Telstra community support; bridging communication gap in times of need


The Hunter Valley endured a horrific weather event in April 2015, with damaging winds, rain and flooding that resulted in the region being declared a natural disaster zone.  Tragically, lives were lost, communities isolated and homes destroyed.

Like many others, Mai-Wel was affected by the adverse weather conditions across a number of sites and houses including our Head Office in Telarah, Mai-Wel LabourForce Solutions office in the Maitland CBD, TimeSavers at East Maitland and four of our residential group homes in the Rutherford area.  

Although the April storms occurred more than nine months ago, some of the consequences of the natural disaster have only recently been rectified at Mai-Wel and across the Hunter Valley. Specifically, some Mai-Wel residents have only just moved back into their homes now the refurbishment of their floor coverings, painting and landscaping are complete.  

There was however one very positive outcome as a result of the event and that was the support from Telstra who provided Mai-Wel with a community grant of $15,000.  The grant has been used to enable increased mobility within the workforce and most importantly, to ensure improved communication lines exist between staff and participants. The funding will also enable tablets to be purchased for staff to effectively communicate with participants who are non-verbal or have limited communication skills.  

Mai-Wel CEO, Pennie Kearney, appreciates the positive relationship between Mai-Wel and Telstra and she looks forward to strengthening it further in the future.    

“The grant received from Telstra has provided Mai-Wel with the tools to deliver greater opportunity to people with a disability. The tablets and Apps will be used to assist people who are non-verbal or have limited communications skills. The use of adaptive technology approach has been trialled previously at Mai-Wel, and as a result there have been many positive differences to individual’s lives”, said Ms Kearney.  

Clayton McSeveney, Director Telstra Local Area Board Hunter Central Coast is delighted the funds will be used to bridge communication gaps.   “We understand the impact events like the recent storms can have on our local communities.  As a Local Area Board, our key objective was to get services restored as quickly as we could and show our support for our community by helping those in need,”  

“We created Storm Grants to support organisations that were helping local people in real need and Mai-Wel does some really amazing work within our community.   We are proud that we have been able to support their work through this program,” Mr McSeveney said.

Above: Mai-Wel CFO, Tracey De Friskbom with Telstra Senior Account Executive, Niamh Champion.

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The Mai-Wel Group is one of the larger Disability Service Providers in the Lower Hunter Region, providing services and programs to more than 800 clients across nine Local Government Areas.

The Mai-Wel Group employs more than 170 local support and administrative staff in addition to 110 local supported employees. The ethos of The Mai-Wel Group carries throughout the organisation from management and staff, and on to clients.

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Unit 4/555 High Street, Maitland NSW 2320
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