House debates

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Statements by Members


1:51 pm

Photo of Susan TemplemanSusan Templeman (Macquarie, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Betty Levy, 103 years old, lives in Springwood—in Buckland—and she absolutely loves hearing from her sons and grandsons over the phone. She can do that because she uses CapTel. But that CapTel service is about to end.

Betty has a Medal of the Order of Australia for her services to the Red Cross. She's partially deaf, so the phone is hard to use. She can speak into it but she can't always hear what's said. I met with Betty and her son Chris to see how CapTel works. Basically, what happens is that the phone rings, she picks it up, she hits a button, and all of a sudden the words from the caller on the other end of the phone appear in large text and scroll on the phone's screen. Betty can't hear a word through the phone, but she can see the words on the screen. That means she's able to be connected with her family, who live in Sydney, not in the Blue Mountains.

From 1 February a new provider is going to end this service. Betty says it is her lifeline. She is one of 4,000 people who rely on it and she's really worried about being left without it. The government claims not to be excluding CapTel from the new tender, but it's forcing elderly people onto smartphones, all for an $8 million saving. It's replacing a really simple process with a nine-step teletypewriter process. I urge the minister to do more so that Betty and thousands of other people can keep using CapTel and not be left in silence.