Tag: diversity-and-inclusion

Creating a gender-equal world takes all of us, all the time

Telstra News

Posted on March 6, 2020

5 min read

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #EachforEqual a powerful message to each and every one of us, regardless of gender, that equality is an issue we should be striving to solve.

An equal world is an enabled world

Our individual actions, conversations, behaviours and mindsets can have an impact on our broader community. So if we each work to challenge gender bias and stereotyping, we can collectively help to create a truly gender-equal world. This is a choice and something we need to be conscious of each day.

While International Women’s Day is only once a year, we can each do more in the other 364 days to create a world of fairness and equality. Collectively we can make change happen. Collectively, we can each help to create a gender-equal world. We can all choose to be #EachforEqual.  ​

Our work

Equality is not just a ‘women’s issue’ – it’s a business issue and one we’re committed to tackling at Telstra. We’re doing this in a number of ways:

  • We have clear objectives to increase our female representation at all levels, from the Board to our customer-facing teams.
  • We continue to strive for gender-balanced recruitment shortlists and strong female representation in our talent pipeline.
  • Our Brilliant Connected Women network has thousands of members of all genders who raise awareness at internal events throughout the year.
  • We’ve maintained our commitment to All Roles Flex – it has been five years now and more than 87% of our people report they have the flexibility to balance their work and life.
  • And we’ve implemented a gender-equal and flexible parental leave policy.

But there’s still more to do to be truly inclusive and this is a big focus of my role. I’m committed to searching for new solutions, trying new things and sharing ideas so that we can continue to making changes for the better.

We can challenge gender stereotypes through role modelling and story-telling about people of all genders performing ‘non-traditional’ roles. That’s why we asked three incredible women at Telstra to all share their stories, and what # EachforEqual means to them.

Jenna Colwell

Jenna Colwell

Jenna joined Telstra in 2006 on a broadband helpdesk helping our technicians with line testing and results. Since 2012 she has worked across various field roles. 

When I was working in Workforce Deployment, assigning and monitoring the tasks of our field technicians, I found it so interesting and rewarding to hear the techs’ daily stories. I could sense they really loved their job and were passionate about the customers and each job they attended. To be in the frontline and see the final finished product I thought, “Yes, I’d like to do that”.

I’ve been privileged to experience various areas of Field Service Delivery from lines, data, networks and Wi-Fi, and in 2019 I secured a field-based lead role.

I fiercely believe in the theme for International Women’s Day – #eachforequal. I believe we are all equal, no one is above or below another person no matter your role or position. Individually we are all capable and collectively we can conquer.  Mindsets are shifting, culture is evolving but there is still a way to go. Today I see the rise of females in male-dominated environments and I bloody love it.

I truly believe in our company and its values; women in all areas of our workforce are well supported.

Liz Van Der Peet

Liz Van Der Peet

With an Honours degree in Physics, Liz began her career at Telstra more than 20 years ago and is now a Product Owner for Office 365. 

I learnt early in my career to find my courage and rely on the fact I’d done the work and knew my stuff.

For me, an equal and enabled world is one of universal inclusive solutions we can all use to unlock our potential regardless of wealth, gender identity, ability, age or race.

International Women’s Day is a chance to celebrate women who dare to innovate, uplift those around them, and bring change for the better to the world we work in.

Telstra’s a place where you can spread your wings, learn and figure out what you love to do here. Embrace the opportunity, have the courage to say your piece – it gets easier each time – and find strength and support in those around you!

Laura Buttle

Laura Buttle

As a university student Laura visited our Global Operations Centre (GOC) pictured above; it set her career path.  

I studied a Bachelor of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering and I took all the telecommunications electives. I was accepted into Telstra’s Network Engineering Graduate program and have been here for just over a year.

As a woman coming through the Grad Program I have not been treated any differently to my male colleagues and this is ultimately what equality is all about.

I believe that attitudes and values in companies filter from the top down and I think that it’s because Telstra has consciously put a focus on equality and diversity that there is such an encouraging environment for all young people in the company.

I believe that when men and women are treated equally it brings out the best in all of us, people can only be the best version of themselves when they feel respected and encouraged.

It’s an encouraging environment for people to be themselves and to thrive in their chosen career path.

Important changes to the National Relay Service and CapTel

Telstra News

Posted on January 30, 2020

3 min read

Older couple using a mobile phone in the living room on the couch

If you’re a user of the National Relay Service (NRS), you should know that the way you access the service may change on 1 Feb as the CapTel technology is being switched off.

Important CapTel updates from the Department of Communications can be found online here.

While many telcos and agencies have been preparing for this, there are still some NRS users who have not set up alternative technology. If you, a family or friend uses CapTel to access the NRS, here’s what you need to know.

When and why is CapTel switching off?

In June 2019, the Department of Communication and the Arts announced a new provider for the National Relay Service. The change in provider has meant that proprietary CapTel technology will not work from 1 February 2020.

What are the alternatives?

There are a number of alternative options available to help keep you connected:

  • Handsets with extra loud volume for customers who are hard of hearing – for example, the Uniden SS E47 +1, which offers extra loud volume;
  • Mainstream apps on smartphones or tablets which assist those who are deaf or hard of hearing – for example, the official NRS App, or Skype calls with captions turned on;
  • Teletypewriters – TTYs allow you to send and receive text messages over the telephone network. People with little or no effective speech or hearing can conduct text-to-text conversations with other TTY users, or they can use the National Relay Service to conduct text to voice calls with other users.

If you are a Telstra customer, and you need support or assistance in selecting an alternative option to replace your CapTel phone, please contact us on 1800 068 424.

Why is the National Relay Service important?

The NRS is a government initiative that allows people who are deaf, hard of hearing and/or have a speech impairment to make and receive phone calls.

An effective transition is important because digital communication technologies have become fundamental to daily life for many members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. The Australian Digital Inclusion Index found that members of the community are significantly more likely than the general population to use the internet to do everything from making video calls to purchasing and selling products, contacting government agencies, and engaging with social media.

Our purpose is to build a connected future so everyone can thrive. The word ‘everyone’ speaks to our responsibility to help ensure all Australians can benefit from today’s modern communications technologies.

Stay up to date on important changes by visiting the Department of Communications website.

Giving Indigenous Australians a visual voice with Indigemoji


Posted on December 19, 2019

4 min read

Emoji help us tell our stories in visual ways, and through our Indigenous digital inclusion efforts, we’re working alongside our First Nation’s people to help tell their stories digitally and visually with the “Indigemoji” project.

Graham Wilfred Junior was born with spina bifida in 1983, and his family was told he would never walk on his own. Shifting between various family members in Arnhem Land and foster homes in Darwin, Graham eventually wound up sleeping on the streets of Katherine. But he had a deep inner strength and the innate artistic abilities of his parents, and these led him – along with a great deal of pain and perseverance – to the doors of inDigiMOB in Alice Springs.

This gentle artist is now the driving force behind a vibrant ‘digital arts hub’ at the Alice Springs Public Library, where a group of inDigiMOB mentors, artists and Arrernte speakers are helping hundreds of young Territorians to hone their digital skills.

InDigiMOB is a pioneering digital inclusion project established by First Nations Media Australia and Telstra, which since 2016 has delivered hands-on training to more than 6,000 people through a series of workshops, mentoring, and culturally appropriate digital tools.

The project is currently preparing to roll out ‘Indigemoji’: Australia’s first series of Aboriginal emojis, in partnership with the Alice Springs Public Library, the NT Government, CAYLUS and Ingeous Studios.

The Indigemoji project was developed as part of digital art workshops with members of the Mparntwe/Alice Springs and other remote Australian Indigenous communities. Over seven weeks of workshops, hundreds of emoji designs were developed.

Caddie Brain, a former ABC journalist who co-founded the Indigemoji project, says the digital storytelling skills developed through the Indigemoji project provide new opportunities for preserving the culture and iconography of remote communities – not to mention their threatened languages.

“Many communities around here have only recently got mobile phone coverage and Internet access, so the uptake of technology is still relatively new,” says Caddie. “The new emoji icons are a response to that, enabling people to communicate in a way that’s culturally relevant to them – one small way of decolonising the Internet.”

The striking series of locally-themed ‘emoji stickers’ will be usable in mobile messaging via a free app developed by the Indigenous design agency, Ingeous Studios. The project has brought together a vibrant community of artists, illustrators, Arrernte linguists and young people – all committed to capturing their culture’s essence in a series of hand signals, facial expressions, plants, animals, and other instantly-recognisable facets of local life.

Ben Smede, inDigiMOB’s project manager, says that Indigemoji is designed to give a visual voice to Indigenous Australians.

“This project is a great way to make these symbols more relevant and inclusive for the rapidly growing numbers of Aboriginal people who are communicating through social media,” Ben says.

“Every emoji has an Arrernte name and description” adds Caddie, “and this connection between new technology and ancient Arrernte culture is at the heart of the Indigemoji project.”

Besides this sense of belonging and cultural identity, there are other benefits for the individuals involved that cannot be measured or captured in a simple turn of phrase, including Graham Wilfred Junior.

“Making these emojis takes me far away from my old depression and nightmares,” says Graham. “When I was a teenager living with this disability, I went through times where I wanted to commit suicide. But coming to this place and working with Caddie has been a life-changing experience.

“People see me out and about on my bicycle, and they say ‘Hey, you’re that artist from the library’. It’s so motivating for me – just feeling that I’m helping these young people to build their future.”

The Indigemoji sticker set will be released later on in 2019 as a free app for all.

This article was originally written for Telstra’s All In Accessibility & Inclusion newsletter by Ralph Johnstone.

More free calls and data over Christmas for those in need


Posted on December 18, 2019

3 min read

Christmas is a time for connections. Too often, we take the phone in our pocket, the laptop on our desk or tablet in our bag for granted as a means to reach out to those we love. We’re driven to connect every Australian to the ones they love, especially those in need. This year, we’re not only bringing back our free payphone calls over Christmas, but we’re expanding it for anyone who needs it.

Once again, we’re opening up our payphone network to provide free local, national and standard mobile calls from Telstra payphones around the country. On top of the free calls, we’re also making selected Telstra Air Wi-Fi access points free to anyone during this time.

Free calls and data over Christmas for those in need
Jana Kotatko, Telstra, and Major Brendan Nottle, The Salvation Army

In previous years, we had opened our payphones from December 24-26, but this year we’re extending the time Aussies can take advantage of the free calls. We’ll be opening our payphone network up from December 24 – 1 January 2020 inclusive.

Last year, over 120,000 calls were placed during the period. Meanwhile, over 23,000 users connected to our Telstra Air hotspots over the period, with 3.55 terabytes transferred in total. We’re proud to expand the window this year to ensure more people can connect than ever before.

We’re driven to ensure that those who are separated from their families by circumstance, or even those who want to reconnect for the first time in a long time are given every opportunity on our network. Christmas is a time where feelings of isolation and loneliness can be at their peak, so we want to bring families closer together with a simple phone call, text or video call.

Image: Herald Sun

“We know it’s some of the most vulnerable members of our community who’ll benefit most and we hope they can take this opportunity to reach out and reconnect with their loved ones over Christmas,” said Major Brendan Nottle, The Salvation Army.

“A simple phone call could make all the difference this Christmas and help reconnect Australians doing it tough with their loved ones or long-lost family or friends.”

We’ll be spreading the word about this offer far and wide in the lead-up to Christmas so we can be sure those in need know that a friendly voice is just one free call away.

Nothing beats the sound of hearing a loved one’s voice, especially at a time like Christmas when a focus on families coming together is really heightened. It’s an important opportunity for those in the community who might be feeling isolated at this time, and we hope that even more Australians take up the opportunity to connect with their loved ones this year.

Things you need to know:

Free calls around Australia to local, national and standard mobiles from Telstra payphones from 24 December 2019 – 1 January 2020 inclusive. Free calls exclude international calls and premium services (19x), Mobile Satellite, and 1234, 12456 directory services. Excludes Telstra rented payphones. Free Wi-Fi data at select Telstra Air payphones and Telstra Stores, in Australia only. Telstra Air available for Wi-Fi enabled devices only.

Images: Herald Sun

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.