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‘Save lives. Save 000 for emergencies’.

The challenge:  Conduct a Facilitated Forum Dialogue with key stakeholders

Partner: The Shannon Company

Year: 2017

Calls to 000 are increasing faster than the population is growing. In 2015/16, while Victoria’s population grew by 1.7%, requests for ambulances grew by 5.7%.

While many of these calls are genuine, non-emergency calls take resources away from where they are needed.

To reduce the number of non-emergency calls to 000 and free up paramedics to respond to genuine, life-threatening situations, the Victorian Government asked The Shannon Company to come up with a communications campaign.

What did we do?

BehaviourWorks was engaged to conduct a Faciliated Dialogue with stakeholders representing Ambulance Victoria, The Victorian Department of Health and the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority, marketing firms and behavioural experts.

Participants were first asked to review the results of a rapid literature and practice review, which looked at how other governments around the world had dealt with the issue.

The group agreed that the best way forward was to talk about the importance of Ambulance Victoria, it’s role in keeping Victorians safe and a broader message about the suite of services available.

Rather than a ‘shock and awe’ style, it’s about shifting the social norm from ‘is there whenever you feel like calling’ to ‘only use this in an emergency’.

Directed messaging

Victoria’s Better Health Channel website lists a range of immediate and life-threatening symptoms that constitute an emergency, such as extreme pain, numbness, burns, bleeding, serious accidents and unconsciousness.

So, if people are in doubt, they should call 000. If the paramedic they speak to decides it’s not a health emergency, they’ll be referred elsewhere. And if people know it’s not an emergency, they shouldn’t call 000 at all.

The campaign

The first phase of the campaign, produced by The Shannon Company, featured the story of Will, a young boy whose life was saved by local and mobile Intensive Care Ambulance paramedics.

The aim of the campaign was to shift community attitudes using the tagline: Save Lives. Save 000 for Emergencies.

A second phase of the campaign profiled a team of healthcare professionals (Nurse on Call, GP and Pharmacist) who, alongside an ambulance paramedic, are available to help Victorians with non-emergency health issues.


BehaviourWorks is  involved in the monitoring and evaluation of the campaign.

Early indications suggest however that Victorians are starting to change their behaviour.

Shortly after the second campaign began, calls to 000 decreased and calls to Nurse on Call increased.