Friends having coffee
Loneliness |

Reducing loneliness around Christmas time

By Major Brendan Nottle December 23, 2021

For a lot of people, Christmas is a wonderful time of year where we get to connect, share delicious food and spend quality time with the ones we love and care about most. However, for many others it can feel like the loneliest time of year. In fact, according to Telstra’s research, 3 in 4 Australians have admitted to feeling lonely over the holiday period*.

Everywhere you look, there are exciting gifts to buy, loving families enjoying time with each other and ideas to create the perfect Christmas Day feast. It can be really exciting, but for someone who doesn’t have a close relationship with family or the resources to give someone a gift, it can be an awful reminder of what you don’t have and what is being missed out on.

Those reminders can feel incredibly isolating.

Kindness is the antidote to loneliness

We all have our own stories, problems and daily challenges – challenges that are often hidden below the surface from anyone to see. At the core of making people feel more connected, remembering this and showing kindness can go a long way to making someone feel valued and less isolated. Something that was profoundly reinforced for me very recently.

We’ve got a program here in Melbourne, where we go out and see if we can help anyone overnight. It was two o’clock on a Saturday morning, we were driving down Elizabeth Street in Melbourne, and there was a body on the train tracks. We pulled over; it was a young woman in her early 20s and she was lying on the train track, saying “just leave me alone.”

So my colleague rang triple O, and was trying to arrange an ambulance. I ended up sitting on the train tracks with this young woman. And she just kept saying “no one cares, I’ve got no one, I’m just very lonely.”

A garbage truck driver who was driving past then stopped and came over to look at what was happening. He then crouched down and spoke really gently to the young woman and he just said: ‘People care. You just don’t know that they do. And these guys here just want to help you so any assistance they offer you, you just need to accept it. You’re going to get through this you’re going to be okay.’ He got back in the truck and drove off and then this young woman calmed down and we were able to get her off the train tracks and to some help.

Everyone can show kindness to others, you don’t need to be trained, educated or experienced. It can be as simple as showing a smile, stopping for a moment to talk or helping someone you come across in need. Life can be busy but showing a few minutes of kindness to someone can mean much more than you realise.

What you can do if you’re feeling isolated

In the same way that helping others can make them feel less isolated, it can actually make you feel more connected by doing so too.

That feeling can be quite profound. If you’re feeling lonely, it’s important to be looking for opportunities where you might be able to reach out to support somebody else. We have a philosophy at the Salvation Army that says “the best way to help yourself is to help others”.

We run many programs across each state in Australia around Christmas time and help from volunteers is always needed.

It can also be much simpler than that – you’ll find that even something as simple as buying someone a cup of coffee can make you feel more connected.

On Christmas Day, if you’re worried you might not have anyone to spend time with, we also have our annual Christmas Day lunches. You’ll meet new people, eat some delicious food and be able to experience a wonderful time together.

We can all play a part in helping people feel more connected over the holiday period – keep a look out for people within your community or network that might be struggling during this time and reach out. It may only take a minute of their time but it can make a huge difference.

For more tips on dealing with loneliness for yourself or others, visit our loneliness hub.

If you need help, mental health support services are available through:

  • Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
  • Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800

*Telstra research conducted by YouGov in November – December 2021

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
Loneliness |

You are not meant to feel alone

By Andrew Penn October 7, 2021

Loneliness impacts us all. You may not have experienced it yourself, but someone close to you has, is, or will at some time in their life will feel lonely.

No two people’s experience with loneliness will be the same. It can be wanting to feel understood – to be heard, to not be ignored. It can mean feeling alone even when surrounded by people. It can be having no one to turn to when you need it most.

It has no boundaries – it crosses generations, sex, religion, race, gender, income, family status, jobs. And while it was a significant societal issue before COVID hit, we know it has gotten worse through the pandemic.

We also know feeling connected – to someone or something – can help protect against loneliness. But we are all more connected than ever, so we also know it’s not that simple. And often the very connectivity we crave and surround ourselves with every day is the thing that can make us feel isolated.

That’s why we’re taking steps to draw the issue out. To start a conversation. As a company with connectivity at the core of our purpose, we are shining a light on loneliness and what can be done to turn things around.

To put the issue in perspective, our Talking Loneliness report showed 44% of Australians regularly feel lonely. 27% of us felt it for the first time during COVID. Nine out of ten of us have experienced loneliness at some time.

And the real kicker – half of us are too embarrassed to admit it.

That means it’s more than likely that someone close to you could be struggling with it. It could be your brother, neighbour or workmate and you may never know. That’s why we want to challenge the preconceptions about who might be lonely and to encourage Australians to find a sense of connection through their shared experience.

We believe companies like Telstra can play an important role in starting conversations about issues that matter to our employees and the community.

We’ve been connecting people through telecommunications for more than 100 years but our purpose here is broader. We believe everyone deserves to feel connected. Our call to action for Australians to start talking about loneliness is one way we can bring focus to this growing issue.

Everyone’s loneliness has a story

We spoke to a diverse group of Australians across all age groups about their experiences with loneliness. I want to thank them for being brave enough to share their stories.

Each story stuck with me, as I am certain it will stick with you. Their stories remind me of people I know, and even emotions I have felt during the last 18 months.

I recently shared that I lost my mother in the last year and since her passing, I have not been able to return home to the UK to see my father and connect face-to-face. 

My father lost his wife of 60 years. Prior to her death it was difficult to engage with my mother given the nature of her illness. We have regular calls and video chats, of course, but watching him come to terms with her illness and then life alone is incredibly difficult and, now, like anybody with an elderly parent living by themselves, I’m worried he is lonely.

The simple ability to connect with him at any time, night or day, on good days and bad, is incredibly precious to us both.

As those in our video series have shown, sharing is powerful, and the first step to tackling the loneliness epidemic.

What we are doing next

Right now, Telstra team members have an annual volunteer day to help worthy causes in their local community. We’ll now be encouraging them to direct this time to help address loneliness.

With the Telstra Connection Day, we will incentivise our eligible team members who have access to an annual volunteer leave day to dedicate their time to third-party programs that support lonely people in their community and help build real connections.

Making an impact on loneliness can start with small steps. We have engaged Dr Michelle Lim, a loneliness expert, to provide advice on how to establish or maintain connections if you or someone around you may be lonely.

Loneliness is a problem we can face together. By reaching out. By asking questions. By connecting. Because when we have the courage to start sharing, we’ll discover we are not alone.

For more on loneliness, visit telstra.com/loneliness.

If you need help, mental health support services are available through:

Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636
Lifeline – 13 11 14
Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800

Loneliness |

8 uplifting movies and TV shows to watch when you’re feeling lonely

By Ryan Dunn October 7, 2021

It isn’t uncommon to feel lonely: did you know that loneliness regularly affects four in 10 Aussies? If you are feeling lonely, you might be in need of a pick-me-up. We’ve got loads of recommendations for what to watch to help you through.

Friends

Where to watch: BINGE | Foxtel Now | Netflix | 10 play

When you’re feeling alone, a great easy-watching sitcom can be like a big warm hug – and this iconic fan-favourite is at the very top of our list. Get wrapped up in the wacky yet somehow relatable lives of New York City neighbours Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Ross and Chandler as they wade into all manner of hilarious situations and conversations, all while supporting each other through the good times and the rough patches. With 236 episodes to stream over ten seasons, you’ve got plenty of time to get properly acquainted (or reacquainted) with these incredibly likable, comforting characters.

Also recommended: Cheers, The Golden Girls, Kim’s Convenience, Frasier, The Nanny.

WALL-E

Where to watch: Disney+ | Telstra TV Box Office

Disney and Pixar are the masters when it comes to crafting emotionally layered stories that help you focus on the big picture while making your heart burst with joy. And WALL-E is one such masterpiece. In a future where humans have left the Earth behind, one lonely little garbage-collecting robot remains – whiling away his days sifting through the leftover rubbish and keeping the things he finds interesting. But when another robot, EVE, is sent to locate signs of life, WALL-E falls in love – setting off an intergalactic adventure that could ultimately save the future of humanity.

Also recommended: UP, Onward, Inside Out, Toy Story.

Stranger Things

Where to watch: Netflix

If you’ve ever found yourself longing for better times gone by, then you’re not alone. There’s something magical about nostalgia – and particularly movies and TV shows that evoke nostalgia – that can help us feel less isolated, reminding us of less complicated times and enduring childhood friendships. Set in the 1980s, Stranger Things offers this up in spades – following a group of suburban teenage besties as they hop on their BMX bikes and band together to uncover the mystery of their missing friend Will… and the appearance of a strange new girl in town.

Also recommended: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Goonies, Gremlins, Jumanji.

Bridesmaids

Where to watch: Telstra TV Box Office | Stan | BINGE | Foxtel Now | Amazon Prime Video

Sometimes you just need a good out-loud belly laugh to lift your spirits and buddy comedies like Bridesmaids are perfectly engineered to deliver. Told from the perspective of its sympathetic protagonist Annie, who is down on her luck but refuses to be defeated no matter what, the film shows the lengths a best friend is willing to go to prove her devotion. And even though things go hilariously wrong at every conceivable turn, she doesn’t give up striving to plan the perfect wedding and hens party for her friend and fellow bridesmaids.

Also recommended: The Hangover, Space Jam, Mean Girls, Superbad, Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar.

Mr. Bean

Where to watch: BritBox | 7plus | Amazon Prime Video | BINGE

Words often aren’t enough to accurately express how we feel – and so there’s something heartwarmingly soothing about seeing the world through the speechlessly stumbling interactions of Mr Bean. While he’s a bit of a loner, Mr Bean seems to rather enjoy his own company. And when an obstacle gets in his way, he’s often shown to be quite proud of how clever he is at overcoming it – even if, as an audience, his unconventional methods result in fits of riotous laughter.

Also recommended: Absolutely Fabulous, Fawlty Towers, Keeping Up Appearances, The Vicar of Dibley.

Grease

Where to watch: Paramount+ | Telstra TV Box Office | Amazon Prime Video | Stan

It’s almost impossible not to enjoy yourself when you’re watching a musical extravaganza like Grease. Packed with toe-tapping tunes we all know so well, performed by a superstar ensemble cast, the film follows the unlikely love story between bad-boy Danny and wholesome Sandy amongst a cast of high school misfits during the 1950s. And with moves that are easy to learn, you’ll be dancing and singing around your living room in no time.

Also recommended: Hairspray, Footloose, Sister Act, The Sound of Music.

Parks and Recreation

Where to watch: Stan | Amazon Prime Video | BINGE | Foxtel Now | Netflix

“Treat yo’ self” to the infectiously optimistic vibes of city councillor Leslie Knope, in this charming workplace comedy with a heart of gold. With hopes of one day becoming the first female president, Knope is intent on making the world a better place for everyone – starting with the parks department of Pawnee, Indiana. Navigating frustrating bureaucracy, unhelpful colleagues and ungrateful residents, she never wavers in her commitment to getting the job done with a smile on her face.

Also recommended: The Good Place, Modern Family, The Office, The Big Bang Theory.

The Wizard of Oz

Where to watch: Telstra TV Box Office

One of the most powerful films you can watch to improve your mindset is the timeless classic, The Wizard of Oz. Following young girl Dorothy as she and her dog Toto are caught in a tornado and transplanted from their Kansas farm into the fantastical world of Oz, she’s convinced her only way home is to meet the Wizard. But along with fellow Yellow Brick Road travellers Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion, she learns important life lessons about facing your fears, accepting change and looking within to find what you need to succeed.

Also recommended: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, Aladdin.

Find out more about the new Telstra TV and discover more of what you love.

If you need help, mental health support services are available through:

Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636
Lifeline – 13 11 14
Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800

Requires a compatible TV with HDMI port. A minimum internet speed of 3.5mbps is recommended. Antenna required to access free to air channels in your area. Subscription and data charges apply. Search not available across all apps.

Loneliness |

Music and podcast apps to help you feel more connected

By Ryan Dunn October 7, 2021

Listen up! If you find yourself feeling a little isolated right now, why not try incorporating some more music, radio and podcast listening into your day. Here are some of our tips for how you can connect and why it can help lift your spirits.

If you’re here because you’re feeling lonely, that’s no surprise to us. It’s a very common experience. One factor that can hugely contribute to loneliness is physical isolation – whether that’s from your family and friends, from your workmates, or from the “tyranny of distance”. And this year, we’ve been more physically isolated from each other than ever before.

As humans, we feel better when we’re able to connect closely with others and share experiences that bring us closer together. That doesn’t have to be in person, though – you can get that sense of connection from listening to a podcast about a topic you love, or watching a live concert from a band you know. To that end, we’ve got a few suggestions for music, podcasts and performances to lift your mood.

Spotify: Music and podcasts

Whether you’re waking up or singing in the shower to some upbeat tunes, getting through your workday with a motivational playlist or sweating it out to your favourite throwback tracks, music has a unique ability to elevate our mood and even trigger feelings of social connection. And with today’s music streaming apps like Spotify, that sense of connection – even when listening on your own – is further amplified by in-built social features such as playlist subscriptions (basically the modern equivalent to sharing your own mix tape with millions of other users), collaborative playlists and even group sessions allowing you to listen together with friends and family in real time, no matter how far apart you might be right now.

Another great way to boost that feeling of social closeness is listening to podcasts – basically, talk radio for the 21st century. Perfect for your morning stroll, while driving in the car or when winding down for bed, there are podcasts on a virtually limitless number of topics – many of them particularly amusing, entertaining and informative. Hosted by all manner of celebrities, journalists, comedians and average everyday people, their conversational tone and episodic format makes them feel like a regular catch-up with friends who just happen to share all of your interests.

Available on: iOS | Android | Windows | Mac | Smart speakers | Telstra TV

iHeartRadio: Live radio stations, news and podcasts

The great thing about good old-fashioned radio is that everyone listening is hearing the same thing, at the same time. But what if you don’t have a “wireless” handy to tune in? No problem! With the modern marvel of internet connected devices, you can now listen to traditional over-the-air radio stations on the go with the iHeartRadio app on your mobile phone or tablet, and at home on your Google or Alexa smart speakers as well as on Telstra TV.

Stream thousands of live radio stations from across Australia, New Zealand and the US, with everything from Top 40 pop, through to rock, dance, country, golden oldies, kids, classical, and more – as well as news, sport and talk radio to keep you up-to-date on everything going on in the world. And with many of your favourite podcasts also available within the app, iHeartRadio is a great way to stay connected with the things you enjoy listening to.

Available on: iOS | Android | Smart speakers | Telstra TV

Vevo: Music videos and live performances

For many fans out there, the music is just part of what we connect with when it comes to our favourite musicians. Music videos and live performances also play an important role in helping artists share with us their overall creative vision – one that helps us as fans further connect with them emotionally, and socially with other like-minded followers. Whenever a new music video or live performance is published, users across social networks spring to life, ready to discuss the details, meaning and artistry that has gone into the work – and defend the choices the artist has made to any critics who might emerge. The Vevo app provides users of streaming TV devices, such as Telstra TV, a great way to devour this immense creativity on the largest screens in our home – filling our living rooms and bedrooms with gloriously high-definition visuals to accompany the music we love.

Available on: Telstra TV

Live concert films and stage shows

If you’re missing the buzz and excitement of attending live gigs, then there are plenty of concert films you can stream from the comfort of your couch on Telstra TV – with recorded shows from Beyonce, Shawn Mendes, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen and more on Netflix; Jennifer Lopez and Pink Floyd on Telstra TV Box Office; Jonas Brothers, Alanis Morissette, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles and Phil Collins on Amazon Prime Video; Midnight Oil and Crowded House on Stan; and Madonna’s Madame X Tour coming to Paramount+ from 8 October.

And for the theatre-goers among us, you can stream the Tony award-winning smash hit Hamilton on Disney+; current Broadway show Diana The Musical on Netflix from 1 October; Billy Elliot, Les Miserables and Miss Saigon on Telstra TV Box Office; the National Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet on ABC iview until 23 October, as well as a number of Australian Ballet productions on ABC iview.

If you need help, mental health support services are available through:

Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636
Lifeline – 13 11 14
Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800

Telstra TV: Requires a compatible TV with HDMI port. A minimum internet speed of 3.5mbps is recommended. Antenna required to access free to air channels in your area. Subscription and data charges apply. Search not available across all apps.