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Optus supports regrowth of regional Australia after the bushfires with new Optus Green Shoots grant

Optus supports regrowth of regional Australia after the bushfires  with new Optus Green Shoots grants program

As Australia continues to recover from the recent devasting bushfires, Optus is proud to announce a grants program to help re-establish connectivity within regional Australia particularly through supporting small businesses affected by bushfires.

Optus Chief Executive Allen Lew said Optus is supporting impacted businesses to get back on their feet through a small business grant program which will be called ‘Green Shoots’.

“Many regional towns have been affected by the bushfires and it will take significant time and resources for the affected small businesses and communities to rebuild and bounce back.

“We are focused on rebuilding and reconnecting the engine room of the Australian economy – small business – in bushfire affected regions.”

Mr Lew said throughout the bushfires Optus had been working tirelessly to maintain service and quickly restore tower outages, working collaboratively with local governments and agencies, and supplementing services with satellite and mobile small cells where sites were damaged by fires.

Optus CEO Designate, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin said that green shoots were the first sign of regrowth and Optus would provide small businesses and communities a boost by re-establishing and supporting their ability to get back online and reconnect with their communities.

“All of us at Optus want to inspire optimism in regional Australia and give the impacted communities hope and belief for the future. That’s why we will be supporting small businesses, the driving forces of growth within the rebuilding regional economies.”

Optus will make grants available through the Green Shoots program during 2020, beginning from 17 February. The Green Shoots program will comprise 2,000 grants and will include:

  • A technology pack which includes one complimentary tablet and up to two years Optus mobile plan and/or fixed internet service*

  • Making available our dedicated tech support team based in Australia for small businesses

  • Optus to extend its staff volunteer programme to enable its staff to support small businesses affected by the bushfires to get back on their feet

Optus will publish eligibility, selection criteria and details about volunteer support on our website from February 17, including details about how to apply for the grant.

Optus is asking small businesses affected by the bushfires to contact Optus via www.optus.com.au/bushfiresupport

Mr Lew said the Green Shoots program is one of a number of initiatives Optus has implemented to reconnect and assist its customers.

"We understand that customers and communities need evolving support and assistance so Green Shoots has been designed to complement a range of initiatives for those in need.”

Customer support

Optus has activated its financial assistance policy for customers affected by the bushfires, which may include:

  • Free call diversions from an Optus fixed home phone to any mobile or fixed number

  • Extended timeframes for bill payments

  • Bill waivers in instances of extreme financial hardship

  • Free suspension, relocation or cancellation of an Optus fixed service; and

  • Free prepaid recharges for eligible impacted customers

In addition, given the spike in internet usage, Optus has also provided unmetered access to a range of emergency services websites for customers in bushfire affected areas to ensure customers can access the information they need, without exceeding their plan data caps.

Optus staff have been providing on-the-ground support in bushfire affected zones including visiting evacuation centres and enhancing network experience with charging stations, pre-paid SIMs, satellite and mobile phone access, and other support as needed. Optus is also matching donations dollar-for-dollar in our employee bushfire appeal.

Volunteer Firefighter and SES support

Optus also announced it would cover the costs of volunteer firefighters’ and SES volunteers’ mobile services for December and January to show appreciation for the efforts of volunteer firefighters protecting communities around Australia.