Media Release, 11 October 2019

Payphones deliver vital community service 

The Salvation Army says despite the mobile phone phenomenon, payphones still play a crucial role in helping to keep vulnerable people in the community connected.

Mandurah’s Captain Scott Ellery said while most people stayed in contact using a mobile device that there were others that simply cannot afford to have a mobile service.

“Staying connected with family and friends is necessary for a healthy life. For some people in our community the payphone provides a lifeline for maintaining that contact,” he said.

Captain Ellery welcomed a new initiative launched by Telstra, which saw the telco reduce distanced-based pricing for national calls to a simple flat rate of 50 cents per call (untimed) from payphones to standard fixed lines in Australia.

Call rates to 11 selected international destinations were also changed to 50 cents per 10 minutes; with reduced pricing and longer calls planned to be introduced to a further 60 countries.

As well as a drop in landline rates, calls made from payphones to mobiles in Australia have also been revamped from 50 cents per 35 seconds to 50 cents for 10 minutes.

On top of these pricing changes, for the first time nationwide, publicly accessible payphones now have their own number and could receive incoming telephone calls.

Despite the growth of mobile phone usage, payphones still remained a critical piece of social and community infrastructure, serving some of our most vulnerable citizens in their times of need.

Captain Ellery said these changes would make a big difference for those people struggling with finances and can’t afford a mobile phone.

"Mobile phones have become an essential part of everyday life. We take them for granted and yet there are those that don’t have the means to access this basic necessity and this makes life very difficult,” he said.

"The Salvation Army is pleased that Telstra has considered our most vulnerable people in the Peel region by easing pricing costs and providing an option for people to receive calls at a unique number at each location."

A Telstra spokesperson said in the future new payphones would also provide additional services.

"Next generation payphones could contain a range of features including digital screens, Wi-Fi, 5G enabled technology, mobile device charging, as well as providing a space for communicating everything from emergency alerts to a range of content services such as public transport information to city maps, weather, tourist advice, information on nearby cultural attractions and the ability to promote the work of charitable organisations."

There are 60 payphones located across Mandurah and Peel region.

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Media contact: Mark Thompson – 0477701814
Media Reference: 089/2019
E: media@team.telstra.com