Optus has announced a digital inclusion initiative Donate Your Data, which will help bridge the digital divide for the 1.1 million young Australians living in poverty.
The initiative invites eligible Optus Postpaid and Prepaid Mobile customers to donate their data to young Australians who need it most.
In today’s world, work and study is increasingly reliant on the internet and without it some young people are unable to access the same resources and opportunities as the rest of Australia.
Launching initially with its charity partners The Smith Family and the KARI Foundation, Optus will be providing free Optus SIM cards to young Australians in need, equipping them with unlimited national standard talk and text and 10GB data for use in Australia which will be topped up with extra data donated by Optus customers.
Optus deputy CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin said: “Optus is proud to be working with our customers to enable young people across Australia to reach their full potential by providing them with access to the internet.
“For many of us, data is something we take for granted. However, for some young Australians accessing the internet and staying connected with the world around them is a real challenge. This entails everything from studying through to searching for jobs, watching videos or even doing a quick internet search.
“By giving a mobile service to participants of the program and inviting our customers to donate their unused data, we are providing much-needed internet access to young people who need it most.
“We believe all Australians should be able to stay connected and not feel disadvantaged. By partnering with charities such as The Smith Family and the KARI Foundation we want to enable connectivity to vulnerable members of our community. This includes young people in need, those experiencing homelessness, people facing domestic violence, and people living in disadvantage and seeking a job.
“This project makes it incredibly simple for eligible Optus customers to make a real difference and with just a simple tap have the opportunity to contribute to the future of Australians in need.”
The Smith Family’s CEO Dr Lisa O’Brien said: “Thirty per cent of young people on The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program do not have access to reliable internet at home. This can create huge obstacles in their learning journey. In today’s world getting homework or school projects done is much more difficult without the internet. Optus’ Donate Your Data initiative will help address this fundamental educational challenge by improving internet access for young people and their families living in circumstances of financial disadvantage.
“We are delighted to partner with Optus and thank them and their customers for their generosity.”
KARI chief executive Casey Ralph said: “Staying connected is important for mental wellbeing, education outcomes and an ability to inspire our future leaders. The Optus Donate your Data initiative will build on our current partnership with Optus to ensure that KARI can support our young Indigenous people’s ability to achieve, thrive and belong in an ever-changing world.”
Over 13,000 students in The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program and more across the KARI Foundation will benefit from Optus’ Donate Your Data initiative.
YouTube’s star maths teacher Eddie Woo of Wootube, also an ambassador for the program, added: “Throughout my career, I have seen the big difference the internet can make to a child’s education. So, when I was asked to be part of a program that would donate data to kids in need, I was stoked to be involved.”