Free voice mail is like a ‘phone without a phone’. People can have a life line for maintaining contact with potential landlords, employers, service providers, health professionals, friends and family.

Kendall Worth meets up with a couple on income assistance, all set to do a serious job search now that they have a free bus pass and a phone. Just goes to show what a difference access to public transportation makes. “Now that we have both the bus pass and the phone, we are planning to get down to business with looking for meaningful employment,” Peter and Peggy tell Kendall. “Kendall, we are tired of living with the bureaucratic nonsense. We are tired of it, and we hope that now that we got our free bus pass we can get off this system.”

Why do you have to pay a fee month after month for an unlisted number, Kendall Worth asks. For many people privacy is not a luxury, it is a necessity and a safety issue. Yet unlisted numbers are expensive. Adding to the problems is that Community Services seldom picks up the bill, meaning that for people on welfare it has to come out of their tiny food budget.