Life Tech NBN, Telstra finally step up to help Melbourne disability charity

NBN, Telstra finally step up to help Melbourne disability charity

A worker, Tracey Ellis, with young people with disabilities at the centre. Photo: Kevin Heinze Grow
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A Melbourne-based disability charity that has been without internet for nine months, and was at risk of having its landline cut off because of frustrating NBN delays, will finally be connected after The New Daily intervened.

On Tuesday, The New Daily revealed Telstra and NBN Co had failed to fix a faulty connection at charity Kevin Heinze Grow, based in Melbourne’s east in Doncaster, which had its internet switched off due to the NBN rollout in October.

It was also at risk of losing its landline phone connection in six weeks, when the NBN transition had completed.

Kevin Heinze Grow chief executive and City of Monash Councillor Josh Fergeus said NBN workers had arrived on the charity’s doorstep on Wednesday morning to fix the connection.

“We’re so relieved as this has been an extremely stressful time for our organisation,” Cr Fergeus told The New Daily.

An NBN Co spokesman said they attended the charity on Wednesday to investigate the complaint.

“Our technicians completed some remediation work and we are on track to have this premises connected as soon as possible,” the spokesman said. 

Telstra also confirmed with the charity, it would connect them to its services next week, but told The New Daily it would not comment further on the issue.

Melbourne-based disability and mental health support service Kevin Heinze Grow.

Switching off the ADSL connection had needlessly cost the charity more than $5000, after Telstra ignored repeated calls for it to contact NBN Co to check the faulty node, according to Cr Fergeus.

“We’ve spent more than 100 hours trying to resolve this issue with Telstra and NBN Co and it’s added up in staff costs,” he said.

“Clearly this was actioned very quickly when The New Daily stepped in and it’s a clear indication of how companies will act when they’re threatened with reputational risk.”

Cr Fergeus urged others facing similar NBN or telco difficulties to speak out.

“To a degree people have to take things into their own hands and this worked in our situation, but I definitely feel for those who have to go through this process.”

Dr Tooran Alizadeh, a telco planning expert at the University of Sydney, said the whole situation was disheartening.

“It’s good they’ve responded quickly to the customer, but it’s really frustrating for people when they are forced to go public with their stories to have their issues fixed,” she told The New Daily.

Dr Alizadeh said she had received daily complaints from consumers regarding NBN.

“When I’ve written columns on the NBN in the past, I’ve received several emails thereafter detailing the issues residents are experiencing.

“People need to continue to raise their voice on this matter, particularly those experiencing ongoing issues with their services.”

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) 2016-17 annual report revealed more than 27,100 complaints were lodged specifically about the NBN in the past financial year.

This was a 159 per cent increase compared to the previous year’s 10,400 complaints.

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