Hansard debatesSearch Hansard
Anthony CARBINES (Ivanhoe – Minister for Police, Minister for Crime Prevention, Minister for Racing) (10:08): I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
I ask that my second-reading speech be incorporated into Hansard.
Incorporated speech as follows:
The Triple Zero Victoria Bill 2023 is a major component of the reform of Victoria’s triple zero service. The reform commenced in response to independent reviews into the capacity, capability, service delivery and financial sustainability of the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority also known as ESTA. The Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority Capability and Service Review, also referred to as the Capability and Service Review and the Inspector-General for Emergency Management (IGEM)’s Ambulance Call Answer Review referred to as the IGEM Review, both noted the sustained increase in demand on ETSA’s call-taking and dispatch capabilities, while finding that the governance arrangements and partnerships with the emergency services sector were not operating as intended.
The Capability and Service Review made 20 recommendations to transform ESTA’s governance, call-taking and dispatch (CTD) service, technology and managed services, intelligence services and performance standards, to address systemic issues within the organisation.
IGEM made eight recommendations, 42 findings and nine observations that speak to opportunities to ensure the sustainability of ESTA’s operations into the future, improve patient outcomes, and restore confidence in ESTA’s services. These recommendations align with those from the Ashton Review, specifically regarding governance, collaboration, performance standards, enhanced service delivery and training.
The Triple Zero Victoria Bill strengthens the governance, accountability and oversight of Victoria’s triple zero service, formalising a genuine partnership across the emergency services sector and brings the new entity closer to government.
The Bill will repeal the current Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority Act 2004 and ESTA, its Board and Advisory Committee will cease to exist upon the commencement of the Triple Zero Victoria Act. In its place will be a new entity, Triple Zero Victoria, a statutory authority with a sustainable and enduring organisational framework, that has clearly defined roles and accountabilities to support strong internal governance and with strengthened government oversight.
The focus of Triple Zero Victoria will be on delivering high quality and timely call taking and dispatch services and operational communications services. The new legislation is explicit in this focus, which will enable Triple Zero Victoria to support emergency services organisations to respond to community need and manage call taking and dispatch in times of peak demand.
The Bill enables the Minister for Emergency Services to confer additional functions related to the emergency management sector on Triple Zero Victoria, where it would be sensible do so, and for the time specified in the Ministerial Order. An example of this is non-emergency patient transport booking and dispatch services, which ESTA currently manage on behalf of Ambulance Victoria. Orders will be made to ensure that existing functions carried out by ESTA will be undertaken by Triple Zero Victoria from the first day of operation, to allow for a seamless transition.
The Triple Zero Victoria Bill has achieved the intent of the key recommendations in the Capability and Service Review and the IGEM Review to implement organisational change to bring the new Triple Zero Victoria entity closer to government. The Bill provides stronger governance with explicit responsibilities for the Triple Zero Victoria Board and CEO. The Bill also provides for strengthened oversight of the Board and the CEO by the Minister and the Justice Secretary.
The Triple Zero Victoria Board has a clear legislated focus on setting the strategic direction for Triple Zero Victoria, management of risks, setting the organisational framework and culture and ensuring the delivery of agreed performance standards.
In the event of underperformance by the Board, the Minister has the power to appoint up to two delegates to the Board in order to improve and strengthen the performance of Triple Zero Victoria.
Victoria is unique in Australian jurisdictions in that the triple zero call taking and dispatch service is managed by a central organisation, and not by individual emergency services organisations. Therefore the cooperation, coordination and partnerships between Triple Zero Victoria, emergency service organisations and government are paramount to ensure appropriate responsiveness to community health and public safety needs.
The Bill strengthens the cooperation and partnerships between Victoria’s triple zero service and the emergency services sector. The Bill provides for the establishment of the Operational Committee which ensures that emergency services organisations and key government departments are engaged in the setting and delivery of strategic priorities of Triple Zero Victoria.
The Operational Committee will set inter-agency strategic priorities which will provide a strong foundation to explore and address critical aspects of the services delivered by Triple Zero Victoria to ensure they remain fit for purpose. The identification of known risks that may impact emergency services organisations, Triple Zero Victoria or the community will be an important role for the Committee who will have the opportunity to provide the Board with advice on how these can be mitigated.
Recognising that Triple Zero Victoria must be more integrated with government, the Board must report to the Minister for Emergency Service and the Justice Secretary, at intervals set by the Minister or Justice Secretary about the performance of Triple Zero Victoria. The issues that the Board must report on include any concerns about Triple Zero Victoria’s performance, particularly in relation to the impact this could have on community safety, the ability of emergency services organisations to deliver their services or the services delivered by Triple Zero Victoria. Identification, management and mitigation of risks to services are also matters that the Board must report on.
A key part of the reform package is to ensure that there is a clear relationship between the Minister for Emergency Services and the CEO which does not conflict with the Board’s relationship with the Minister for Emergency Services. While it is not intended that there be formal reporting lines to the Minister for Emergency Services, it is contemplated that the CEO will engage directly with the Minister for Emergency Services where necessary. The Bill also allows the CEO to engage with the Justice Secretary in these circumstances. This will enable the Minister, the department and the CEO to engage with one another when necessary, without having to await formal Board approval for each interaction. This is expected to be particularly beneficial at times of crisis.
In order to remove any ambiguity about how the interface between Triple Zero Victoria and government should operate, the Bill sets out role and powers of the Minister for Emergency Services. Some of these powers, such as the approval of an organisational strategic plan or the selection of Board members, must be exercised in consultation with the Minister for Ambulance Services and the Minister for Police. This will ensure that the needs of all emergency services organisations are considered.
In order to strengthen the relationship between Triple Zero Victoria and government, the Justice Secretary has legislated accountabilities. This includes directions powers limited to administrative functions such as strategic planning and policies, workforce management and financial management. The Justice Secretary will also be required to endorse Triple Zero Victoria’s budget prior to approval by the Board. This is an important step in strengthening the financial sustainability of Triple Zero Victoria.
Both Reviews recommended that Victoria’s triple zero service becomes more accountable by considering the performance of triple zero services in the context of an ‘end-to-end’ process of incident management. This will drive behaviours which encourage efficiencies while reducing the focus on targets which do not directly measure the quality or outcome of a service to emergency services organisations or the community. The Capability and Service Review also recommended that the responsibility for approving performance standards is shifted from the IGEM.
The Bill includes provisions that empower the Emergency Management Commissioner to set performance standards that are endorsed by the Minister for Emergency Services. These outcome-based standards will be developed in consultation with Triple Zero Victoria, emergency services organisations, government departments and any other related organisation. These performance standards will be reviewed at least every five years in order to ensure that the standards remain fit for purpose as the Triple Zero Victoria entity matures, the needs of the Victorian community alter and technology changes.
Independent monitoring and assurance of the performance standards will continue to be the responsibility of the Inspector-General for Emergency Management. Where performance standards relate to Ambulance Victoria or the health services sector, the IGEM will be required to consult with Safer Care Victoria.
Triple Zero Victoria will be required to publish data relating to these performance standards on its website, to further strengthen transparency and oversight.
Under the new legislation Triple Zero Victoria will no longer receive annual revenue through a fee for service model and there is no provision for Triple Zero Victoria to charge fees for their services in the future. The Bill does not prevent Triple Zero Victoria from entering into a contractual arrangement or agreement that includes charges. Moving towards a direct appropriation model will also create financial certainty for the emergency services organisations.
I commend the Bill to the house.