  • Making available our dedicated tech support team based in Australia for small businesses
  • Optus to extend its staff volunteer programme to enable its staff to support small businesses affected by the bushfires to get back on their feet

Optus says the grants program will be open for application on February 17 and close on 30 March 2020, unless otherwise extended.

Optus has also activated its financial assistance policy for customers affected by the bushfires, which may include:

  • Free call diversions from an Optus fixed home phone to any mobile or fixed number
  • Extended timeframes for bill payments
  • Bill waivers in instances of extreme financial hardship
  • Free suspension, relocation or cancellation of an Optus fixed service; and
  • Free prepaid recharges for eligible impacted customers

Optus Chief Executive Allen Lew said Optus is supporting impacted businesses to get back on their feet through a small business grant program which will be called ‘Green Shoots’.

“Many regional towns have been affected by the bushfires and it will take significant time and resources for the affected small businesses and communities to rebuild and bounce back.

“We are focused on rebuilding and reconnecting the engine room of the Australian economy – small business – in bushfire affected regions.”

Lew said throughout the bushfires Optus had been working tirelessly to maintain service and quickly restore tower outages, working collaboratively with local governments and agencies, and supplementing services with satellite and mobile small cells where sites were damaged by fires.

Optus CEO Designate, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin said that green shoots were the first sign of regrowth and Optus would provide small businesses and communities a boost by re-establishing and supporting their ability to get back online and reconnect with their communities.

“All of us at Optus want to inspire optimism in regional Australia and give the impacted communities hope and belief for the future. That’s why we will be supporting small businesses, the driving forces of growth within the rebuilding regional economies.”

Lew said the Green Shoots program is one of a number of initiatives Optus has implemented to reconnect and assist its customers.

"We understand that customers and communities need evolving support and assistance so Green Shoots has been designed to complement a range of initiatives for those in need.”

In addition, given the spike in internet usage, Optus has also provided unmetered access to a range of emergency services websites for customers in bushfire affected areas to ensure customers can access the information they need, without exceeding their plan data caps.

Optus staff have been providing on-the-ground support in bushfire affected zones including visiting evacuation centres and enhancing network experience with charging stations, pre-paid SIMs, satellite and mobile phone access, and other support as needed. Optus is also matching donations dollar-for-dollar in our employee bushfire appeal.

Optus also announced it would cover the costs of volunteer firefighters’ and SES volunteers’ mobile services for December and January to show appreciation for the efforts of volunteer firefighters protecting communities around Australia.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year 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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