Urgent call for SA seniors: Upgrade alert devices before 3G shutdown to maintain lifeline

Urgent call for SA seniors: Upgrade alert devices before 3G shutdown to maintain lifeline
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South Australian authorities are calling on elderly residents to update their personal alert systems in anticipation of the upcoming 3G network decommissioning. This move is crucial as primary telecom providers are set to phase out their 3G services starting 1 July 2024. Devices that rely on this older technology, such as emergency pendants and call buttons, will cease to operate post-shutdown, potentially leaving users without vital communication means in emergencies.

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Users of Personal AlertSA are urged to ensure their devices are updated to 4G technology. Personal AlertSA is a government initiative providing funded or subsidized alarm systems and monitoring services to eligible seniors. Currently, approximately 11,000 South Australians are registered under this scheme, with a concerning tally of over 2,200 yet to switch to the newer technology.

“Older South Australians deserve support to live well in their own home for longer and personal alert devices can provide a strong sense of safety to support this independence,” said Nat Cook, Minister for Human Services and Minister for Seniors and Aging Well. She emphasized the critical need for these devices to be operational post-3G shutdown.

For individuals who are still using outdated devices, the government is facilitating upgrades, with options including no-cost solutions. Cook advised all Personal AlertSA subscribers who are yet to upgrade to wait for a direct contact via mail or phone from the Personal AlertSA team for assistance.

The concerns extend beyond government-provided devices. Seniors employing services from private entities or those reliant on Commonwealth-supported programs are also encouraged to verify their device’s compatibility. The impending network shift is not only a logistical challenge but a potential health hazard if left unaddressed, as these devices are often lifelines in emergency situations.

Anne Burgess AM, Deputy Chair of the Council on the Aging (COTA) SA, also highlighted the user-centric implications of this technological shift. “Personal alert devices help older people to feel more confident and safer in their homes,” she stated. Burgess stressed the urgency of the matter, urging users to ensure their devices function correctly ahead of the 3G phase-out.

For users uncertain about their device’s network or those needing assistance transitioning to 4G, support is available. They can contact the Personal AlertSA hotline for guidance and facilitation. Additionally, Burgess urged community members to assist, suggesting, “If you have a family member or know someone who uses a personal alert device, please encourage them to check their device and their network.”

With the shutdown imminent from July, the state’s coordinated effort underscores its commitment to ensuring no senior is left vulnerable due to technological advancements. For further details on the Personal AlertSA program or to verify eligibility for device upgrades, recipients are encouraged to visit the official website or contact the dedicated operational hotline from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

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