ACCAN (the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network) has launched a campaign that can make a difference to the lives of young people.
In 2010 ACCAN, AFCCRA and ACOSS worked together to highlight the difficulty consumers have when calling important 1800,1300 and 13 numbers from mobile phones.
ACCAN has launched phase two of the campaign: Fair Calls For All. Number Woman is Australia’s newest superhero. She wants to work with telcos so that 1800 freephone and 1300/13 local-rate numbers will be charged at the same rate from landlines and mobile phones.
A freephone number begins with ‘18’ or ‘1800’ and they are free to call from a landline. A local-rate number begins with ’13’ or ‘1300’. These calls cost the same as an untimed local call, about 30 cents, from a landline. The primary cost for these calls is covered by the business or organisation you are calling. Mobile calls to freephone and local-rate numbers are charged at a rate set by your service provider. These numbers are used by government agencies, social services, charities, utilities, banks and local businesses.
ACCAN has issued a publication about this issue that explains how the telcos can put in place a solution that works for consumers and businesses who use these numbers. Read the full Fair Calls For All PDF or download the plain-text version from our website.
Why does this matter to young people and youth workers?
Young people are not only more likely to rely on their mobile phone, they’re increasingly less likely to have any access to a landline. They are part of the growing group of Australians, 10%, who are mobile-only. This problem disproportionally affects vulnerable young people such as homeless youth, young mothers who need to contact support services or young students who need to call Centrelink to claim youth allowance.
· Encourage Telstra, Optus and Vodafone to work towards a fair charging system for 1800, 1300 and 13 calls from mobiles. Email the telcos asking them to provide Fair Calls For All.
· You can follow Number Woman on twitter or read her blog: http://numberwoman.tumblr.com/
· Go to www.accan.org.au/numberwoman if your organisation would like to formally support Fair Calls For All
Mobile phone usage is on the rise and the use of landline phones in Australia is decreasing – more than 10% of people no longer have a landline. Every mobile customer is affected but unfortunately charging people for ‘freecalls’ on mobile phones is disadvantaging those who can least afford it, as this group are least likely to have access to a landline.
Students who live in share houses without a landline will have difficulty calling Centrelink for their Youth Allowance. Young people in rural areas without mental health support systems will have difficulty calling Kids Helpline on their mobile – and a 40-minute counselling call isn’t something you want to make from your landline while mum and dad are around.Women affected by domestic violence are unlikely to have a safe and private space in their own homes in order to contact the 1800 numbers for services that can provide them with emergency accommodation and support. We all need to contact our banks, utility providers, telcos, government agencies and businesses all the time – it’s time these charges were fair for all.
There are many instances where we need a Fair Call – tell ACCAN your thoughts and share your story with us online.