The nation’s biggest telco will hire 1000 Australians for call centre jobs in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has resulted in thousands of employees working remotely.
Group Executive Michael Ackland revealed the massive recruitment drive to The West Live host Jenna Clarke this morning, as well as a commitment to offer free phone calls to struggling pensioners to ensure they stay connected.
He said Telstra had made broadband “unlimited” to customers on pensioner home phone plans, while all of their home to mobile calls locally and nationally are free of charge.
“We certainly don’t want people to come out of this with bill shock, we certainly don’t want people to feel stressed,” Mr Ackland said.
“Right now we’re in the process of recruiting in Australia an extra 1000 call centre staff to make sure we’ve got as many people as we can to answer calls.”
Mr Ackland said the network had held up “pretty well so far” despite a massive increase in data traffic in the wake of many businesses shutting down regular operations.
“Data traffic on the network has been going up by about 40 per cent each year for the last number of years anyway but… we’re seeing about a year’s worth of increase in probably a few weeks,” he said.
While people are avoiding commuting to the office, WA Tourism and Small Business Minister Paul Papalia told Jenna there is “no reason” why residents shouldn’t explore the state over the Easter break.
The state government has put its $5 million “Do it in WA” campaign on hold but Mr Papalia this morning said families “can still get out there and do road trips” which will help support local operators.
“You can’t go to remote Aboriginal communities because we’re protecting them… but everywhere else there is no reason why you shouldn’t go and explore our wonderful state,” he said.
“There’s a lot of good deals on offer because people are doing it tough but they’re keen to see people patronise their small business.”
Mr Papalia said that despite rumours Rottnest Island was facing closures he said it is “well and truly open”.
He also urged families to reach out to their local subcontractors for jobs around the house they have been putting off.
“That will help small business right across the state,” Mr Papalia said.
Small businesses are not the only ones doing it tough — Kids Helpline senior counsellor Leo Hede said there had been a worrying 400 per cent spike in the number of children phoning the hotline.
“We’re hearing a lot of anxiety and concern from young people about this quickly changing issue,” he told Jenna.
“We’re hearing from kids as young as nine talking about their concerns… seeing their parents buying extra toilet paper and trying to make sense of it, hearing snippets and feeling that anxiety about it.”
Mr Hede said parents should keep the lines of communication open with their kids and remember to check how they are coping.
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800.