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What does 000 mean?

000 is a common emergency telephone number used in many countries around the world to contact emergency services for immediate assistance. Dialing 000 will connect you to an emergency dispatcher who can send police, firefighters, ambulance or other first responders to help in any kind of emergency situation.

Emergency Services Accessed through 000

When you call 000, the emergency dispatcher will ask you which service you need – police, fire or ambulance. 000 can summon the following emergency services:

  • Police – For crime reports, violence, suspicious behavior etc.
  • Fire department – For fires, smoke, hazardous material spills etc.
  • Ambulance – For medical emergencies, injuries, accidents etc.

Depending on the nature of your emergency, the dispatcher will connect you to the relevant department so they can assist you as fast as possible. The 000 operator may also conference in other agencies if needed, for example if both police and ambulance need to respond.

When to Call 000

000 should only be called in serious or life-threatening emergency situations where immediate assistance is needed. Examples include:

  • A crime is in progress – robbery, assault, domestic violence etc.
  • There is a fire
  • A serious medical emergency – heart attack, seizure, severe injury, loss of consciousness etc.
  • Someone’s safety or property is being threatened
  • Suspicious or dangerous behavior

Calling 000 alerts emergency services to the most critical situations so they can act fast to help. It should not be used for general information or non-urgent matters.

How 000 Works

When you dial 000 on any phone in Australia, your call is answered by an emergency call center operated by Telstra. They will ask if you need police, fire or ambulance and connect you to an emergency dispatcher for your state or territory. Here’s an overview of how 000 calls work:

  1. Dial 000 on any fixed line or mobile phone in Australia.
  2. The Telstra operator will ask if you need Police, Fire or Ambulance.
  3. Your call is connected to the emergency service control room for your area.
  4. An emergency dispatcher obtains details about your situation and location.
  5. The relevant police, fire or ambulance units are notified to respond.
  6. The dispatcher remains on the line to give instructions and gather more info until help arrives.

When you call 000, your phone number and location details are automatically displayed to the emergency call center. This helps identify where you are calling from if you are unable to speak or do not know your location.

Calling 000 from Landlines vs Mobile Phones

000 calls are handled slightly differently depending on whether you are ringing from a landline or a mobile phone:

  • Landline – Your physical address is automatically displayed to emergency services. Stay on the line so if the call drops out, they can call you back.
  • Mobile Phone – Your rough GPS coordinates are displayed. Give details of where you are located. You may be transferred between agencies if you move locations.

Silent and Accidental 000 Calls

If you dial 000 by accident or make a silent call, stay on the line. The emergency call center will attempt to make contact with you and call you back if the call drops out. If you do not respond, police can be dispatched to your location to make sure you are okay.

000 Call Takers and Dispatchers

000 calls are handled by highly trained call takers and dispatchers who work in secured emergency operations centers. They are ready to manage any kind of emergency situation 24/7.

000 Call Takers

The primary role of a 000 call taker is to obtain all the critical details about an emergency as quickly as possible. They will ask you the nature of the incident, the location, who/what is involved, weapons present etc. This information helps them determine the appropriate emergency response units to dispatch. 000 call takers are specially trained to remain calm and collect vital information even when callers may be distressed, confused or in shock.

Emergency Service Dispatchers

Once the 000 call taker has taken down the key details, they will connect you to a dispatcher for the relevant emergency service (police, fire or ambulance). The dispatcher will communicate with crews on the ground to coordinate the emergency response. They remain on the line with callers until help arrives, providing emergency instructions and gathering further details about how the situation is unfolding so responders know what they will face on the scene.

000 Accessibility for Those with Impairments

000 emergency calls can be accessed through the National Relay Service (NRS) by those who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech impairments. Specially trained NRS operators will relay your conversation with 000 word for word.

To access 000 via the NRS:

  • TTY users dial 106
  • Speak & Listen users dial 1300 555 727 then ask for 000
  • Internet relay users connect to the NRS then ask for 000
  • SMS relay users send an SMS to 0423 677 767

When using the NRS, be prepared to give your name, location and details of your emergency. The NRS operator will sign and speak this information to the 000 dispatcher.

Language Assistance When Calling 000

If you need a translator when calling 000, say the language you need assistance in. An interpreter will be arranged and a 3-way conversation can take place between you, the interpreter and the 000 operator.

Over 200 languages are supported through the 000 translating service. Some of the most common languages include:

  • Arabic
  • Cantonese
  • Mandarin
  • Greek
  • Italian
  • Vietnamese
  • Spanish
  • Hindi

Let the 000 operator know immediately if you need an interpreter so one can be organized with minimal delay.

Calling 000 from International Numbers

People calling 000 from international numbers will first hear a message advising that they have dialed an Australian emergency number. There will be options to select the police, ambulance or fire service. Selecting one of these options will connect you to an operator who can assist as best they can for an international emergency.

However, keep in mind 000 is primarily designed for emergencies within Australia. International callers won’t be automatically transferred to local emergency services in their country. You need to dial the emergency number used specifically in your location for the fastest response.

Charges for Calling 000

Calling 000 from any phone within Australia is free of charge – you will not be billed for any 000 calls from your landline or mobile. Emergency 000 calls can be made even from payphones without needing to pay money or insert a card.

Making back to back calls to 000 will also not cost anything. Operators understand you may get cut off or need to call again during an ongoing emergency.

Misuse and Accidental Misdials of 000

Given 000 connects you to emergency services for urgent, life-threatening situations, it is an offense to misuse 000 intentionally. When genuine emergencies occur, misdials and hoax calls can delay response times and prevent people getting help when they really need it. Misuse can attract penalties such as fines or even jail time.

However accidents do happen. Around 30% of 000 calls are unintentional misdials – especially from mobile phones. If you misdial 000, do NOT hang up. Explain to the operator it was an error so they don’t have to call you back or possibly send police to check if help is needed. Stay on the line until the operator has confirmed it was only a mistake.

Tips for Calling 000 in an Emergency

When faced with an emergency, remember these tips for calling 000 effectively:

  • Stay calm – Speak slowly, clearly and answer questions carefully.
  • Be prepared – Have important details like your address ready.
  • Give concise details – Quickly explain the nature of your emergency.
  • Allow operator to guide – They will ask questions to obtain vital information.
  • Stay on the line – Don’t hang up until emergency services reach you.
  • Be patient – Operators deal with calls strictly by priority.

Treating 000 operators with courtesy and respect can help get the critical assistance you need in the quickest time frame during any emergency.

000 Emergency Numbers by State

While 000 can be dialed nationally, each state and territory in Australia also have their own emergency service numbers that operate in parallel with 000. However 000 remains the primary national emergency number.

State/Territory Emergency Number
New South Wales 112
Victoria 112
Queensland 112
Western Australia 112
South Australia 112
Tasmania 112
Australian Capital Territory 112
Northern Territory 112

So in summary, no matter which state or territory you are in, dialling 000 or 112 will connect you to emergency services in Australia.

Alternatives to 000 for Non-Urgent Police Matters

For police assistance with non-emergency issues, each state/territory also has a dedicated police assistance line that operates 24/7:

State/Territory Non-Urgent Police Assistance
New South Wales 131 444
Victoria 131 444
Queensland 131 444
Western Australia 131 444
South Australia 131 444
Tasmania 131 444
Australian Capital Territory 131 444
Northern Territory 131 444

So for any non-urgent matters requiring police, contact 131 444 rather than 000. Examples include giving crime information tips, checking lost property, general police enquiries etc.

000 Emergency App

In addition to calling 000, another way to contact emergency services is via the Triple Zero Emergency app developed by Australia’s Emergency Call Service. The app provides an additional option for getting in touch with police, fire and ambulance services in any type of emergency.

The key features and functions of the 000 Emergency App include:

  • One touch calling – Press one button to call 000.
  • Location accuracy – Uses GPS technology to pinpoint your location.
  • Information sharing – Ability to share info like photos during the call.
  • Accessibility – Options for deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired.

The app can be downloaded free on iPhone and Android. It provides enhanced emergency features, especially for situations when making a phone call may be difficult or dangerous.

History of 000 in Australia

000 has been the primary national emergency number across Australia for over 50 years. Here are some key facts on the history and origins of dialling 000 in Australia:

  • 1961 – Australia’s first national emergency call service was launched, using the number 333.
  • 1963 – Number changed from 333 to 111 for emergency calls.
  • 1967 – Australia shifted to the current 000 number.
  • 1976 – Fully automated system for calls to 000 introduced.
  • 1999 – Two separate national call centers established, run by Telstra.
  • 2009 – Full smart phone compatibility for 000 added.

Right from the late 1960s, using 000 for emergencies has been promoted through public awareness campaigns. Calling 000 has become deeply ingrained in Australian culture as the number you dial when needing urgent help from fire, police or ambulance.

000 vs 911 and 999

While 000 is the standard emergency number in Australia and some other countries, other common emergency numbers around the world include:

  • 911 – Used primarily in North America including USA and Canada.
  • 999 – Main emergency number in United Kingdom and several other countries.
  • 112 – A standardized medical, fire and police emergency number across the European Union and on GSM mobile networks.

So in different countries, the most widely promoted 3 digit emergency number varies. This can be a source of confusion for international travellers not realizing they need to dial 000 for emergencies in Australia, and 911 when visiting the USA or Canada for example.

Emergency + App for Travellers

To help avoid issues accessing emergency services internationally, many countries have adopted the specially designated GSM mobile roaming number +112. When travelling overseas, dialing +112 on your mobile will connect you to emergency services in any country you are visiting, even if you don’t have mobile reception or credit. This temporary universal emergency number works worldwide across over 200 countries.

Some smartphone models also have an Emergency+ app pre-installed that uses +112 to quickly call emergency services abroad with a single tap. However, given +112 support can be patchy depending on your phone model and mobile carrier, +000 is still the most reliable emergency number within Australia.


000 has become deeply ingrained in Australian society as the number to call when faced with any short of emergency or life-threatening situation. Whether you need urgent police, fire or ambulance assistance, dialing 000 will trigger the fastest response from emergency services 24/7. Calls are handled by specialized operators trained to manage the most serious incidents. Knowing when and how to call 000 can literally save lives, so it’s important to understand the proper use of this vital service.