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Monday, 30 March 1987
Page: 1747

(Question No. 4901)


Mr Halverson asked the Minister for Communications, upon notice, on 14 November 1986:

(1) What regulations or guidelines apply to the publication of material included in the ``Emergency Services-Personal'' information guide on the inside front cover of the Melbourne White Pages and Yellow Pages telephone directories.

(2) Does the entry for ``Gayline (Homosexual Telephone Counselling Service)'' comply with the regulations or guidelines.

(3) It is a fact that (a) ``Gayline'' is only manned between the hours of 6 pm to 11 pm Mondays to Saturdays and 7 pm to 10 pm on Sundays, (b) at all other times the number is answered with a recorded message and (c) most of the recorded message is devoted to providing callers with details of various homosexual groups and their activities.

(4) Does the recorded message and the information it provides meet the criteria for, or definition of, emergency or counselling services.

(5) What costs are associated with (a) the publication of the ``Gayline'' entry in the telephone directories and (b) the provision of the telephone service.

(6) Who is responsible for the payment of the costs referred to in part (5).

(7) Did the inclusion of this service result in the exclusion of other personal emergency service agencies or organisations from the personal emergency services guide; if so, which other agencies or organisations were excluded.


Mr Duffy —The answer to the honourable member's question, based on advice from the Australian Telecommunications Commission, is as follows:

(1) Telecom's guidelines currently used in determining eligibility of inclusion in the ``Emergency Services-Personal'' Section of the inner front cover of the Melbourne White Pages and Yellow pages directories are that

(i) the organisation could be expected to receive many calls requiring immediate personal assistance in cases where human life may be endangered, or serious damage to property is imminent;

(ii) the service should be staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days per week by staff suitably trained or qualified to deal with the nature of requests for the service. Referral or diversion to a competent organisation, and or person is permissible should there by any period where the service is not staffed continuously;

(iii) the service should cater for a wide coverage of the directory area and would take preference over localised services;

(iv) the service should receive calls for assistance in the order of 600 calls per month and additional lines are to be leased by the customer if the volume of incoming calls prevents immediate response.

(2) No. Telecom intends to move the Gayline reference to the Help Reference Page of the 1987 directory.

(3) (a) Yes; (b) Yes; (c) Generally, yes. However, in accordance with the guidelines the recorded message refers callers to other personal emergency service agencies.

(4) Not completely. (See the answer to Part 3 of the question for details)

(5) and (6) (a) The publication cost of the ``Gayline'' entry is not available as Telecom provides the information on the inside cover as a community service. (b) Standard charges are applied by Telecom and the account forwarded to the ``Gayline'' organisation.

(7) No.