Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 10 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 3314..
MS MacDONALD (continuing):
and, importantly, provide the contact details of CEAS, or the Canberra Emergency Accommodation Service, to the people who need them the most.
The CEAS service is an integral part of the Canberra community. The service allows people in need to call a single telephone number to receive information and gain access to emergency accommodation provided by a range of shelters across Canberra. It is a simple idea but one that has helped those in need of accommodation greatly. CEAS is a partnership between Lifeline Canberra and Anglicare. Lifeline's CEAS crisis line provides 24-hour, seven day a week counselling, referrals and support to homeless people or those facing homelessness. Anglicare operates the CEAS fund, which assists homeless people with accommodation and case management.
I wanted to raise that with the Assembly and say that I think this is a great idea. There was much mirth, especially when Amanda Tobler did a photo for the Canberra Times holding up a couple of pairs of socks next to her head, showing off the number. I understand there are now discussions in place about a CEAS scarf and a CEAS hat. There are CEAS key rings. If anybody wants one of those they gave me a stack of them when I walked out. I have more than I can use; that is for sure. I think this is a great initiative, if a novel concept. I commend the work Lifeline and Anglicare do through the CEAS service and wish them the best of luck. They have printed 600 socks, which will be going out to a number of shelters. I am sure they will come in for great use. You never know: they might end up printing another lot.
MR PRATT (Brindabella) (10.43): I rise to talk on a couple of matters. Firstly, there is a very interesting story-and it may be something that needs to be taken note of quickly by all of us here in the Assembly-about the ambulance service. I notice they are concerned that the two operators they have operating in the ambulance operations centre are now feeling the strain. I see there is a call from the TWU and members of the service to have something done to relieve the pressure they are clearly operating under.
As we know, the operators who run the call centre often have to give advice and almost administer, virtually if you like, medical advice over the phone. So clearly the operators at these call centres need to be seasoned and experienced ambulance officers who have been there and done that on the ground, not simply telephone operators. The concern is that people being trained in the five-week course available may not necessarily be that skilled and have the breadth of experience to be able to do that competently. So there is concern being expressed by the service about that. I would ask the minister to have a listen to their concerns. It could be that the minister and the ambulance service have a good grip on this and it may not be the concern that we see expressed in the paper. But when I see a couple of ambulance officers expressing a concern, and the TWU doing that on their behalf, then I believe it is a serious matter that needs to be examined.
They say, for example, that in 1994-95 there were 13,739 call-outs for the ambulance service. In 2003-04 that had expanded to 27,000; that is 10 per cent per year over a nine-year period. The disturbing thing is that the number of operators running the call centre has only ever been two. So their strength has remained static and I think that is a matter of concern. I was pleased to see that the ambulance service is going to try and