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Emergency call service FAQ

What is the emergency service number in Australia?

Triple Zero (000) is Australia's primary emergency service number and should be used if urgent emergency assistance is required from either police, fire, or ambulance services.

Australia also has two secondary emergency service numbers that only work with particular technologies:

  • 112 is the GSM international standard emergency number which can only be dialled on a digital mobile phone.
  • 106 is the text-based emergency number for people who are deaf, or who have a hearing or speech impairment. This service operates using a textphone (TTY) or a computer with modem access.

You should only call 000 when a situation is threatening to life or property, or time-critical. If a situation is not urgent but does need the attention of an emergency service organisation, you should obtain the number of your local police, fire or ambulance service from the phone book or by calling directory assistance.

What is the Triple Zero (000) Emergency Call Service and when should I call it?

The Triple Zero (000) Emergency Call Service is an operator-assisted service that connects you to the relevant emergency service organisation (police, fire or ambulance). Telstra is currently responsible for answering calls to the emergency service numbers 000 and 112, and transferring them, with relevant associated information, to the requested emergency service organisation.

You should only call 000 when a situation is threatening to life or property, or time-critical. If a situation is not urgent but does need the attention of an emergency service organisation, you should obtain the number of your local police, fire or ambulance service from the phone book or by calling directory assistance.

Can I call Triple Zero (000) from any type of telephone service?

Triple Zero (000) can be called from any fixed or mobile phone and certain VoIP and satellite services.

Triple Zero can be called from any conventional 'handheld' satellite phone.

There are some limited exemptions for non-handheld satellite services provided to commercial users on Inmarsat satellites – for example, the shipping and aeronautical industries – where there is little or no expectation that 000 will be accessible. Customers of exempt satellite services must be notified about not having access to 000. The exemptions do not include conventional handheld satellite phone services marketed to the general public.

Triple Zero can also be called using the Emergency+ app with a smartphone.  A significant advantage of using the Emergency+ app to call 000 is that if you do not know your exact location, it uses the existing GPS functionality of your smartphone to enable you to provide emergency call-takers with your location information as determined by your smartphone. 

The Emergency+ app is available to download free of charge from the Google Play store and Apple App store.  

Will I be charged if I call Triple Zero (000)?

No. Calls to 000 are free from any kind of phone.

What happens when I dial Triple Zero (000)?

When you dial 000 you will first hear the recorded message 'You have dialled emergency Triple Zero. Your call is being connected.'  Your call is then answered by a Telstra operator who will ask whether you require police, fire or ambulance. Depending on whether you use a mobile, fixed line, voice over internet protocol (VoIP) service or a payphone to call 000, you may also be asked to provide details of the state and town you are calling from. The operator will then connect you to the emergency service organisation you have requested and will stay on the line with you until the call is answered.

In extreme events, such as major bushfires or storms, there may be a short delay in answer due to an unexpected influx of calls. You should stay on the line in these instances otherwise you will lose your place in the queue.

When you dial 000, the most important thing to remember is to stay focused, stay relevant and stay on the line. Further information about making an emergency call can be found at www.triplezero.gov.au.

How will the operator know where I am when I call?

When you call 000, your address details that are stored in the Integrated Public Number Database will automatically appear on the operator’s screen and be passed on to the emergency service organisation you request. Therefore if you call 000 from a fixed service, your location is automatically known to the operator, although you may still be asked to confirm what town and state you are calling from.

However, if you call 000 from a mobile phone or VoIP service your exact location is not automatically available to the operator. This is because your home or billing address stored in the IPND may not be the location from which you are calling. You will therefore need to provide the operator with as much information about the location of the emergency, including the town/suburb and state.

The Emergency+ app can assist you if you do not know your exact location when you call 000.  It uses the GPS functionality of your smartphone to enable you to provide call-takers with your location information as determined by your smartphone.  The Emergency+ app is available to download free of charge from the Google Play store and Apple App store.  

The Emergency Call Service is currently not capable of automatically receiving location information more accurate than the mobile service area if you call 000 from a mobile phone. This information is very broad and is unlikely to assist emergency service organisations locate you in an emergency. More information about calling the Emergency Call Service from a mobile phone and key issues to consider before getting VoIP is available.

How do I know if my address details stored in the IPND are correct?

To check that your address details in the IPND are accurate, or to request an update following a change in your details, you should contact your carriage service provider. If you have difficulty checking or updating your address details with your phone company, you can contact the ACMA to assist you. Having up-to-date details in the IPND will enable more efficient dispatch of the appropriate emergency service organisation (police, fire or ambulance).

Will updating my White Pages entry also update my IPND record?

No. The White Pages does not utilise IPND data. If you make a change to your White Pages entry, it will not flow through to the IPND. You should contact your carriage service provider directly to ensure your IPND record is also successfully updated.

How do I contact emergency services if I have a hearing or speech impairment?

People who are deaf or have a hearing impairment and use a TTY can call a text based Emergency Call Service by dialling 106. The 106 service is provided as a part of the National Relay Service (NRS).

When you call 106, the operator will connect you with the appropriate emergency service organisation (police, fire or ambulance). The 106 service is not currently accessible via mobile text or SMS messaging.

The text based internet relay service for people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment and a voice based service for people with speech impairment are also provided as a part of the NRS. Users of these services can request that a call be made to the Triple Zero emergency service, for connection with the appropriate emergency service organisation (police, fire or ambulance).

What if I am unable to speak to the operator?

A Caller No Response (CNR) initiative for the 000 Emergency Call Service is in place to help genuine callers receive emergency response even if they are unable to speak. All calls where the caller does not respond to the operator's question 'Emergency. Police? Fire? Ambulance?' are directed to an interactive voice response (IVR) unit. Callers directed to the IVR unit are asked to press '55' if they require emergency assistance. If a caller does not press '55' after three requests from the IVR the call is disconnected.

Callers who press '55' are connected to the police in the appropriate state by the operator. If the caller is still unable to speak, the police will attempt to call back and might also dispatch a patrol car to the caller's address. The address used to dispatch a patrol car is the address stored in the IPND (which would usually be either your home or billing address). It is therefore important that your carriage service provider has your most up-to-date address details for your phone services.

Does a power outage affect my ability to call Triple Zero (000)?

Yes, depending on the type of service and phone you are using to call 000.

Cordless telephones are dependent on a power source, therefore if there is a power blackout you will not be able to call 000.

VoIP services are dependent on access to the internet, either through a computer or a broadband modem. If there is a power outage that affects the power supply to the computer or the broadband modem, the VoIP service will not be available. This includes calls to emergency services on 000 or 106 for people with speech or hearing impairments that use a TTY or modem.

Regular, non-portable fixed line telephones that can be plugged directly into a phone socket normally receive their power direct from the phone network in the event of a blackout. This allows for ongoing availability of telephone services, including calls to emergency services. You may wish to consider having a spare non-portable telephone in your house or work in the event of an emergency in a power outage.

Can I call 911 from a fixed line in an emergency?

No. 911 is used by emergency services in the United States but cannot be used to call the Emergency Call Service in Australia.

Telephone numbers beginning with the 911 prefix (for example, 02 911x xxxx) have already been allocated by the ACMA and are being used by individuals and businesses. This means that if 911 is dialled, the system only recognises these digits as the first part of an existing number. Any diversion to the Emergency Call Service after 911 has been dialled is therefore not possible.

Can I contact my State Emergency Service (SES) by calling Triple Zero(000)?

No. Calls to 000 can only be transferred to police, fire or ambulance services. The telephone number for all SES units is 132 500, except in the Northern Territory where there is no state-wide telephone number.

What if I can’t speak English and need to call Triple Zero (000)?

Currently the 000 Emergency Call Service does not have the facilities to translate different languages at the point of answer.

If a caller to 000 is unable to speak English their call is transferred to the capital city police in the state they are calling from. The call will be transferred to the relevant emergency service organisation if the individual can only speak the words ‘Police, Fire or Ambulance’ but cannot give address details or explain the situation. Once connected to police, or the nominated emergency service, a translator will be organised if one is not immediately available.

What does the ACMA have to do with emergency services?

The ACMA regulates and monitors the provision of emergency call services. By law, the ACMA makes sure that the Emergency Call Persons (Telstra for 000 and 112 and ACE for 106), carriers and carriage service providers are meeting their responsibilities and obligations. Find out more about the ACMA’s role in relation to emergency call services. The ACMA’s regulatory role does not extend to the emergency service organisations that provide the emergency response.

What is the benefit of using the Emergency+ smartphone app to call Triple Zero (000)?

A significant advantage of using the Emergency+ smartphone app to call 000 is that if you do not know your exact location, it uses the existing GPS functionality of your smartphone to enable you to provide emergency call-takers with your location information as determined by your smartphone. 

The Emergency+ app also contains the contact numbers and a short explanation of when to call non-emergency numbers such as the Police Assistance Line (131 444) and the SES national number (132 500).  This is to help you to dial the correct number and reduce the number of calls to Triple Zero that should be directed to another service. 

The app was developed by the Triple Zero Awareness Work Group, a national body that represents emergency call-taking agencies and the government and industry partners throughout Australia. 

The Emergency+ app is available to download free of charge from the Google Play store and Apple App store.  


Last updated: 08 May 2017

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