Devastating bushfires, floods, cyclones and other natural disasters hit Australia every year destroying homes and impacting the livelihoods of many Australians.
As the country’s largest telecommunications provider we know we have a huge role to play in the community when it comes to facing disaster and emergency.
Our first priority is to assist the emergency and essential service organisations with their telecommunication requirements. Typically, our communications technicians are among the first to enter disaster affected areas to restore telecommunications services to our customers.
We also provide Satellite Cells on Wheels (SatCOWs) to boost coverage where it is needed and to support the coordination of the emergency services in a disaster situation.
But our commitment doesn’t stop there.
Assistance and alerts
We also provide assistance packages for people struggling with the aftermath of a disaster.
We provide assistance packages to thousands of customers affected by bushfires, severe storms, floods and tropical cyclones.
We make payphones free to use in disaster affected areas and provided a range of other community support measures including pre-paid handsets, recharge vouchers and access to broadband in evacuation centres.
Improvements to the Triple Zero (000) service, which is operated by Telstra, mean that emergency services organisations can now obtain automatic access to improved information about the location of people who dial Triple Zero (000) from a mobile phone. This enhanced information has the potential to save time in locating and reaching people in life-threatening emergency situations. We are working closely with emergency service organisations in each state and territory to facilitate the rollout of location information.
Domestic disaster relief
In 2014 we completed large-scale trials of LANES, the LTE Advanced Network for Emergency Services, a ground-breaking technology developed by Telstra to provide emergency services groups with reliable wireless broadband communications in emergency situations.
LANES technology enables us to separate a portion of spectrum that 4G network technology can operate on and offer this to emergency services for their exclusive use in times of emergency. This means no matter how many people are using the Telstra network, emergency services can have a dedicated ‘lane’ to carry their critical communications in 4G coverage areas.
Following the successful use of LANES technology to support police operations during the G20 Summit in Brisbane in November 2014, we were recognised with the Broadband for All: Outstanding LTE Contribution award at the 2015 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
International disaster relief
In many cases we also assist our customers wishing to check on family and friends affected by natural disasters by providing free voice calls and SMS for Telstra fixed line and post-paid mobile customers, and reimbursing pre-paid customers for all voice calls and SMS made during set disaster periods.
See our relief packages and international disaster response (PDF, 134KB)
Keeping in touch during an emergency
To make sure you are ready to respond if the worst happens, here are some useful tips and advice about keeping communication going during emergencies.
- Stay calm.
- You will be asked if you require police, fire or ambulance. Advise which emergency service you require.
- You will then be connected to an emergency call taker who will ask you a series of questions.
- If you are using a phone service where location details are not available (mobile or IP service) you will be asked to provide the Town and State details of the Emergency. This ensures you are connected to the correct locality for response by the Emergency Services.
- It is vital to provide the correct information so that the emergency service requested can attend your situation.
It is important to remember that these questions are asked to provide you with the best and fastest service for your needs. In time-critical situations the emergency services are being dispatched while you are being questioned. Your information will continue to be updated throughout the call.
When possible, it's recommended that you contact Emergency Services by dialling '000' from a fixed phone. This is because at any one time, network capacity, topography, climate and even the number of users in a particular location, can affect your ability to make a call using a mobile.
If your mobile phone is the only device available for making emergency calls, dial '000' or '112' to contact police, fire or ambulance services in Australia. Contact can be made even if your mobile has been blocked or your security settings have been activated.
If circumstances require it, consider carrying a specialised emergency communication device such as an HF, VHF or UHF radio, or a satellite phone.
Sending an SMS text message to a friend or family member in an emergency situation is not advised, as delivery cannot be guaranteed. For instance, the person you are trying to contact may not have their phone switched on or their battery may be flat. There is no capability to contact '000'; or '112'; by SMS.