Victoria’s emergency triple zero service will undergo a significant transformation to improve governance, accountability and oversight under new legislation introduced today by the Andrews Labor Government.
The Triple Zero Victoria Bill 2023 will reform the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) to bring it closer to government, ensuring greater oversight and providing clear and transparent accountabilities for the organisation, board and Chief Executive Officer. The legislation will commence by the end of 2023.
Under the reforms, ESTA will be renamed Triple Zero Victoria and established as a new statutory authority, led by a new board and CEO directly accountable to the Minister for Emergency Services that draws on expertise from across the emergency and health services sectors.
Given the unique nature of its services, maintaining Triple Zero Victoria as a statutory authority will preserve its operational autonomy and its ability to respond quickly to emergency situations. This is a similar arrangement to how other emergency services like Ambulance Victoria operate.
Delivering on another key recommendation from the ESTA Capability and Service Review led by former Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton, Triple Zero Victoria will strengthen its partnership with emergency service organisations and key government departments with the establishment of an Operational Committee.
The committee will include representatives from ambulance, police, fire and VICSES, and will provide advice to the Board to help ensure Victorians calling triple zero receive the highest quality service.
This will be supported by robust reporting requirements that will enable Triple Zero Victoria to quickly escalate and resolve issues that could affect emergency service delivery, making sure Victorians get the help they need, when they need it.
Under the legislation, the Department of Justice and Community Safety will be required to endorse Triple Zero Victoria’s annual financial plans and operating budgets. This will make sure it is financially robust and gives greater transparency of the organisation’s financial position.
The Inspector General for Emergency Management will continue to monitor and provide assurance around the performance of Triple Zero Victoria.
Since October 2021, the LaborGovernment has invested$363 million to help ESTA meet overwhelming demand – employing more than 400 extra staff, building better support and surge capacity for busy times, strengthening mental health support for staff and supporting critical technology upgrades.
In 2022-23, ESTA answered almost 2.7 million calls for assistance, representing a call every 11 seconds or 7,350 calls every day. Despite this demand, ESTA has consistently exceeded the 90 per cent ambulance call answer performance benchmark since last August.
ESTA’s dedicated workforce will be supported through the transitional period. Staff employed by ESTA will transfer to Triple Zero Victoria on the same terms and conditions they are currently employed under to help ensure the continuity of service to the community.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes
“These reforms mark a new era for Victoria’s emergency call-taking and dispatch service. They will ensure Victorians can continue to have confidence that when they call Triple Zero, they will get the help they need, when they need it.”
“Our dedicated and tireless ESTA staff do an incredible job on the frontline every day – these reforms will also give them certainty that the highly skilled service they provide will be supported by a strong and resilient system.”
Quotes attributable to Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority CEO Debra Abbott
“The establishment of Triple Zero Victoria will cement the organisation as a world leading, integrated call-taking and dispatch service which also delivers operational communications to our emergency services partners.”
“These reforms will ensure Triple Zero Victoria can deliver an effective and sustainable service to the Victorian community now and for decades to come.”
Reviewed 29 August 2023