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New tech charity to combat social problems

A new charity supported by phone and internet companies will use donations from industry and potentially millions of customers to combat homelessness, domestic violence and mental illness.

The telco industry has constant contact with nearly every Australian and business and sends out 25 million bills every month. The new Telco Together Foundation aims to tap into these interactions to raise money to support existing charities and fund initiatives.

Telco Together was started by former chief executive of M2 Communications, Vaughan Bowen, and is run by former M2 marketing manager Renee Bowker.

''Our industry collectively has not done anything [charitable]. Not to say it is not an industry that has not done anything, there is lots of independent activity, but collectively there has never been a coming together,'' Mr Bowen said.

Already Optus, Vodafone, AAPT, Community Telco, Vocus, Telco In a Box and M2 have signed up to the new charity, which was launched last night. Telstra was expected to sign up in coming months, Bowen said.

NBN Co has also joined and its chief executive, Mike Quigley, is chairman of Telco Together's advisory board. Quigley will be joined by the chief executives of telcos that donate at least $50,000 per year and two other directors.


''I would be very disappointed if we are not recognised as one of the most sizeable and charitable distributors of fund in the next three to five years,'' Bowen told IT Pro.

He believes the telco industry has potential to raise money and awareness through its direct communications with customers, and create solutions using technology, industry knowledge and co-operation.

For example, getting the telco industry to work together would allow donations via text message through any carrier, which is not currently available.

Bowen has provided seed capital, set up a public ancillary fund and has tax deductibility status. Money would be used to help refugees and indigenous Australians as well as fighting social problems.

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