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Optus partners with Starlight to bring Livewire Online Community to young patients at Wollongong Hospital
23 Oct 2009

The Starlight Children's Foundation and Optus today announced the roll out of Livewire's hospital program at Wollongong Hospital.

The Livewire Hospital Program aims to have a significant impact on the social and emotional wellbeing of young patients aged between 10 and 21, currently spending long periods of time at Wollongong Hospital as they receive treatments for a serious illness, chronic health condition or disability.

Livewire, with the support of Optus, has provided a wireless internet connection and laptops at Wollongong Hospital to allow patients to access Livewire from the bedside. Livewire offers young patients a free, safe and supportive online community to hang out, connect, share experiences, creatively express themselves and know that they are not alone in their situation. Patients can play games, listen to music, watch videos, create blogs and chat online with other members.

Optus' support for Livewire makes it possible for young people to stay connected during long periods of separation caused by ongoing treatment. It also helps them to get the support that they need from other young people facing similar challenges.

"Communication breaks down barriers and connects people. As a local business we are excited to be part of the Livewire program here in Wollongong as it enables us to support the community and help young people to communicate and support one another in a safe environment using Optus' wireless broadband technology," said Tony Miller, Optus 'yes' store franchisee Wollongong.

Southern Hospital Network Manager for Women's and Babies' Health, Deborah Cameron said the donation of laptops will help make the hospital environment seem more like home for younger patients.

"Hospitals can be a confusing place for younger patients and some must stay for extended periods, the laptops will help relieve periods of boredom and keep them connected to friends while they are being cared for," Ms Cameron said.

"Keeping patients as relaxed as possible during treatment can help reduce the time they need to spend in hospital."

Said Livewire Managing Director, Omar Khalifa, "With the tremendous support of Starlight, other charities, hospitals, medical professionals and Optus, Livewire has quickly become the leading online community for young people living with a serious illness, chronic health condition or disability in Australia.

"These young people often experience unique challenges based on their illness or disability and treatment regimes – challenges which can lead to feelings of severe isolation, boredom and a lack of control over their daily lives.

"With a full suite of community tools, including chat, blogs and forums, Livewire is a fun place for young Australians to hang out and provide invaluable support for each other," he concluded.

Unlike other social networks, Livewire is a secure, moderated community tailored to the needs of its members. Livewire chat hosts and moderators are trained in adolescent health, and are online seven days a week to ensure that Livewire remains a supportive and fun place to be. Livewire works closely with the Australian Federal Police to help ensure all members of Livewire remain safe while engaging with the community.

Featuring a specially designed hospital bedside trolley, with PC hardware and a wireless internet connection, the Livewire Program offers young patients a free, safe and supportive online community to hang out, connect, share experiences, creatively express themselves and know that they are not alone in their situation. Patients can play games, listen to music, watch videos, create blogs and chat online with other members.

This project is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Clever Networks program, Starlight and major corporate partners such as Optus. This funding has enabled Livewire to develop a unique and valuable program that will connect, support and empower its members.

Any young Australian aged over 10 and under 21, who is currently living with a serious illness, chronic health condition or disability who wishes to join Livewire or find out more information should visit www.livewire.org.au or contact member.services@livewire.org.au.

For further details or to arrange an interview please contact:
Rose Kelly, Howorth, Ph: 02-8281 3834, Mob: 0404 784 814, Email: rose@howorth.com.au
Carla Dovgan, Howorth, Ph: 02-8281 3817, Mob: 0411 437 411, Email: carla@howorth.com.au
Simone Bergholcs, Optus Corporate Affairs, Ph: 02 8082 7850

About Livewire.org.au
Livewire.org.au is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Starlight Children's Foundation and is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Clever Networks Program, Starlight Children's Foundation and in-kind support from Livewire's launch partners. www.livewire.org.au

About the Starlight Children's Foundation
Since 1988, the Starlight Children's Foundation has been providing innovative programs designed to lift the spirits of these children, young people and their families when they need it most. There are over 600,000 child and teenager admissions to Australian hospitals every year and currently Starlight is only able to reach "1 in 3". Starlight's ultimate goal is to enable every seriously ill child, young person and their family the opportunity to access and benefit from Starlight's innovative programs. www.starlight.org.au

About Optus
Optus is an Australian leader in integrated communications. The company specialises in a broad range of communications services including mobile, local, national and long distance telephony, business network services, internet and satellite services and subscription television.

For Optus, corporate responsibility and business success go hand in hand. We believe that our responsibility as a leading corporate is more than just solid financial performance. Our responsibility to our society, our people and environment is also important. We partner with organisations that work to improve the welfare of the communities in which we operate. Optus is the exclusive telecommunications partner of Starlight and Livewire Program. We partner with organisations where there are shared objectives and where through the use of our technology, products and services, we can help build better communities and remove barriers that may prevent people from accessing the benefits of technology. For more information please visit www.optus.com.au/corporateresponsibility.

The Clever Networks Program
The Livewire project is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Clever Networks program. Clever Networks is a program of the Australian Government Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. The Clever Networks program delivers innovative broadband services to communities in regional, rural and remote Australia. www.dbcde.gov.au