The Starlight Children’s Foundation, with the support of Optus, has launched the Livewire online community in Townsville Hospital to give young people with a serious illness or disability a safe environment to make friends, gain peer support and share experiences with others who understand them.
Livewire and Optus have donated two netbooks and wireless connectivity to the children’s ward at the Townsville Hospital. The computers are loaned out to patients to use from the comfort of their hospital bed.
Livewire gives members the opportunity to chat with other young people, create blogs, play games, listen to music and watch videos. Research from the Murdoch University’s Centre for Everyday Life reveals that having access to a supportive network of peers is highly valuable for young people facing such difficult circumstances.
The Townsville Hospital is the fifth hospital in Queensland to receive the Livewire program thanks to Optus. The service is currently available at the Royal Children’s Hospital and Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane and Gold Coast Hospital. The program is now available in 25 hospitals around the country.
“Today’s launch of the Livewire Hospital Program at the Townsville Hospital is great for young people. Livewire provides them with the opportunity to connect with other young people facing similar challenges so they won’t feel alone,” said Hospital representative.
Optus’ support for Livewire makes it possible for young people living with a serious illness or disability to stay connected during their hospitalisation; providing them with invaluable peer support and friendship in Livewire’s online community.
“Communication breaks down barriers and connects people. We’re proud to support the Livewire program so young people across Australia can communicate and support one another in a safe environment using Optus’ wireless broadband technology. Since we launched the national Livewire program in 2009, we have connected 25 hospitals across the country,” said Maha Krishnapillai, Optus Government and Corporate Affairs Director.
“Right now in Australia there are up to 50,000 young people experiencing social isolation, lower peer support and lower wellbeing as a result of living with a serious illness or disability,” says Kylie Johnson, Head of Programs, Livewire.
“With the latest internet applications such as chat, blogs, forums, music, video and games, as well as a team of moderators who ensure a safe environment for all, Livewire is filling a gap in the lives of these young people by providing them with a fun place to hang out and interact with peers who are going through similar experiences as them,” said Ms Johnson.
This program was initially established with funding from the Australian Government under the Clever Networks program, and now relies on the support of donors and major corporate partners such as Optus to continue to grow the community.
Any young Australian aged between 10 and 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 visitwww.livewire.org.au or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.