From 25 July 2007, people in the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Western Australia can call a 24 hours a day, seven days a week call centre for health advice.
The number for the National Health Call Centre Network – HealthDirect Australia – is 1800 022 222.
Calls to existing call centres within the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Western Australia will be redirected to HealthDirect Australia.
HealthDirect Australia, once fully operational, will allow anyone anywhere in Australia to seek health advice from a registered nurse ensuring people have access to the health information they need, when they need it.
At present, South Australians calling Flinders Medical Centre or Noarlunga Hospital seeking health triage, information or advice are transferred to HealthDirect Australia. As the service in South Australia builds over the coming months, people will be able to directly call HealthDirect Australia for assistance.
As part of an agreed transition plan, access to HealthDirect Australia services will be available in New South Wales from August 2008, when the network will be providing services to all states and territories that have formally committed to the network.
The national network will be rolled out across Australia in stages, with national coverage achieved within four years, in line with the agreement made by all governments at the Council of Australian Governments meeting in February 2006.
The Commonwealth Government, together with the governments of the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia, have met their commitment to provide first calls in July 2007 through the new network. It will have the capacity to provide free health information and advice to all Australians before 2011.
The shareholder governments have established a company, National Health Call Centre Network Ltd, to be responsible for managing HealthDirect Australia and have appointed its first board of directors.
The company has its key staff and infrastructure in place and established interim arrangements for delivery of services for HealthDirect Australia. It will shortly call for tenders for long-term service delivery nationally.
The National Health Call Centre Network initiative is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and participating states and territories. Over four years from 2006-07, the Commonwealth will provide $96 million, with the states and territories providing $80 million.
Up to an additional $20 million, funded equally by the Commonwealth Government and participating states and territories, will enable HealthDirect Australia to support mental health services.