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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:

Becoming a more sustainable business every single day

Sustainability Report Sustainability

Posted on August 30, 2019

3 min read

As we transform our business through our T22 strategy, we have not lost sight of the bigger picture – or our responsibility for managing our environmental and social impacts.

Through our Sustainability strategy, we continually look for opportunities to make a difference through responsible business, digital inclusion and environmental solutions. We seek to help our customers and society adapt to technological change and the opportunities it brings.

Our annual sustainability assessment showed us which topics matter more than ever, and that the breadth of issues which our customers, partners and stakeholders expect us to address has never been greater.

Our Bigger Picture report provides a detailed overview of the work we’ve undertaken in the past, and that we commit to undertake in the years ahead across our business, to better enable everyone to thrive in a digital world.

Responsible business

This past year, Australia’s public, consumers and shareholders alike, have publicly reminded large companies of the value they place on being transparent, ethical and accountable. We know how important investing in the sustainable future of our organisation is, not just for the health of our business but for our people as well.

At Telstra, we are committed to our values and behaviours, particularly in this time of significant organisational and societal change. We take seriously our duty to operate our business responsibly and strive to maintain a strong values-based culture. Highlights in FY19 include:

  • Investing over $30 million in employee learning and development
  • Achieving a six-point increase in our Episode Net Promoter Score
  • Mandatory compliance training completed by 98.3% of employees

Digital futures

As digital technologies play an increasingly central role in our lives, there remains a significant gap between those who are connected and those who are not.

In FY19 we focused on consolidating the gains made over recent years to increase digital inclusion and ensure our new suite of products and services enhances this.  Highlights include:

Environmental solutions

We are committed to managing our environmental impacts and helping our customers and communities to do the same. We accept our responsibility to help facilitate low-carbon growth, to minimise our emissions, and to improve community resilience to a changing climate. Highlights in FY18 include:

  • Investing $4.7 million in improving the energy efficiency of our facilities
  • Reducing our carbon emissions intensity (tCO2e/petabyte) by 40% from our FY17 baseline
  • Collecting 2,986 tonnes of e-waste, with a recycling rate of 99.97%

We’re proud of our progress, but we don’t intend to rest on our laurels. We’re committed to being a responsible business by connecting others while strengthening our own sustainability at the same time. I hope you find this year’s report helpful and instructive, and welcome your feedback on our approach and performance.

Bringing our business technology expertise to more customers across Melbourne

Business and Enterprise

Posted on August 28, 2019

3 min read

The first Telstra Business Technology Centre to be rolled out in Victoria is now open – with our new Melbourne City centre providing expert information, personalised service and ongoing support to our small business customers from the iconic Rialto building on Collins Street.

I was proud to officially open the Telstra Business Technology Centre at Melbourne City today, and to meet the dedicated team of experts who will be available both for walk-ins and by appointment to offer a one-stop-shop for advice to our small and medium-sized business partners.

Our Business Technology Centres are designed with the needs of business owners and operators in mind – no matter how simple or how complex their operations are. The staff at our Centres are highly trained with expertise in our small business solutions, whether you need to set up a website or e-commerce store, if you want a cloud service for your digital operations, or if you have more traditional needs like fixed broadband or mobile services.

The Melbourne City store is one of the 28 Telstra Business Technology Centres that we are opening around the country this year, providing bespoke support and advice to our small and medium business customers on the technology their operations need to succeed.

There are over 9000 of our small and medium business customers in the area surrounding this new Business Technology Centre in Melbourne, so we know there is a strong demand for this kind of personalised support. We know that the needs of small and medium-sized businesses are constantly changing and evolving as technology evolves, and we know you want guidance on the best and most effective ways to grow their operations.

Telstra Business Technology Centre Melbourne

Our ongoing partnership with cloud technology provider Oreta means that our Melbourne City centre can address the increasingly complex technology needs of businesses, with experts on hand in cloud services, security and multi-site networks for larger operations. An experience centre inside our new offices will also showcase the latest technology and solutions from our partners, including products from Cisco, Microsoft and Google. Telstra and Oreta have grown their relationship over time. Now, as a full-service partner, Oreta is a trusted business advisor for Telstra’s customers bringing together technology vendors and Telstra’s world-class connectivity to deliver genuine customer-centric solutions to meet the unique needs of business customers.

We’ve also recently launched Account Management Support for all our small business customers, irrespective of their size or their spend with us. We hope this is a boon for time-poor business owners – by offering them personalised support from a specialised team with extended operating hours, we want to take the burden of managing Telstra services off the hands of business owners to give them more to run their business more effectively. We will continue to roll out our Telstra Business Technology Centres around Australia throughout this year and the next. We’ve made many changes to the way we work with small business as part of our T22 strategy, and we’re always listening to better understand the needs of customers now and in the future.

Telstra Business Technology Centre Melbourne

Bringing stories from the outback to online

Telstra News Entertainment

Posted on August 22, 2019

3 min read

A new podcast from RMIT University is shining a light on how mobile technology and the internet are used in Aboriginal communities and towns by members of the world’s oldest living culture.

As part of our 2018-21 Reconciliation Action Plan commitments to support digital inclusion for remote Indigenous Australians, we funded the Disconnect series with RMIT to tell the story of how the internet is used in Aboriginal communities across the country.

Connectivity is something we take for granted as a central part of modern life, whether it’s in a metropolitan area or a remote community. The way that connectivity is used, though, varies with the cultural and geographic context of its users, and their priorities change as they experience it and over time.

Disconnect is written and hosted by RMIT University’s Ellie Rennie, co-hosted with Tyson Yunkaporta from Deakin University. Available on IndigiTUBE, YouTube, Spotify, iTunes and other podcasting apps, each episode examines a unique aspect of internet use and its impact – good and bad, in Aboriginal communities.

Disconnect co-hosts Ellie Rennie and Tyson Yunkaporta in the studio. Credit: RMIT University.

According to Rennie, “the pace of life changes with internet access, and people need to manage the negative things that come with it, such as internet scams.”

“It’s not so much about how the internet is changing communities, but how communities are changing the internet by placing their own rules and order on it.”

For starters, Yunkaporta explains, the assumption that mobile phones are a personal device does not always apply in Aboriginal communities.

“What does it mean to have a ‘personal’ device in a society built on communal obligations and sharing on demand?” he says.

“Everything is shared in these communities and to go against that by insisting a mobile device is only for your use can be a significant challenge.”

The topics covered in the Disconnect series were all contributed by the communities themselves, and interviews were collected with PY Media in the APY Lands and ARDS in Arnhem Land, as well as with inDigiMOB – the digital mentors program run by First Nations Media Australia and funded by Telstra.

Michael from inDigiMOB interviews Trevor and Jasper on Groote Eylandt for the Disconnect podcast. Credit: Ben Ward.

One topic of particular interest throughout the series is the challenge of providing connectivity to geographically remote and disparate communities, including an invention from the Centre for Appropriate Technology to passively boost mobile phone reception in areas where no powered solution is available or appropriate.

Yunkaporta says that the internet and technology can be a boon to protecting and growing Indigenous culture, amplifying social groups and maintaining close community connections using social media.

“Traditionally our cultures have a dense sociality to them. This is not something that is necessarily negatively affected by technology, it’s actually seen in most quarters as something that enables dense sociality, especially over distance.”

“Despite the transience in our communities, people are able to maintain social groups and communities via social media that would have been impeded by distance before.”

Amethea interviews Michael on Groote Eylandt, in Australia’s Top End, for the Disconnect podcast. Credit: Ben Ward.

IDAHOBIT Day 2019: we can all play a role as champions for diversity


Posted on May 16, 2019

4 min read

Since 2004, May 17 has stood as a day to celebrate LGBTI+ people around the world – to recognise their existence, to understand their struggle, and to commemorate their achievements in striving for equality.

The date stands in solemn recognition of May 17, 1990, when the World Health Organisation’s then-new International Statistical Classification of Diseases no longer listed homosexuality as a diagnosis for mental illness – and remembering the days before then when this was not the case.

Over the years since 1990, and even since 2004, the world has come a long way in embracing diversity and inclusion in many different ways small and large. In some ways, however, the progress has been slow. It has been barely 18 months since Australia’s Federal Parliament voted marriage equality into law, a crowning achievement for the LGBTI+ community. This achievement, however, also served to remind us that we still have a way to go to be free of inequality and prejudice.

Every year, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT Day) is also an opportunity for allies of the LGBTI+ community to show their visible support, to declare “I proudly stand with you”, to speak up to reject homophobia, transphobia, interphobia, biphobia, and exclusive behaviour wherever we see it.

Part of that support comes from the understanding that advocating for inclusion is a constant process, and that everyone can play a role no matter how they identify.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace

We realise that in our modern age, this discrimination can and does occur in many forms – institutionally and informally, on the street, in the workplace or online.

We sincerely believe everyone who works at Telstra should be able to bring their whole selves to work – and we want that to be true of anyone throughout their career, no matter their place of work.

For our part, we as an organisation are striving to move past simply considering age, gender and ethnicity in our work to instead take a holistic view of diversity, as part of our newly implemented company-wide Diversity & Inclusion Strategy, while prioritising fairness for any under-represented or marginalised groups.

This new strategy sets in stone our intention to use the power of diverse thinking in inclusive teams to pursue innovation – in creating an inclusive environment at Telstra where everyone can thrive, we want to ensure that under-represented people and groups are heard, and that diverse thinking is valued.

To that end, we’ve set up four new employee representative groups to champion diversity across our business, each with a sponsor from our executive leadership team – we want to underline the importance of this representation at every level within our organisation, and for everyone to commit to creating inclusive teams. These new groups come in addition to our long-running SPECTRUM network representing LGBTI employees and their allies at Telstra, now in its 11th year, and our Brilliant Connected Women group pushing forward in gender diversity.

Diversity is a reality; inclusion is a choice. We’ve made the choice to be inclusive, to set an example for others in our professional and personal lives. As an organisation, we’re a foundation member of Pride in Diversity, the national not-for-profit group advancing LGBTI workplace inclusion and the publisher of the Australian Workplace Equality Index. Diversity and inclusion permeates our culture, and we have embedded it in our values and priorities.

We know it has taken a long time for LGBTI+ people across Australia and the world to start to be included. Days like IDAHOBIT Day are important for us to recognise that there is still a lot more to do to champion diversity and inclusion in all its forms. Today is a day for us to remember that we all have a role to play to drive the change necessary to ensure our society and workplaces are equal for all people.