Tasmania’s government opened a new call centre near Hobart on 17 April to increase the capacity of the Public Health Hotline to communicate with the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CAPTION: Senior Constable Jess Renton Private Nicholas Rheinberger, Corporal Nathaniel Wood, Sergeant Tim Stevens, Manager of COVID-19 Response Unit Bel Stevanovich, Acting Sergeant Alicia Spehr, Corporal Elizabeth Brookes and call centre operator Debra Shorrock at the Tasmania Public Health Hotline call centre, Hobart. Photo by Chris Kidd. Story by Flying Officer Claire Burnet.
Army personnel from Tasmania’s Joint Task Group 629.5 (JTG 629.5) and members of Tasmania Police are supporting the State Department of Health’s contact tracing team at the call centre.
Commander of JTG 629.5 Colonel David Hughes said the Australian Defence Force was contributing to the whole-of-government response to the COVID-19 pandemic with a range of personnel and logistics support.
“Our ADF contact tracing teams in Tasmania are supporting the state in understanding how this infectious disease may be spreading in our community,” Colonel Hughes said.
“Contact tracing seeks to determine who a sick person caught an illness from, and to find out who they’ve been in contact with while infectious.”
ADF personnel are also providing assistance with Tasmania Police’s quarantine compliance checks across the Devonport-Burnie and greater Launceston regions, and recently concluded assistance to the Hobart region.
ADF medical personnel, including general duties medical officers, emergency nurses, a pharmacist, radiographer and an environmental health officer – among many other professionals – are also providing support to Burnie’s North West Regional Hospital’s emergency department
The new call centre has a capacity for up to 50 call-takers, almost doubling the state’s call centre capacity dedicated to the emergency. It provides critical information to the community, links people to assistance – such as emergency accommodation and financial support – and coordinates requests for COVID-19 testing.
The new call centre will allow the existing capability to be split over two sites, which provides a critical redundancy should one of the sites become unavailable for any reason.
The teams operating across each site do not physically interact, which helps to ensure the call centre function can continue if a COVID-19 case is identified in either facility.