Emergency Communication Services

Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (12:13): (377) My question is to the Minister for Emergency Services. Last week Josh from Aherns Fruit Market in Foster received an alert that an intruder had broken into his shop. On calling 000 twice he received a message that they were too busy and to call back later. Why is your government continuing to fail Victorians who need an emergency response?

Jaclyn SYMES (Northern Victoria – Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (12:13):
I thank Ms Bath for her question. As you have indicated, the individual that you have spoken to rang 000. As I think many people understand now in the chamber about how things happen in relation to how calls get through and get dispatched, when you call 000 it is first answered by Telstra. It is first answered by a body that I do not have responsibility for; the federal government do.
You have alerted me to a recorded message, and I have made inquiries just in recent days in relation to this because I had heard about it. I can assure you that ESTA have not used recorded automated messages for emergency calls for over 12 months. There was a time during the pandemic when recorded messages were used. We have not used them in 12 months, so I can assure you, Ms Bath, that the incident you have referred to could be a result of somebody hearing a recorded automated message that Telstra has played when the national call centre receives a high volume of demand, because all calls go through 000 Telstra first before coming to ESTA, but I have made inquiries and I can confirm that ESTA have not used recorded messages in over 12 months.

Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (12:15): Well, Minister, last week, as you know, in public accounts and estimates hearings the department said that such recorded messages on 000 were
implemented for a short time last year and were surprised to hear that these were still being used. Who is right? Are they right, or are you right? Why are Victorians like Josh still getting recorded messages when they are trying to ring 000?

Jaclyn SYMES (Northern Victoria – Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (12:15): Ms Bath, I am not sure whether you failed to listen to my answer. Help me out, everyone; my answer was the same as the PAEC response, right? That is what I took from Ms Bath’s question. Perhaps when you revisit my answer to your substantive question you will understand the answer