Technology for social justice
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No credit, no problem. Homeless help now free of data charges

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Mobile phone credit is no longer standing in the way of people who are homeless with a Telstra phone trying to find help.

Australia’s largest telecommunications company is now providing free access to Ask Izzy, the mobile website that connects people who are homeless or at risk to over 350 000 services nation-wide, for anyone on the Telstra network.

Announced today, the event marks 10 months since Ask Izzy has been providing free and anonymous access to essential services like accommodation, food and blankets.

“Ask Izzy provides a vital solution for the many Australians who find themselves homeless each night, connecting them with the essential services they need, from shelter to healthcare,” Telstra CEO, Andrew Penn, says.

“We want to ensure that Australians can access this support at their time of need which is why we’re pleased to announce free, unmetered access to Ask Izzy on the Telstra network.”

Infoxchange CEO, David Spriggs, says the contribution of Telstra in the fight to end homelessness is significant.

“Almost 80 percent of people who are homeless own a smartphone. They are often on prepaid plans, but without credit to search for services they need,” David says.

“Before today’s announcement, they had to find free wifi to access Ask Izzy.

“Telstra has removed a significant barrier for the 1 in 200 people who are homeless each night to access help, the importance of which cannot be understated.

“We’re delighted to have Telstra support the Ask Izzy project, which is underpinned by a coalition of community, government, corporate and academic partners.”

Ask Izzy was launched in January by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and founding partners Infoxchange, Google, realestate.com.au and News Corp Australia. Over 250 000 searches for services have been made on the site so far.

The Telstra development comes just weeks after an additional $500 000 was announced by Google to fund the Ask Izzy open data platform, which will map service demand.

“The top three searches on Ask Izzy are accommodation, food and everyday things like blankets and showers,” David says.

“We hope free access to Ask Izzy on Telstra’s extensive regional and metropolitan network will encourage more people to seek help.

“This will provide important data that can help us improve the delivery of services for people who are homeless or at risk into the future.”

Ask Izzy was developed by Infoxchange in partnership with Google, realestate.com.au and News Corp Australia. It was co-designed with people with lived experience of homelessness, and the frontline workers who support them.

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David Spriggs, Andy Penn and Penny Fowler. Credit: News Corp Australia/John Feder

Supporting quotes:

"The take-up of Ask Izzy has far exceeded all our expectations since it was launched earlier this year, which underscores the fact that even people in need use technology - and many of them rely on their mobile phones." - Jason Pelligrino, Managing Director, Google Australia and New Zealand

"We are delighted that Telstra is supporting Ask Izzy and making the site accessible to Australians in need. This is the first time Telstra has made a site meter free for social good and we thank Andy Penn and his team for this great initiative." - Penny Fowler, Community Ambassador, News Corp Australia

“Ask Izzy is an incredible example of how technology and innovation can help tackle very real issues. I'm so proud that an idea that came from an REA Hack Day has been brought to life and made widely accessible with the support and generosity of our partners. With more than 60 000 visits to the website since it launched, it's clear Ask Izzy is playing an important role in connecting people in need with critical services." - Tracey Fellows, CEO, REA Group (realestate.com.au)

 

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