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A connected future is an accessible future

Inspiration Business and Enterprise

Posted on December 3, 2019

4 min read

Tuesday 3 December is International Day of People With Disability. The TelstrAbility Employee Representative Group hosted a panel on accessibility in Sydney and Melbourne to hear about how we can build a connected future so everyone can thrive. The event was live-streamed to audiences around the country.

One of the key takeaways was recognising that becoming an accessible employer and an accessible company doesn’t just happen overnight. At our collaborative panel event, our people who live with disabilities discussed the long journey towards becoming an accessible business.

They each identified areas where there have been improvements, while highlighting shortcomings that we’re well on our way to addressing.

Chris Riley, one of our Ways of Working coaches, offered an interesting insight on the journey of accessibility and how we all have a role to play.

“Is technology perfect for accessibility yet? Heavens no. But is it getting better? Absolutely.

“But accessibility is not just about building better technology, it’s about people. It’s about mindset. As a coach I train people on mindset as the powerhouse behind everything.

“By making small changes of mindset, you can have a big impact towards creating more accessible working environments,” Chris said on the panel.

Adem Cifcioglu, Founder and Director of Accessible Technologies at Intopia, told the audience that “you don’t know what you don’t know”, and that people “never set out to make something inaccessible”. Inaccessibility happens when teams building products and services don’t seek diverse perspectives from someone who may use that product or service with a specific requirement.

He added that accessibility is more than just a checkbox: it’s about designing something to be accessible in every step of the development process.

One of our key values is “better together”. It’s about understanding that we benefit from what we have in common and strengthen our internal culture by leveraging our differences to build things collaboratively. Amy Whalley, Deputy CEO of Australian Network on Disability, recognised that as part of our “better together” practices, we need to recognise that accessibility is everyone’s job.

“There isn’t one person responsible for driving accessible culture and accessibility,” Amy says. “Everyone is responsible for disrupting biases to make sure that we’re creating an accessible workplace. If you see something that isn’t accessible, make sure you call it out within the organisation,” she added.

Amy said that the most effective way to ensure you’re being open and accessible is to remember the acronym “ATP”. That stands for “Ask The Person”.

“By thinking about the humans who interact with the technology, we get the best results. Asking the person what they need is the biggest leap forward we can take for accessibility,” Amy said.

Chris Riley added that ATP is great, and needs to be a constant feedback process: “Keep checking in on people and keep asking the questions about what they need to do their job well!”

Amy also mentioned that Telstra has recently become one of only a dozen Australian organisations to be recognised by the Australian Network on Disability as a Disability Confident Recruiter. This is significant, as it recognises us as an accessible workplace of choice for the 1 in 5 Aussies living with a disability.

We’re obsessed with attracting the best talent to help build a connected future, and by making our recruitment and employment processes more accessible we’re now able to select from a broad and diverse talent pool.

Becoming a Disability Confident Recruiter, or DCR, sends a message to skilled candidates with disabilities that they can feel confident to apply for roles with us, and that we have the flexibility, the technology and the culture that supports them to thrive.

Being certified as a DCR means we’ve worked to remove barriers to the recruitment process and build new workplace adjustments to cater for those with an accessibility requirement, while becoming an employer of choice within the disabled community to attract more talented individuals to our ranks.

Being an accessible employer unlocks huge value for a business, and in turn its shareholders. Companies that improve their accessibility are four times as likely to build greater shareholder return after doing so. That’s why we’re acceding to the requirements of being a DCR and updating our internal disability policies to ensure everything from our premises through to our products are accessible to everyone.

A connected future has to be an accessible one, and by working collaboratively to ensure we’re better together, we’ll ensure that we’re building that connected future for everyone.

Our new dads embrace our parental leave policy

Telstra News Community

Posted on December 2, 2019

4 min read

We’ve been named number two on the list of best workplaces for new dads according to research conducted by HBF Health and CoreData. 

Since we announced changes to our parental leave policy in July, more than 400 Telstra dads have taken up the new entitlements which are designed so that every new Australian based parent, regardless of gender, can share caring responsibilities while maintaining their career. 

Changing our policy removed the distinction between primary and secondary carers. Now, any eligible parent who has been with Telstra for a year or more can take up to 16 weeks of paid parental leave within the first 12 months after their child’s birth or placement. Secondary carers previously received two weeks of paid leave. 

And there’s added flexibility – it can be taken in one block or multiple blocks and can also be used to return to work on a part-time basis. 

We talk to some of the new dads here who are loving the new policy. 

First-time dad – Steve Papayianis 

Operations Specialist – providing operational support to the Telstra Business Technology Centre 

Steve and Jordan Papayianis, first-time dad

Jordan Papayianis was born on August 17, 2019 to Steve and Jo. The first-time parents were excited, in love, anxious and wide-eyed as their world had just changed forever. This is his story.

I took off five weeks from the birth to help care for Jordan and help Jo as she recovered and adapted to motherhood. 

What I really love about the policy is its flexibility in allowing me to take the 16 weeks in intervals, meaning I can spend quality time with Jordan during different phases of the first 12 months of his life.  

The extra time at home gave Jo and I the chance to really go into parenthood as a team. It’s also allowed me to spend quality time with Jordan and enjoy moments I would have otherwise missed. 

I’m extremely fortunate to be part of a very flexible team and supportive manager who continually promotes the values of family and work-life balance. 

Second-time dad – Dylan Radcliffe 

Enterprise Architect – lead solution architect on the Consumer and Small Business Digitisation Program 

Dylan and Leon Radcliffe, second-time dad

Leon Radcliffe arrived in April to join big brother Eric who is five years old. Dylan has worked at Telstra for 17 years and is relishing the new parental leave policy combined with All Roles Flex. This is his story.

I took two weeks off when Leon was born and I am taking another five weeks over January, which enables me to take on greater parental responsibility and support my partner as she prepares to return to work.  

I believe society has started to acknowledge that women do more than their fair share of domestic work in general, including parenting, and that dads need to lift their game. 

We’ve shown real leadership in this policy change by acknowledging that both parents have a role to play, not just the primary carer (very often the mum). From a personal perspective, this has given me an opportunity to spend more time off work with my youngest son Leon than was possible back when my eldest was born. 

As a leader myself, I believe it is vital we take care of our people – one of our values is show you careafter all. Part of that is recognising their home responsibilities including as parents or carers and providing flexible working arrangements to help with this.  

Soon-to-be-dad – Mark Soffer 

Global Footprint Principal – leading the Global Footprint function which coordinates on what Telstra does across the globe 

Mark and Sasha Soffer, expecting their first child in February

Mark and his wife Sasha are expecting their first baby in February. Sasha is a doctor and won’t be able to take much time off, so Mark is taking a different approach to parental leave. This is their story.

The new parental leave policy has literally been life-changing for me. I’m not just taking the 16 weeks, I’m taking 32 weeks at half pay to stay home with our child and enable my wife to focus on her medical career.  

This wasn’t something that we had considered when we decided to start a family, but the new policy has meant we have been able to prioritise as a family what works best for us and our baby. 

The leadership that we’ve shown by introducing this policy has meant that I haven’t had to choose between being a dad and working full time as we bring our baby into the world. 

From intern to full-time: how we’re helping Indigenous students find their fit

Telstra Careers Advice

Posted on November 20, 2019

4 min read

We have just welcomed 16 talented and driven Indigenous university students who are joining us this summer for the CareerTrackers internship program.

Every summer and winter, we aim to onboard new interns as well as welcome back some familiar faces returning for another experience. Over the next three months, our interns will be hard at work in different areas of our business.

Since 2015, we’ve partnered with CareerTrackers – a national not-for-profit organisation that aims to create paid, multi-year internship opportunities for Indigenous university students in Australia.

This partnership is part of our 2019-21 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), in which we’ve committed to increasing our CareerTrackers intake to 20 per year for the next three years to help improve the participation of Indigenous Australians in the workforce and develop future talent.

We’re committed to continuously building a strong pipeline of diverse early career talent, and this program is a means to help Indigenous students find their career fit and gain work experience relevant to their degree – with the aim of developing them from interns into our graduate program or full-time employment once they complete their degrees.

We asked Kirstin Shaw, one of our past interns who is now a full-time employee, to share her experience on the CareerTrackers program at Telstra and her career journey since then.

Kirstin’s story

I’ve been at Telstra for almost 5 years now, and have loved every step along the way, from Customer Advisor to Intern, to Summer Vacation Student to Graduate, and then a permanent role! My career started before CareerTrackers came along – I applied for a casual role in a Telstra store, and the leads I worked with were always extremely supportive of my ambitions – this supportive culture led me to look at Telstra as a long term career choice.

I grew up in Mackay in North Queensland and began studying a double degree in Law & Accounting online at Central Queensland University while working part-time at a local tax firm. When I moved to Brisbane, I moved in with a friend whose brother worked for CareerTrackers and that’s how I found out about the program. They provided me the academic support and direction I was really lacking.

The community was like nothing I had ever experienced at home – it allowed me to learn a lot about myself and my culture and connect on a deeper level. Seeing others from backgrounds like mine succeed made me realise I could do a lot better than I was.

What area of the business did you rotate into, and what did you learn?

My first internship was in Service Delivery in Enterprise in 2016. I did 4 weeks in this team and this was enough to cement the fact that Telstra was the right fit for my early career.

I applied for the Summer Vacation program and accidentally ticked a box confirming I’d relocate to Melbourne instead of staying in Brisbane. I got a position which was in Melbourne – I had never been before, knew no one here, but was determined to make it work.

I spent those 12 weeks in a Small Business Sales team attending customer site visits, investigating customer non-payment causes and NPS. After this I was accepted to the Finance Grad program, which saw me permanently move to Melbourne – ticking that box in 2016 is the best mistake I’ve ever made! I completed three rotations in Commissions Finance, Group Compliance and Supply Chain Operations – each rotation was very different and allowed me to build different skills.

I’ve now rolled off the grad program into Group Internal Audit, which I’m loving – there are always new things to learn and different parts of the business to dive into. I’ve had fantastic support along the way from our people – namely, store leads, Grad leads and the Indigenous recruitment specialists who always supported me to follow my passions.

The highlight of CareerTrackers was earning my Gold Diary – an award for students who maintain a distinction average. Coming from a place where I didn’t know what a GPA was, this was a huge achievement for me and something I may not have been motivated to do without the community’s support.

What would you say to other Indigenous students who are looking at applying for the CareerTrackers program with Telstra?

Give it a go – what do you have to lose? It just may be the best decision you ever make. Being a part of CareerTrackers was a driving force for my success at university and into my early career. Get yourself a mentor and learn as much as possible.

Be strong about where you would like to see your career take you, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself.

Bringing the light of Diwali to more places this year


Posted on October 24, 2019

2 min read

Family playing with firecrackers for Diwali

Diwali is the annual festival of lights celebrated by Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Newar Buddhists, although it represents a different meaning to each of the many cultural groups that observe it. No matter your background, we want to help you connect, celebrate and enjoy.

Diwali is a special time of celebration with family, friends and loved ones in many South Asian cultures. The four- or five-day-long festival of lights symbolises the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, and of knowledge over ignorance.

In the past, Diwali celebrations around Australia were relatively small and private, but in recent years we’ve been delighted to see the hundreds of thousands of Australians with Indian or subcontinental heritage taking part in public celebrations around the country.

To mark the occasion this year, we’re offering a bonus add-on to our mobile plans: unlimited standard calls and texts to India and 24 other destinations from Australia, for $0 a month for the first 12 months on a $60 or above month-to-month plan.

An Indian family connecting with relatives and friends for Diwali

Even if it’s day here and night there, you can bring some light to the lives of your friends and family by giving them a call and sharing the celebration of Diwali. All you have to do is choose International Direct Calls as an add on when you’re choosing a new plan from our Diwali store page.

We’re very proud to support Australia’s Indian community with initiatives like the Telstra Bollywood Dance Competition at Melbourne’s Indian Film Festival, and we wish everyone a happy, safe and light-filled Diwali.

Things you need to know

Offer ends 28 October 2019. Available in selected stores and online. After 12-month trial has ended active customers will be charged $10/mth unless you opt out. Excludes calls to premium and satellite phone numbers and video calls. 

Why I’m stepping up again for Steptember


Posted on September 17, 2019

3 min read

We’re at the midway point of Steptember – Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s (CPA) fundraiser to challenge people to move 10,000 steps each day this month.

To date, more than $6M has been raised globally from steppers around the world to support people living with cerebral palsy.

As a parent of two children with a disability, I’m excited by the potential of technology to drive inclusion and reduce barriers for people with disability. When I’m stepping, that’s what I’m thinking about and I encourage people to join the Steptember effort or donate to a team that has stepped up this year.

Just reflecting on my Steptember this year, I like the idea that when I take stairs instead of a lift or encourage my friends and family to part with their reddies to sponsor me, that this all rolls up to something much bigger than a charity fundraiser.

For Telstra people involved in Steptember, we’re stepping up because our fundraising supports CPA’s Remarkable, Australia’s first accelerator for early-stage start-ups creating tech that improves life for people with disability. 

Last year we raised more than $200K, and while we topped the Steptember fundraiser tally board the real headline was that six new innovative tech enterprises were supported to make a difference. Through Steptember we helped:

  • Sameview to build a trusted online platform for easier, and better disability care coordination
  • Spokle to launch its speech therapy app to provide practical, family-centred communication strategies to support children with communication disorders
  • Bookbot to empower those with learning disabilities to become confident, independent learners through a reading assistant app
  • jobmatcher to use predictive artificial intelligence to match the most relevant positions for each job seeker, particularly tackling the low employment rates for people with disability
  • NomadVR to bring highly stimulating virtual reality experiences to empower anyone without the means to go outside with the ability to do so much more
  • PolySpine to develop a customised, modular torso and head support system that enables people with physical disability to participate in various recreational and rehabilitation activities

Here are just a few ways that you can meet your Steptember goals by the end of the month and step it up:

  1. Walk away from your desk for lunch and get some fresh air. It will not only get your steps up but help you to refocus for the afternoon.
  2. Get off the train/bus/tram a stop early to get some extra steps in.
  3. Park your car further away from your destination to not only increase your chances of finding a car park but increase your step count.
  4. Say no the elevator and embrace the stairs.
  5. Spring has sprung so spend some time outside getting your garden ready. You’d be surprised how many steps you’ll do mowing, weeding and planting.
  6. Take your meeting to go: walking and talking will allow you to have a doubly productive meeting.
  7. Retail therapy: get those steps up and treat yourself to a shopping trip.
  8. Get social and active: walk with someone as a social activity catch up or walk over to a work colleague to talk instead of emailing them.
  9. Set an hourly alarm to remind yourself to take a stroll.
  10. Keep it fun – walk the dogs, kids, partners, and get everyone outdoors to play.  

You can #makeeverystepcount: