Vodafone announces expanded bushfire support initiatives

Vodafone has released an expanded package of measures to support frontline volunteers and customers affected by the devastating bushfires across Australia.

Among the measures, Vodafone is extending its two-month free mobile service to include a range of other frontline volunteers, is offering a free mobile Wi-Fi option which may assist those who have lost their homes and, additional data for customers in bushfire-affected areas, along with payment support or relief and a matched donation program. All support measures can be found via a dedicated page on the Vodafone website (www.vodafone.com.au).

Vodafone Chief Executive Officer Iñaki Berroeta said, like all Australians, Vodafone is devastated to see the effects of the continuing bushfires.

“Our thoughts are with the impacted communities and we want to assist wherever we can. To show our gratitude to the brave volunteers who have given their time and risked their lives to protect communities, homes and wildlife across Australia, we have put in place a range of measures to ensure that they have the support they need,” he said.

“We are waiving any mobile network usage charges for our brave volunteer firefighters during December and January and have extended this to frontline SES and wildlife rescue volunteers,” he said.

“We understand the bushfires have caused financial hardship for many of our customers and we have a range of options available to anyone who has been affected.”

Mr Berroeta said Vodafone has also established a donation program with the Red Cross and will match dollar for dollar $250,000 of customer and employee donations to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery appeal, in an effort to raise more than $500,000 to help those affected.

“And to support anyone who has suffered the tragedy of losing their home in the fires, we are providing a free Vodafone 4G Pocket WiFi Modem and three months free mobile broadband service. We recognise that this may not be suitable for all affected Australians, but we hope that this will help some of those affected by this tragedy to continue to access the internet and connect with loved ones.

“This free modem and broadband service is available to anyone who has lost their home in the fires, whether or not they are a Vodafone customer.”

Mr Berroeta said Vodafone was also providing free access to a range of emergency services websites as well as increased data allowances.

“To help Vodafone customers access emergency services websites and keep as much of their data for other uses, we have done everything we can to ensure that our customers do not need to use their mobile data allowance for content accessed from a range of websites,” he said.

“We will automatically apply additional data to the accounts of Vodafone customers who are in bushfire-affected areas to help them stay in touch and access emergency services information.  We’ll directly notify these customers with the details of this extra data.”

Vodafone engineers are working around the clock with emergency services and relevant agencies to restore services following power outages and extensive damage to infrastructure in parts of NSW and Victoria, Mr Berroeta said.

“We are working closely with emergency services to access sites, many of which are in exclusion zones where sites are simply not safe to access. But we remind customers that calls to 000 will be carried on any available mobile network.”

“This disaster is unprecedented and the impact to so many is far and wide. We will continue to provide assistance and support wherever we can to those in need at this difficult time. We encourage people to contact us if they have any questions about any of these initiatives on 1300 650 405,” Mr Berroeta said.

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