The fixed-line home phone is a critical lifeline for older Australians and increasingly, so is the internet.
Because of technology changes it's not only becoming more expensive just to have a phone connection, but many of the basic services we once used the telephone for are now only available online.
Government agencies and welfare support providers are stepping up their delivery of services online. Internet access is becoming vital for access to health and welfare services, paying bills, shopping and staying in touch. But the cost of basic broadband access is about to increase dramatically.
Over the next 3 years all fixed-line phone and internet services are migrating to the National Broadband Network. To stay connected, each household will need to sign up for a broadband access plan. Due to the NBN Co's revised wholesale pricing schedule the cost of even the most basic retail access plan is set to become significantly less affordable.
The prohibitive costs of the Government's National Broadband Network should not be a reason for older Australians losing access to essential services.
The Fix Pension Poverty campaign is calling on the Government to provide a new telecommunications rebate to ensure that people on the Age Pension can afford to stay connected.
Without such a rebate or subsidy many people on low incomes face the threat of loss of service resulting in digital exclusion and social isolation.