Triple-zero reforms follow deadly failures of pandemic


Victoria's triple-zero call service will finally be reformed, almost a year after a damning report highlighted its deadly failures.

The Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority will be rebranded as Triple Zero Victoria and brought under government control, in legislation introduced to parliament on Wednesday.

It follows the recommendations of former police chief commissioner Graham Ashton who found the agency was systemically underperforming, leading to dire outcomes.

Thirty-three Victorians died after answering times for triple-zero calls blew out during the COVID-19 pandemic, another report from the Inspector-General for Emergency Management found.

The benchmark of 90 per cent of ambulance calls to be answered within five seconds was not met in September 2021 and fell to as low as 39 per cent of calls answered on time in January 2022.

The inspector-general's report, published in September last year, noted ESTA's ad hoc supplementary funding limited its ability to hire and train enough staff to meet demand.

Emergency Services Minister Jaclyn Symes admitted the new legislative changes were largely administrative but said they were still important structural reform.

"It's about ensuring that government has greater oversight," she told reporters on Wednesday.

"Ensuring that we have a board structure and management structure that is accountable to me as minister and has lines of sight also to the minister for ambulance and the minister for police."

Under the new legislation, the Department of Justice and Community Safety will be required to endorse Triple Zero Victoria's annual financial plans and operating budgets.

The Inspector-General for Emergency Management will continue to monitor the performance of the new agency.

Staff employed by ESTA will transfer to Triple Zero Victoria on the same terms and conditions they are currently employed.

Ms Symes said the government took a year to bring the new legislation because they first wanted to focus on improving response times.

ESTA has exceeded the 90 per cent benchmark since last August, with call-takers answering close to 2.7 million calls in the 2022/23 financial year.

The state government said it has invested $363 million into the call-taking service since October 2021, bringing on more than 400 extra staff.