Telstra Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRP) & the Summer Foundation

By Jackie Coates
General Manager, Telstra Foundation

Building better lives for young people in nursing homes

Connection is a fundamental human need; it brings us together and underpins communities. Connection can also be a real game-changer for people living with a disability – smart technology can turn people’s lives around by increasing their independence, opening up social channels and giving them more control of their own health outcomes.  The Summer Foundation, an Australian charity, knows this well.  The team works at the intersection of connectivity and disability, enabling the next generation of housing and support services to transform lives through digital technology.

With the support of Telstra shareholders, this work is set to be amplified.  Thousands of Telstra shareholders will contribute residual amounts left over after their dividends are reinvested into shares through the Telstra Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRP) to the Summer Foundation, a Telstra charity partner.  These donations will help the Summer Foundation in their work to drive better social outcomes for young people living in nursing homes.

Michelle Newland, a Summer Foundation Ambassador, has first-hand experience of what it’s like to live in an aged care facility.

Michelle had just celebrated her nineteenth birthday when an asthma attack left her with a permanent and profound brain injury.  Michelle’s care and support needs were so high when she was discharged from hospital, her parents were unable to look after her at home.  Their only option was to place their daughter in a nursing home.  Michelle’s mother Ann says, “The image of my 19 year old daughter in a nursing home still haunts me today.  It was a very hard time filled with great sadness, immense stress, fear and loneliness.  Every goodbye whilst Michelle was in the nursing home was heartbreaking.”

There are nearly 600 people under 50 in Australia forced to live in nursing homes simply because there is nowhere else for them.

Thirteen years after acquiring her brain injury Michelle demonstrates the potential of people with an acquired brain injury, along with the value of investing in them.  Michelle’s parents worked hard to bring her home, and now Michelle is on the brink of taking another significant step toward independence – finalizing plans to move out on her own.

Inspired by the technology incorporated into the Summer Foundation’s Melbourne housing demonstration apartments, Michelle and her family have included technology into the fit-out of Michelle’s new home.  Difficulty with memory continues to be one of Michelle’s biggest challenges, so the technology prioritised to support Michelle’s independence in her new home is centred around safety and security while assisting Michelle manage her daily routines.

Michelle would never have realised her potential residing in a nursing home. It is sobering to consider that 200 other young people will be admitted to aged care in Australia this year with just as much potential as Michelle.

Connectivity has tremendous capacity to enhance the independent living options of young people with disability.  Technology has been incorporated into the Summer Foundation’s Melbourne demonstration housing project  which can be viewed here via YouTube.  To find out more about the work of the Summer Foundation visit

Brilliant connected futures for everyone.


Through the DRP, you can support the Summer Foundation’s work to:

  1. Create a national movement to address the issue of young people with disability being placed in nursing homes.
  1. Develop innovative housing (that leverages smart tech) as an alternative for young people living in nursing homes.
  1. Undertake practical research to provide an evidence base for systemic change.


For more information about the DRP please visit or contact the Telstra Share registry by phone on 1300 88 66 77.