Vic triple-zero service boss decides to call it quits

·1-min read

Victoria's triple-zero call-taking service is losing its boss after rebounding from the COVID-19 crisis.

Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority chief executive Stephen Leane has told the state government he doesn't plan to renew his contract when it expires at the end of July.

The former 40-year Victoria Police veteran and road safety camera commissioner will also step down from the authority's board.

Mr Leane became chief executive of ESTA in April last year, having served as interim head from October 2021 as the service was thrown into disarray when COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed in the state.

Response times in Victoria hit record lows during the first Omicron wave in January 2022, and a report by the Inspector-General for Emergency Management linked 33 deaths to call delays.

It found the Victorian government was aware of ESTA's precarious financial position as early as 2015 and had not settled on a sustainable funding model despite 10 years of work.

Another review, led by former Victoria Police chief commissioner Graham Ashton, found "continued and systematic underperformance" and called for the service to be rebranded, brought under government control and its board disbanded.

All recommendations from the reports were accepted by the state government, and response times have since improved after demand eased.

Emergency Services Minister Jaclyn Symes said Mr Leane played a pivotal role in leading the organisation through the COVID-19 pandemic and October 2022 flood event.

Mr Leane will start previously planned leave from late May until the end of his contract, with deputy chief executive Debra Abbott to officially take over the top job from July 31.