Paying bills is no drag for BPAY and Leasa Mann

- By Collaborative Media & Publishing
Drag queen Leasa Mann was working in nightclubs when the global financial crisis struck just over a decade ago.

"We saw a massive decline in patrons going out because clubbing was a luxury that not a lot of people could afford anymore."

But that was nothing like the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut down nightclubs altogether and made social distancing the new normal.

"It's not quite the experience you go for," Mann, who remains in lockdown in Melbourne, says.

No sector of the Australian economy has been untouched by the pandemic, with unemployment soaring to a 22-year high.

It prompted Leasa, who also works in the private health sector, to act after seeing the livelihoods of friends and colleagues evaporate overnight.

"I was lucky," she says. "I'm no longer on stage but I still have an income from my day job and don't have to worry about my bills. I wanted to do something to make sure that other people could pay for their essentials like water, electricity, phone and internet."

That initial offer, made over social media, quickly attracted a growing circle of people who also offered to chip in using the BPAY service to pay thousands of dollars of utility bills.

"We paid a lot of internet and mobile phone bills just so people could remain in contact with other people and not feel so disconnected from the world."

Anonymously, safely and securely with BPAY

BPAY was Leasa's first choice of payment method because it allowed a growing network of people to easily pay bills.

"When people started offering to chip in for other people's bills, I didn't want to handle their money, so I thought a really good way to do this was through BPAY because it was so safe and secure. People often don’t like sharing their personal details so using BPAY also allowed them to remain anonymous.”

That initial act of generosity has continued to grow, with Leasa fronting a new BPAY tutorial video that will also raise money for the First Nations Foundation.

BPAY will donate $1 to charity for each unique view of the tutorial up to a maximum of $30,000, which will provide financial literacy skills to 500 Indigenous Australians through the First Nations Foundation's ‘My Money Dream’ initiative.

"I've always said helping out seems like the Aussie thing to do and BPAY have shown that they're willing to do that, including earlier this year when farmers were facing droughts and bushfires. I think it's remarkable that an organisation that normally remains behind the scenes has been out there trying to help as many people as they can when the chips are down."

Controlling the coronavirus outbreak has proven to be an ongoing battle with Victoria entering a second hard lockdown just months after the initial occurrence. Faced with such uncertainty, Leasa says many people are still struggling socially and financially – but we can all help.

"If you have been inspired by things I'm doing out in the community and you are in a position to help people, please put up a post on Facebook because you never know who on your friends list or in your community might need help. It doesn't have to be much – you don't have to give hundreds or thousands of dollars – every little bit helps and it makes an impact in people's lives."

Australians keen to help out

A recent survey by RFi Research in May showed that many Australians are keen to get on board, with 58% of people stating that they strongly intend to help family and friends struggling with their bills[1].

"It just gives them a little bit of breathing room in their budget which might mean they can get extra food, petrol in the car, or toys for the kids – anything to bring a bit of light into people's worlds at the moment is super important," says Leasa.

Finding ways to cope with the social isolation is crucial. Leasa, a natural extrovert, has been holding a weekly Drinking in Wigs Facebook session every Friday.

"Even though we're working from home we can still get together, have a drink and wear something silly on our heads – just have a bit of a laugh."

It may have been several months since her last physical show, but the day will come again.

"It's going to be a corker."

Watch and share the Get Better at Bill with BPAY tutorial with Leasa Mann at:

This article represents the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BPAY. Published by BPAY Pty Ltd.  BPAY payment products are offered by over 150 Financial Institutions. Contact your Financial Institution to see if it offers BPAY payment products and to get the terms and conditions. This is general advice – before using BPAY payment products please review the terms and conditions and consider whether BPAY payment products are appropriate for your personal circumstances.
[1] RFi Research conducted in May 2020 on behalf of BPAY Group. Sample size 5253.

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