The summary below outlines ACCAN's activities from 1 June – 31 August 2020.


During the reporting period the ACCAN team has continued to engage with issues of great significance to telecommunications consumers.  Unsurprisingly, issues resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have been predominant throughout the period, as the full effects of the national lockdowns became evident.  This resulted in an extremely busy period for ACCAN as the issues spanned all aspects of the organisation’s consumer policy positions: Increased reliability; No Australian Left Offline – affordable telecommunications for all; a fairer telco market; Growing consumer confidence, Better infrastructure, and Improved accessibility.

Significant activity during the period has included:

  • 22 submissions to government and industry consultations

  • Appearance before the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19

  • In collaboration with NBN Co, convened Affordable Broadband virtual roundtables with consumers in South Australia, Northern Territory, and Victoria.

  • Inaugural meeting with the incoming CEO of Optus.

  • Met with Minister Fletcher to discuss ongoing funding options for Accessible Telecommunications.

Importantly, ACCAN’s work continues to have impact.  For example, ACCAN’s submission to the NSW Bushfire inquiry was acknowledged in the final report.  Also, in a significant outcome the Hon Mark Coulton MP, in his capacity as Minister for Regional Communications, has appointed ACCAN to the Government’s Alternative Voice Trials Stakeholder Reference Group.  This position will be filled by ACCAN’s Director of Policy, Una Lawrence.

Processing of the 2020 Grants Round is now complete. The Independent Grants Panel met via video link on June 3 and recommended eight new projects to the ACCAN Board for funding.  All recommendations were accepted by the ACCAN Board in an out of session motion. All awardees accepted the offer.

Two of the 2019 Grants Round projects are now complete. Most continuing projects have faced unexpected delays due to COVID travel and gathering restrictions, however remediation plans have been implemented and revised completion timeframes agreed.

From 1 June – 31 August 2020, ACCAN published six news stories.

ACCAN’s total membership is 204. Organisational Membership is now at 108 organisations and 96 individuals. This reflects a minor decrease of one member from the previous report.  The COVID-19 issues continue to highlight the value of having a strong advocate for telecommunications consumers and ACCAN will continue to leverage this value proposition to existing and prospective members.

ACCAN’s consumer representation continued to remain strong throughout the period, with key activities including three Advisory Forums, progressing discussions around Accessible Telecoms, and addressing the ongoing issues related to COVID-19.  ACCAN staff represented consumers on 24 occasions across 9 separate committees, engaged with government and regulatory bodies on 25 occasions, and industry bodies on 38 occasions.  The majority of meetings were conducted via technology and it has become increasingly evident that this will be the predominant means of communication for the foreseeable future.  This is reflected by the fact that a total of 69 member and stakeholder engagements were conducted during the period; an increase on the previous period.

The Board met twice during the reporting period; 18 June 2020 and 13 August 2020.  Both meetings were conducted by videoconference due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions. At the June meeting the Board approved the ACCAN budget for 2020-2021.  The Independent Grants Panel report was circulated and approved by Out of Session Motion in early July.   At the August meeting the Board approved the Auditor’s Report for 2019-2020 and endorsed the proposed changes to ACCAN’s Constitution which will be tabled to members at the September Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Sadly, one of ACCAN’s inaugural Life Members, Sue Salthouse, tragically passed away during the reporting period.  Many ACCAN staff attended online memorial services for her, and her legacy was acknowledged by the Board at the August meeting.  ACCAN staff, in consultation with Sue’s family, are currently working on a more enduring legacy in the form of a memorial lecture series.  Details will be announced towards the end of 2020.

ACCAN staff have continued working remotely throughout the period, with no loss of productivity

This quarter, ACCAN generated 322 media hits across national print, online, TV and radio. This is an average of 107 items per month.

During this period, ACCAN responded to a total of six media enquiries. These covered a range of topics including mobile blackspots, Optus’ price freeze on plans, Circles.Life’s $1 plan for Victorians, and the then suspected cyber-attack on Telstra.

ACCAN proactively provided comments to the media on a range of other major issues including: Audio Description, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s COVID-19 Systemic Issues report and Small Business Systemic Issues report, the ACCC ‘s NBN Wholesale Standards Inquiry, and more.

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