Australians can now use Telstra payphones at Dubbo to make calls for free to anywhere in the country.
The telco announced it was ending the need for 50 cents to dial a national landline or mobile from its more than 15,000-strong payphone network from Tuesday.
Telstra reports in the past year, about 11 million calls were made across Australia from its payphones.
The number included more than 230,000 calls to critical services like Triple Zero and Lifeline, and the company sees the network as providing a crucial service for some of the country's most vulnerable people and communities, especially those in regional and remote areas.
Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said the decision meant everyone could use payphones to make a free local or national call to a standard fixed line or a call to an Australian mobile.
"Telstra payphones are now free phones for everyone to anywhere in Australia," he said.
"They are an iconic and critical part of our community, and for many Australians, the availability of a payphone is a vital lifeline, especially for those vulnerable including the homeless, people who are isolated or someone escaping an unsafe situation.
"That's why I have taken this decision to make national calls from payphones free, because they play such a critical role in our community, particularly in times of need and for those in need.
"I have been moved seeing first-hand queues of people waiting in line to use a payphone to tell their family and friends they're safe after a bushfire, a cyclone or some other natural disaster has taken the mobile network down.
"I can only imagine the relief their families feel knowing their loved one is safe.
"During COVID-related lockdowns, we've seen domestic and family violence agencies report a 60 per cent rise in new clients seeking help for the first time, and an increase in abusive behaviours overall.
"It's not always easy for people in these situations to use a home phone or their mobile to get help, so I hope making payphone calls free might play a small part in helping them get the assistance they need."
Mr Penn said as Telstra's purpose was to build a connected future so everyone could thrive, the telco wanted to contribute to a better, more caring and more inclusive Australia.
"An Australia where people can reach out for help if and when they need, or just connect if they feel like it," he said.
"We take our responsibility for keeping people connected seriously, and today's announcement reinforces that commitment."
The reality is this piece of infrastructure is absolutely critical because a lot of Australians either don't have a mobile phone, lose it or the phone's charger, or simply run out of credit.Salvation Army Major Brendan Nottle
It builds on Telstra's five-year program providing free national calls on its payphones during the Christmas and New Year period, which it works closely on with the Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army's Major Brendan Nottle welcomed Tuesday's announcement, saying: "This is an absolute game changer for many of the people we work with across the nation."
"The reality is this piece of infrastructure is absolutely critical because a lot of Australians either don't have a mobile phone, lose it or the phone's charger, or simply run out of credit.
"Connection is absolutely vital for every human being, but particularly for those who are vulnerable.
"It's really important for them to break down that sense of social poverty, social isolation, and to connect with a friend or with support services."
Telstra's payphone online locator tool reveals there are 10 payphones at Dubbo.
The one located in Darling Street near Victoria Park had the updated information about free calls on its screen on Tuesday.
International and calls to premium and satellite numbers will still incur a cost, while Telstra Air remains free to eligible Telstra customers.
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