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Optus partners with Starlight to bring Livewire Online Community to young patients at Sunshine Hospital
27 Jan 2010

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 or frequent periods of time at Sunshine Hospital.

Livewire, with the support of Optus, has provided a wireless internet connection and netbooks at Sunshine 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. Optus is excited to support the Livewire hospital program at the Sunshine Hospital as it enables us to support the community and young people. This is just the beginning of the Livewire program as we connect an additional 25 hospitals across the country over the next 12 months," said Jann Kohlman, Group Manager Optus Sponsorship and Community Programs.

"We are pleased to be able to help young people to communicate and support one another in a safe environment using Optus’ wireless broadband technology," said Ms Kohlman.

"Today's launch of the Livewire Hospital Program at Western Health, Sunshine, will provide entertainment and support for our young patients, making their stay in hospital a more positive experience,” says Susan Gannon, Divisional Director, Women's Children's, Western Health.

"The Livewire Hospital program will help connect our young patients with other young people facing similar challenges so they have a support network and a social outlet," Ms Gannon concluded.

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."

"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," Mr Khalifa 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 and parental consent is required for all members under the age of 18.

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.

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

For further details or to arrange an interview please contact:
Ellie Shaddick, Howorth
Ph: 02-8281 3834
Mob: 0415 900 980
Email: ellie@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

About 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