People with a serious illness may need emergency help. To make sure their phone is working and reliable, they can apply for 'priority assistance'.
If you have priority assistance, your telco must:
- connect your standard landline service faster than other customers
- fix faults within 24 hours in urban and rural areas or within 48 hours in remote areas
- test your phone service if you have 2 or more faults in 3 months
You are eligible if you have a landline and someone in your household has a medical condition and:
- it is possible for the condition to get worse so fast it becomes life-threatening
- calling an ambulance or speaking on the phone to a medical professional could save the person’s life
You may need proof from a doctor that you are being treated for a medical condition that is eligible.
The full list of medical conditions is in the appendix of the Priority Assistance Code. It includes patients:
- with severe asthma
- at risk of anaphylaxis
- with cardiovascular illnesses
- with a high-risk pregnancy
- with life-threatening hypoglycaemia or epilepsy
- on respirators or dialysis at home
- with severe mental health disorders
You may also be eligible if you have another serious condition and live alone or in a remote location.
How to apply for priority assistance
Ask your telco. Only Telstra must offer priority assistance to customers as a condition of its licence. It is optional for all other telcos.
When you become a customer, the telco must tell you if they do not offer priority assistance. They must also tell you which telcos do offer it.
All telcos apart from Telstra must follow the Priority Assistance Code. Telstra has rules to follow in its carrier licence.
If you have priority assistance
You need to tell your telco if:
- you move to a new address
- you change your name
- your medical condition changes and you are no longer eligible for priority assistance
Priority assistance aims to give you the best landline service available. However, telcos cannot guarantee that a landline will always be available in an emergency.