Female hospital patient with digital tablet, smiling
Telstra News |

We’re donating tablets to NSW hospitals

By Michael Ackland October 18, 2021

With many elderly and vulnerable patients across New South Wales isolated by COVID-19 restrictions, we are donating 135 tablets to help them keep in touch with loved ones and doctors.

Working with our partners at Samsung, we are rolling out Samsung Galaxy Tab Active Pro tablets to 13 Sydney and regional hospitals as well as several regional health departments across New South Wales to help patients make video and voice calls.

Working together, we were able to secure and send out devices quickly, with many of them already in the hands of those who need them.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab Active Pro is a great device and has been specially chosen because of its rugged design that makes it possible to appropriately sanitise the devices between patients, which can help to minimise the risk of spreading infection inside wards.

Tablets will be given to patients being treated in hospital or who are isolating in health accommodation or at home and who don’t have the easiest access to technology. They say laughter is the best medicine – so being able to chat and joke around with loved ones will hopefully lift spirits for patients that are alone.

As well as keeping in touch with loved ones, the tablets can also be used for telehealth services or entertainment for isolating children.

We know how important it is for patients in hospitals to keep connected with family and friends while they’re in hospital receiving treatment or in isolation – and how tough it is for loved ones who want to stay in touch.

This is the second program of its kind that we have done recently, with a similar donation to Victorian hospitals last year, which is still helping patients keep connected with their loved ones today.

The cost of the devices is being covered by Telstra and Samsung Australia and the connection to the Telstra mobile network is being covered by Telstra. The partnership will bolster NSW Health’s existing suite of existing devices.

The following hospitals will be receiving devices:

  • Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
  • Concord Repatriation General Hospital
  • Westmead Hospital
  • Liverpool Hospital
  • Campbelltown Hospial
  • Wollongong Hospital
  • St Vincents Hospital
  • St George Hospital
  • Nepean Hospital
  • Bankstown Hospital
  • Camden Hospital
  • Fairfield Hospital
Telstra News |

Embracing the future with bold leadership, courage and compassion

By Andrew Penn October 15, 2021

Clear and bold leadership

Recently at Telstra we announced a new strategy, T25, setting out bold aspirations. We were very specific on our strategic objectives and the targets we aspire to achieve.

At a time when many companies are becoming more conservative and less definitive regarding their strategic direction and financial guidance, we did the opposite. That’s because we believe that when the future seems the most unclear as it does today, that’s when people need a strong sense of direction. Our job as leaders is to provide that, even when we are uncertain ourselves.

Confronting reality

As a nation as we near our vaccination targets and see the green shoots of re-opening, we need to create a sense of confidence that we are committed to and prepared for this next stage. We need to talk courageously about what the reality of living with COVID permanently and more prevalently in our society means.

We need to show that we are building the resilience we will need. This will build confidence that we are prepared for this future.

People are not naïve. They know there are no guarantees and there will be challenges ahead. What they expect to see however, is a sense of confidence, a sense of direction, something to reassure them we are committed to the path forward.

This week those in NSW are celebrating some renewed freedoms – and rightfully so. Hopefully it will be a milestone all Australians experience soon. There is still confusion and uncertainty across states, with differing timeframes and restrictions. That is why unity is so important. Many of us operate national businesses that need to provide critical services to customers across borders.

And we can’t expect government to do all the heavy lifting – business and community leaders have a role too. That’s why Telstra is incentivising our teams and customers to be vaccinated.

Showing compassion and tolerance

We are also requiring our teams in NSW and Victoria before they return to the office and our frontline teams in roles nationally where they come in regular contact with customers and colleagues, to be fully vaccinated. Their safety and wellbeing and that of our customers and the communities we serve is our highest priority.

I know not everyone agrees with our approach and I respect alternative points of view. I also know that it will be our frontline teams that will bear the brunt of any tension and aggression that can sometimes go with alternative views.

We are doing the right thing by our people and customers in requiring vaccinations and we are following the advice of government by allowing only vaccinated people into our NSW stores until December. We trust our people will be shown compassion and tolerance when simply doing their jobs and following the rules.

A time for hope

As the end of 2021 comes sharply into view, we sit on the cusp of an incredibly important inflection point. The point at which we will start to see the majority of COVID related restrictions behind us and a time at which we need to accept COVID will be a permanent feature of our society, at least for the foreseeable future.

It’s a time for clear leadership, for courage and compassion – not just from governments but business and community leaders too, so we can together create a sense of hope and some light at the end of what has been a long and dark tunnel.

Telstra News |

Finding our #hope in COVID

By Andrew Penn September 2, 2021

Today at Telstra we announced a range of incentives for our customers to be vaccinated and a care package to support them while they are in lockdown. This is in addition to incentives we announced two weeks ago for our people. It’s important that as a business leader I do everything I can to encourage our customers and the Telstra team to get vaccinated – to keep ourselves and others safe and to give them hope that there is a pathway out of the severe lockdowns so many of us are facing.

As COVID restrictions grind on, I’m seeing a loss of hope across the 50,000 people that make up the team at Telstra, I am seeing a loss of hope with my friends and my family – a loss of optimism, an erosion of confidence. Each of us has our own stories of how COVID has impacted us personally.

A few months ago, and shortly after her 60th wedding anniversary, I lost my mum in the UK. Like many others, I had to farewell her over Zoom thousands of miles away and I have not been able to get back since to give my dad the hug we both so desperately need. My sister-in-law has been in and out of intensive care with COVID in the US and I have lost count of the number of times my daughter, who works in hospitality, has either lost her job or been stood down. These experiences will shape us for the rest of our lives – we need to make sure they do not become our lives.

As the CEO of Telstra, I am very used to receiving advice, invited or not, on how I should do my job! I get it every day, but I have made it my business to not do the same to others in leadership positions and I know I am no health expert. However, I do know the challenge of balancing conflicting priorities in complex situations, of responding to many and varied stakeholders, and changing opinions.

I also know, as leaders we have a role to play in providing hope and never before have I seen the need for that hope more so than I see it today. The Scottish author and editor Alexander Chalmers wrote in the age of enlightenment, “The three grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, someone to love and something to look forward to”. At the moment, it’s very hard for people to find something to look forward to. We’ve got to change that and give people hope, but how?

An authentic conversation

I think the bottom line is people do not trust that even when we get vaccination rates to 70-80%, restrictions will be lifted in a meaningful way and that domestic and international travel will remain very challenging. Moreover, if that’s so, what is the end point, where is the light at the end of the tunnel and exactly how long is that tunnel?

To address this, we need to find the courage to be authentic about the issues holding us back. We need to talk more openly about what it means to live with COVID in our society without restrictions, including accepting infection rates will increase and health systems will come under pressure. Not fear these realities but come to terms with them and focus our efforts and communications on the strategies to manage and mitigate the consequences of them, as hard as they may be.

Australians have the strength of character to understand the reality of this pandemic – the human spirit can overcome just about anything when we are forced to confront it. So, let’s not hide from it, or run from it, let’s be authentic and face it head on and in so doing we will create the confidence that there is a path forward and give our people the hope that we will get through this and emerge stronger.

Balance the narrative

We need to move from a focus on the problems to the solutions and we need to have the courage to work out what is preventing us from opening up. If it’s our health systems, how do we come together and find solutions? What can business do, what can government do, what can community leaders do? How do we come together and work collectively with an eye to the solution and not just the problem? Without the courage to have these types of conversations and be open about where we don’t yet have answers, we risk a further erosion of trust and hope.

We need to better balance the focus of the narrative from what the problem is and why we need restrictions to how we get out of them and some of the realities we will have to face in so doing.

Let’s unite as leaders

And that is why a national plan is also so important, we need to align behind it in a nonpartisan way. I know there are differing views but now is the time to work through those views and commit to a plan that works going forward. And we can’t rely on just the government to do all the heavy lifting – business and community leaders have a role to play too and that is why we at Telstra are making the announcements we are making today, and made two weeks ago, with more to come.

I have no doubt some of the things we will collectively try won’t work or could be done better but let’s not persecute people for trying. These are unprecedented times and unprecedented events, at least in my lifetime.


Against a drum beat of daily COVID case numbers and lockdowns, we also need to be cognisant about the mental health crisis so we can properly mitigate that toll too. We need to address the impact on remote indigenous communities and how we keep them safe. We need to consider the many other health conditions that are now not getting diagnosed or properly treated. We need to support the next generation and how we educate and train them for the future workforce when they’re learning has been so disrupted.

We need to focus on rebuilding hope and the sooner we do the better and that’s something in which we can all play a role.

Telstra News |

#LetsVaxx: our plan to reward customers

By Andrew Penn September 2, 2021

Restrictions have been part of our daily lives for far longer than I think any of us ever expected. It can be tough to feel that we’re not in control of the situation as individuals, but Australians have shown time and time again that we are capable of great things when we unite.

We need urgent action to get COVID under control, and that involves all of us coming together to get vaccinated. Doing this will make an incredible difference – it will help to protect each other, lessen the financial hardship on families, and reduce the toll on our wellbeing caused by the uncertainty and isolation from rolling lockdowns.

As a company, we can play a bigger role to encourage others to get the vaccine, and make that jab in the arm even more worthwhile.

To help out, we will be rewarding those who roll up their sleeves, and encouraging everyone to get vaccinated for the good of the nation.

Rewards for the vaccinated

If you have had your jab, we will also be giving your Telstra Plus points balance a shot in the arm.

From late September, fully vaccinated members of our Telstra Plus loyalty program will receive a bonus of 2,500 Telstra Plus points.

When claiming their points, fully jabbed members will also go into a 100 million point major prize draw, with 20 winners to receive five million Telstra Plus points each, as well as up to $3500 credit to help cover the cost of their eligible Telstra services for a year.

If you are not yet a member of Telstra Plus, you can join and access the 2,500 Telstra Plus point bonus before the end of January next year. Eligibility criteria apply.

For those who are already vaccinated, these offers are a thank you from us. For those who are yet to, we want to make that jab even more rewarding.

Keeping you going in lockdown

To help ease the burden and boredom of lockdowns, all our Telstra Plus members, regardless of their vaccination status, can soon claim a digital care package that includes a Telstra TV Box Office movie on us, discounts on a food delivery service and access to discounts in the Telstra Plus Rewards store.

This builds on the success we have had with our employee incentive program, with those who get fully vaccinated receiving the equivalent of $200 that can be redeemed through our employee rewards program. More than 5,500 people took up this offer in the first week alone.

Communicating loud and clear

We want every eligible Australian to remember to get vaccinated as soon as they can. That’s why, from today, when you look in the top corner of your iPhone where it used to say Telstra, it will now read Telstra #LetsVaxx. This message may take a little while to appear on your phone, but you can speed up the process by turning Airplane mode on and off.

And it’s not the first time we have changed our name during the pandemic. In March last year, we changed the network name to Telstra #StayHome. As the nation moved in and out of lockdown, and health guidance changed, we updated it to Telstra #StaySafe.

You are also going to see a new episode in our 5G Chief Investigator series, from our friend, Mark Humphries.

Mark’s sharp satire successfully busted conspiracy theories around 5G and now we are calling on him to help cut through the noise and debunk some of the COVID vaccination myths.

We know some of our customers may not choose to or be able to get vaccinated, but the results of our employee offer have shown there’s a groundswell of support and understanding that increasing the vaccination rate is our best way forward – and we feel it’s important to spread that message.

The endgame – creating a sense of hope

There’s no doubt that lockdowns have meant people are relying on our services more than ever before but we all know there’s nothing like coming together as a family to celebrate a birthday or catching up with friends in person.

To make sure we can do this, I believe all leaders can play a role by uniting behind an aligned approach to a pathway out. One that moves us beyond the problems preventing us from opening up, and instead focuses on the solutions.

We absolutely need a sense of hope right now and some light at the end of what has been a long, dark tunnel.