No Change To Mobile Emergency Number

  • 000 stays as emergency number
  • 1.5 million fewer emergency calls in 2009/10
  • 112 emergency for GSM network only

The Australian Communications and Media Authority(ACMA)  has no intention of changing Australia’s primary emergency call number from Triple Zero.

Speaking at a Senate Estimates hearing in Canberra yesterday, ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman said, “The number Triple Zero is Australia’s primary emergency service number and should always be used in the first instance.

“The number 112 is the GSM international standard emergency number, which can only be dialled on a digital mobile phone. It is accepted as a secondary international emergency number in some parts of the world, including Australia, and can be dialled in areas of GSM network coverage with the call automatically translated to that country’s emergency number. Importantly, 112 cannot be used to access the emergency call service from fixed lines in Australia,” Chapman said.

Triple Zero has been Australia’s primary emergency service number since 1961. It ensures that all Australians can dial one free number to access fire, ambulance and police services in time-critical emergency situations.

There is a high level of awareness of the Triple Zero emergency service number, with recent research commissioned by the ACMA indicating that almost 95 per cent of Australians are aware that they should call Triple Zero in an emergency.

112 offers no benefits (such as quicker access to the emergency call service) over Triple Zero.

The ACMA has responsibility for the designation of the emergency call number through the Australian Numbering Plan.

“Recent reports that the number could be changed are incorrect and irresponsible,” says Chapman. “The Australian community can be assured that Triple Zero is, and will remain, the number to call in a time-critical emergency situation,’ said Mr Chapman.

Every year, the operator of the Triple Zero service receives many calls which are non-life threatening or non-time critical, such as from misdials, automatically generated calls from incorrectly programmed fax machines or modems, callers reporting matters that are not emergencies, and hoax and malicious calls.

The ACMA has been working with industry and emergency service organisations over the past two to three years to reduce the number of non-emergency calls made to Triple Zero, without compromising genuine emergency calls.

Since December 2008 this has led to a 29 per cent reduction in the total number of non-life threatening calls (that is, calls that were not passed to an emergency service organisation). In 2009-10, there were 3.5 million of these types of calls (1.8 million from mobile phones) down from 4.9 million in 2008-09.

The total number of calls made to Triple Zero in 2009-10 was 8.8 million, a decrease of 1.5 million from the previous year.