ESTA External Review – AEAV Submission

On the 15th of December 2021, AEAV made a submission to the State Government’s Independent Capability and Service Review of the Emergency Services Telecommunication Authority.

The AEAV submission seeks to secure funding for ESTA that will go a long way towards restoring the morale of a workforce that is operating under increasing demands and pressures, with no relief in sight. Without reform to the Inspector-General Emergency Management (IGEM) standards and increased baseline staffing levels at ESTA, the high-quality delivery of publicly funded emergency telecommunication services cannot be sustained as seen through the COVID-19 pandemic.

AEAV seeks a funding framework that provides for a direct operating budget to increase baseline staffing levels with the goal to respond to all emergency calls within 5 seconds. Below are the six recommendations AEAV has made to the Government and you can read the full submission here.

The union would like to thank Delegate Sharyne Doensen (ESTA Tally Ho) who contributed many of her personal hours researching and contributing to the writing of this submission.

Recommendation 1:

The Government should establish policy for baseline staffing levels at ESTA that:

  • ensure there are enough call-takers and dispatchers to meet daily workload demands;
  • decrease the overreliance on overtime shifts to meet KPIs;
  • enable staff to access leave entitlements within reasonable time frames and;
  • promote staff welfare through minimal break recall.

Recommendation 2:

ESTA should implement rostered training days to support staff proficiency in call-taking and dispatching by:

  • ensuring workers are not rostered to take calls during training hours and;
  • call-takers are rostered to fill workers in training and;
  • allocate time for ancillary work.

Recommendation 3:

The Government should review and update IGEM standards to ensure benchmarks meet community expectation by:

  • directing ESTA to collaborate with EMV & IGEM under the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority Act 2004 to establish new benchmarks for answering calls and;
  • create new controls within ESTA’s reporting framework that requires ESTA to report performance in 30minute increments to IGEM.

Recommendation 4:

The Government should undertake a funding review of ESTA and set a direct operating budget to the service that includes:

  • future budget increases to meet population growth and community demand;
  • prepares for increased demand due to climate change emergencies and;
  • revisit the operating budget every two years with a process that embeds consultation with workers and their unions.

Recommendation 5:

ESTA should plan for a contemporary approach to manual operations during service shutdowns by:

  • revisiting the Victorian Auditor-General’s report into Victoria’s Emergency Response Information & Computer Technology systems and;
  • implementing a satisfactory system to respond to emergency calls during CAD outages.

Recommendation 6:

The Government should review the Erlang-C forecasting model for appropriateness in the emergency services environment by:

  • research modeling formulas used in other emergency response services to calculate appropriate resourcing.
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