MEDIA RELEASE - LABOR WELCOMES NBNCO REVERSAL ON UNMONITORED MEDICAL ALARMS - 5 SEPTEMBER 2018

Joint with Catherine King MP, Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare.

Labor welcomes the decision by NBNCo to reverse its stance and make assistance available to NBN consumers using unmonitored medical alarms.

Since 2016, Labor has called on NBNCo to reconsider a decision it made in 2015 to exclude unmonitored alarms from the medical alarm subsidy scheme.

Medical alarms are crucial for supporting the safety and independence of older Australians living at home.  

The source of concern was that the copper and HFC technology currently being deployed cannot support landline phone services during a power outage. In comparison, the NBN websites notes with Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) a battery backup unit could support phone services for up to five hours during a power outage.

This meant the multi-technology mix presented a higher risk profile for vulnerable, usually elderly, Australians who rely on medical alarms connected to a phone line for their personal wellbeing and safety.

The ongoing exclusion of non-monitored alarms from assistance would have had a disproportionate impact on Australians on low incomes, particularly elderly Australians, who desire peace of mind with a personal alarm, but cannot afford the more expensive monitored option – which can cost an additional $360 to $480 per year.

It remains unclear why Mitch Fifield sat on this known issue for two years.

The decision to reverse that stance will provide additional comfort and assurance to Australians migrating to the NBN who rely on this equipment.