Spotlight on the National Relay Service

The National Relay Service (NRS) is a free, Australia-wide phone service designed for people with hearing or speech disabilities to communicate through SMS, phone, and video. The Australian Government implemented the service in 1995, and since then thousands of Australians have used it to privately connect with emergency services, loved ones or to simply make a reservation at their favourite restaurant. 

Facts about the NRS: 

  • A call through the NRS lets you communicate with a hearing person who is using a phone even if you are unable to hear or cannot use your voice. 
  • Specially trained staff called Relay Officers help for the duration of the call, but will not change or get in the way of what is being said 
  • There are a wide variety of different relay services available allowing greater communication options – for example these can include Type and Read and Speak and Listen 
  • Except for calls made through Video Relay, the NRS is available 24 hours a day, every day. 
  • Depending on your hearing and speech, and the equipment you have, you can choose from one or more relay call types
  • All calls made using the NRS are confidential and user privacy is protected by law 
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An infographic of how a National Relay Call works.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has outlined each tool that can be used via the NRS to communicate: 


Also known as telephone typewriter or textphone; a specialised telephone which includes a keyboard and screen. 

Internet Relay:

A type of NRS call in which the user contacts the NRS using the internet from a computer or smartphone (via the NRS website or instant messaging) and the NRS relay officer relays the call to a landline, mobile phone or TTY. 

Captioned Relay:

A type of relay call in which the user makes a call using a landline and the relay operator re-speaks the other parties conversation which appears as text on a computer or phone screen a few seconds later. 

Video Relay:

A type of relay call where the user communicates with the relay operator in Auslan and the relay operator interprets the conversation to the hearing party. 

SMS Relay:

A type of relay call where the user communicates with the relay operator by SMS text and the relay operator speaks to the hearing party. 


The Queensland Government has instructional videos that can help if you are looking to use the service for the first time, or to assist someone in setting it up. 

National Relay Service User Registration

Preparing to make Video Relay Calls through the national Relay Service 

Making a Video Relay call through the National Relay Service

More Things to Know about Video Relay Calls 

For more information about the different services offered by the National Relay Service click here.

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Person in a wheelchair having a coffee while reading the paper. He is wearing a red vest and smiling at the camera.