As devastating bushfires continue to impact thousands of Australians, telcos big and small are stepping up to offer aid and support, both to affected customers and members of the emergency services.
Staying in touch with loved ones is never more important than during an emergency. If you’re experiencing hardship due to the recent fires – or you’re one of the many volunteer firefighters working to protect lives and communities – you may be eligible for waived bills, assistance packages, free services, and more.
Telstra is providing assistance packages to residential and small business customers in affected areas. Aussies who have lost homes or property, have been evacuated from their homes, or who are experiencing disruption to their phone lines, may be eligible for the following services:
- Free use of Telstra public payphones and Telstra Air hotspots in affected areas
- Free call diversion from an affected fixed home or business line to any fixed line or mobile number (up to six months for severely impacted customers)
- Fixed-line local and STD call rates for customers who divert their Telstra calls to a mobile number
- A one-off mobile credit to value of $100
- A one-off credit of up to $500 to fixed phone accounts to cover re-connection costs (severely impacted customers only)
Telstra is also offering assistance packages to all registered volunteer firefighters and ‘farm fighters’ (farmers with personal firefighting equipment who help in the event of a bushfire). These packages will waive Telstra mobile phone bills for firefighters throughout December 2019 and January 2020.
Affected Telstra customers can find out more about available services by calling 13 22 03, or visiting Telstra’s website.
In addition to helping customers directly impacted by bushfire, Telstra is also providing all Australians access to free calls on all Telstra payphones, as well as free use of the Telstra Air WiFi network.
While refuelling a generator, one of our techs found this little fella on the ground near Buchan ? He was thirsty, very friendly but had an injured leg so was taken to Animal Aid nearby when we left the site. pic.twitter.com/bzGIYlu3sM
— Telstra (@Telstra) January 7, 2020
Optus customers impacted by fires may be eligible for the telco’s financial assistance program. Residential and small business customers affected by bushfires can qualify for the following services:
- Free call diversions from an Optus fixed phone line to any mobile or fixed number
- Bill extensions
- Bill waivers
- Free suspension, cancellation, or relocation of an Optus fixed line service
- Free prepaid recharges
Volunteer firefighters with Optus accounts may also qualify for a bill waiver for all mobile calls made in December 2019 and January 2020, and all Optus customers now have unmetered and data-free access to the following emergency websites:
Optus is also providing on-the-ground support to evacuation centres, supplying mobile satellite cells for additional coverage and offering evacuees access to charging stations, prepaid SIMs, and more. If you’re an Optus customer directly affected by fires, help is available by calling 1300 301 671, or by heading to Optus’ website.
Like Telstra and Optus, Vodafone is offering financial assistance to customers directly impacted by the bushfire crisis. Affected customers can apply for Vodafone’s hardship assistance, and may be eligible for support including bill waivers and payment extensions and waived cancellation/late fees. Help and information is available by calling 1300 650 405.
Volunteer firefighters with Vodafone mobile accounts will also have their bills waived throughout December 2019 and January 2020. National and state volunteers with an official volunteer ID number can apply for an account credit to the value of all service charges accrued over the two-month period, either by calling 1300 650 410 or visiting a Vodafone store.
Vodafone will also support its own employees volunteering with firefighting services, by offering up to four weeks of paid leave during the ongoing crisis.
Although not a retail provider, NBN Co is supplying free Wi-Fi to affected locations across NSW, South Australia and Victoria. Sky Muster satellite dishes have been installed at more than 20 evacuation centres, and technicians are working to restore outages and network issues across all impacted locations.
A full list of centres offering free community Wi-Fi through NBN Co is available here.
— nbn™ Australia (@NBN_Australia) January 9, 2020
It’s not just the big three telcos offering support to affected customers and employees. Many smaller Aussie providers are also doing their part by waiving bills, supplying assistance, and donating funds to relief services.
Amaysim is offering support to customers impacted by fires and volunteer firefighters on Amaysim plans. Customers can call 1300 808 300 for more information.
Boost Mobile will donate 100% of all profits made from January’s refurbished phones sales to bushfire relief. Eligible volunteer firefighters with Boost Mobile accounts may also qualify for 30 days of free calls, plus 10GB of prepaid data with a 30-day expiry.
Circles.Life has also confirmed it will waive bills for customers living in bushfire-affected areas. Customers can find out more via Circles.Life’s live chat, or request a callback on 1300 863 004.
Southern Phone will waive all internet, broadband, mobile and home phone usage fees for affected customers throughout January, as well as for firefighters and SES volunteers. Around 6,500 customers in NSW and 600 in Victoria will receive automatic account credits, with further options such as free call diversions and payment extensions also available. Southern Phone plans to contact affected customers directly, but subscribers can call 13 14 64 for more information.
Woolworths Mobile is offering assistance packages to affected customers, and covering bills for volunteer firefighters. Impacted customers can apply for assistance by calling 1300 101 234.
Even if your provider isn’t listed here, you may still be eligible for help. We encourage everyone directly affected by fires, or volunteering with emergency services, to check in with their phone or internet supplier – you may qualify for support including bill extensions or waived charges.