In this issue:                                                                    May, 2013

MAV Strategic Work Plan 2013-14 – Emergency management
MAV State Council – Emergency management resolutions
Gender and emergency management
Sirens pilot – Independent evaluation report
Bushfire CRC
AFAC annual conference
SES news
Translation and interpreting studies short course
Extreme heat and CALD communities
Pictorial Community Safety Action Guides

MAV Strategic Work Plan 2013-14 – Emergency management

The MAV strategic plan 2013-14 sets out the state of play for Victorian local government in the short, medium and long term. The broad work plan addresses core issues affecting councils in Victoria. Actions are based on their capacity to assist our members to effectively and efficiently carry out their operations.

Eight consultation sessions were conducted in seven locations across Victoria to inform the development of the strategic work plan. A draft was circulated to members for their feedback ahead of the plan being put to the State Council meeting for endorsement on 16 May.

A small number of matters were identified as high priority. These are based on issues consistently identified by members through consultation sessions and assessed as rating highly against the following criteria:

  • magnitude of impact the issue is likely to have on councils and their communities
  • number of councils affected by the issue
  • political ramifications of the issue for effective intergovernmental cooperation
  • immediacy of the issue
  • likelihood of influencing an outcome in local government’s favour.

Specific to emergency management, the MAV strategic work plan outlines three broad priorities:

Victorian Government reform program – Emergency Management White Paper

  • Facilitate MAV and sector involvement in the first stage of reforms
  • Advocate for the development of legislation and actions that practically recognise the role, strengths and capability of local government
  • Develop and implement the MAV White Paper Work Plan in line with the priorities of the Victorian Government

Improving emergency management in local government program

  • Continue the implementation of improvement projects
  • Continue engagement with the Office of the Emergency Services Commissioner (OESC) regarding the development and trial of the self-assessment and quality assurance tool
  • Conduct legislative workshops with councils to develop positions on the proposed and potential legislative reform related to the White Paper process

Sector improvement programs

  • Progress the Cluster Pilot Project to develop a shared services emergency management model with a selected cluster of municipalities
  • Develop and implement a gender in emergency management strategy
  • Improve the functionality of the MECC Central Incident Management Software used in managing requests during and following an emergency

The MAV will report its achievements against this plan in its 2013-14 annual report.

MAV State Council – Emergency management resolutions

State Council is the MAV’s governing body. It is made up of representatives from each Victorian council. It meets twice a year, or more if needed. Members can submit motions to be considered by the State Council in accordance with the MAV rules.

When passed, resolutions are assessed by the Board to determine how they will be progressed. Updates on the progress made against each resolution are sent to members before the next State Council meeting.

At the May State Council meeting, six motions related to emergency management were passed on the following topics:

  • Changes to natural disaster relief and recovery arrangements
  • Victorian emergency management reforms and the role of local government
  • Community alert sirens
  • Fire services levy funding
  • Fire services levy communications
  • Bushfire Management Overlay review

The full set of resolutions for May 2013 are available on our website.

Gender and emergency management

MAV Gender and emergency management strategy

The MAV has developed a gender and emergency management strategy which aims to reduce the negative consequences of gender-blind practices. The strategy was approved by the MAV Board on 3 May.

To help implement this strategy we are seeking nominations from individuals to become a member of a new gender and emergency management advisory group. This group will meet to discuss how the project can be implemented to effectively meet its objectives.

If you would like to nominate to be on this advisory group, or would like further information please contact Martijn Gough.

Australian Journal of Emergency Management – Gender focused edition

The latest edition of the Australian Journal of Emergency Management (AJEM) is out now.

This special edition of AJEM recognises that the socially constructed roles, behaviours and attributes of men and women have significant implications across all aspects of emergency management.

It also contains an article on the MAV’s gender and emergency management strategy, including practical actions local government can take to help incorporate gender into emergency management policy, planning, decision-making and service delivery.

For broader information and practical resources on preventing violence against women and reducing gender inequality visit the gender equity page on our website.

Sirens pilot – Independent evaluation report

An interim independent evaluation of the community alert sirens pilot has been completed. The Fire Services Commissioner initiated the Community Alert Sirens (CAS) pilot project to develop and test technical aspects for the operation of CASs and the implementation of the Government’s Sirens Policy.

The pilot program involved 46 separate sirens across 36 communities in 13 municipalities. The project is based on a phased implementation of the sites from existing brigade-use-only siren operation to combined brigade/community warning.

The independent report defined the effectiveness of the pilot against the project objectives, the guiding principles and the Sirens Policy. The evaluation found that:

  • an effective system of governance was established
  • the willingness of disparate agencies to work collaboratively was one of the keys to the success of the project
  • the project proved that CASs can be successfully installed and operated
  • the identification and resolution of the complex and varied technical issues involved were achieved within difficult timelines, with most of the pilot sites declared operational by the end of March 2013
  • community education, training and consultation have not yet been completed, and
  • the roles of various agencies involved in the pilot (the multi-agency operational and technical design working groups, CFA, DSE, SES, councils, the Fire Services Commissioner and the community) were evaluated. Without exception, staff from each of them performed as expected (and in some cases, better.)

Bushfire CRC

Fire impact and risk evaluation

A software program has been developed that can be used to understand the potential affect a bushfire may have on community assets, infrastructure and people.

The Fire Impact and Risk Evaluation Decision Support Tool (FireDST) is a simulation system that aims to provide critical fire planning information to emergency services, government and the public. FireDST is explained in the Bushfire CRC's Fire Note 109, Fire Impact and risk evaluation.

FireDST demonstrates the ability to predict the probabilities of both neighbourhood and house loss, as well as the potential health impacts of bushfire smoke and the areas that are likely to be affected by a bushfire.

Promoting bushfire preparedness

Despite the significant resources devoted to bushfire public education, people living in at-risk communities continue to demonstrate a reluctance to adopt bushfire preparedness measures when these measures are communicated through passive, information-based approaches.

The Bushfire CRC’s Fire Note 107, Promoting community bushfire preparedness, discusses an action research program that was developed around the Tasmania Fire Service’s Community Development Pilot. Findings from the pilot have facilitated the wider adoption and implementation of community engagement principals into broader Tasmania Fire Service community education programs.

AFAC annual conference

The Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) annual conference will be held from 2 to 5 September at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. The theme for 2013 is ‘Shaping Tomorrow Together’.

The conference and concurrent trade exhibition will provide delegates with the opportunity to be informed on a range of contemporary and future fire management issues from local and international experts.

For further information about the conference visit the AFAC website.

SES news

SES shares flood intelligence

During FloodSafe Week (6 to 12 May) Victoria State Emergency Service (SES) released a range of resources aimed at helping local communities understand their flood risk.

New Local Flood Guides and Municipal Flood Emergency Plans capture lessons learned from previous events and provide the information communities need to prepare themselves for flooding. SES staff and volunteers have worked with councils and catchment management authorities to create these plans.

The new resources translate flood intelligence into specific, understandable and localised information.

Local Flood Guides are being created for communities that are at a high risk of flooding, have suffered severe flooding in the past, or have specifically requested one. Guides are targeted at the community and include practical tips on what to expect from flooding at a local level and how people can prepare.

Municipal Flood Emergency Plans provide a detailed outline of the potential impact of floods and what processes will be followed to combat and prevent the consequences. They include information on probable flood heights, expected local impacts and steps that can be taken to plan a response. The 14 completed plans are available to the public online. The SES is working towards a plan being in place for all 79 Victorian councils by the end of June 2014.

Play the FloodSafe game

A new interactive game to help children and families learn about the dangerous things lurking in floodwater was launched during FloodSafe Week.

The FloodSafe game - which can be played on a computer or tablet - is part of a new-look section on the SES website for students, which was also launched in FloodSafe Week.

This year's FloodSafe campaign aimed to remind adults and children alike that floodwater is a dangerous place to swim and play. Not only because people can drown in floodwater, but because floodwater contains dangerous and harmful substances like animal faeces and toxic chemicals, sharp objects like glass and barbed wire and things like used disposable nappies, dead and decaying animals and medical waste.

Research has shown that children and teenagers are particularly vulnerable in an emergency such as a flood and need to be educated and reminded of the risks. Males between 15 and their late 20s are particularly exposed due to high risk-taking behaviour.

Victoria SES goes mobile

SES has launched its new mobile website. One third of visitors accessing during an emergency use a mobile device, and this trend is increasing. The new SES mobile website features a responsive design that automatically sizes itself based on the screen it is viewed on.

The site offers a range of information aimed at helping Victorians prepare for the threat of flood, storm, earthquake and tsunami in their community.

Translation and interpreting studies short course

The Translation and Interpreting Studies Program at Monash University, supported by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship and the Victorian Department of Health, has announced that five professional development short courses will be offered in June/July in Melbourne.

One of these courses focuses on emergency services interpreting, and is intended for emergency services employees (MFB, CFA, Ambulance Victoria, Victoria Police) who work with interpreters or whose work includes contact with Victoria’s linguistically diverse communities.

This short course will feature an explanation of the roles and functions of both emergency services and interpreters and will have two streams that are designed to provide information to each group about the work of the other.

The short course is scheduled to be held on Tuesday 16 July from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm and consists of six hours of face-to-face learning activities and two hours of online/homework activities.

Further information including application forms is available at the Monash University Translating and Interpreting website.

Extreme heat and CALD communities

A new research report Extreme heat and climate change: Adaptation in culturally and linguistically diverse communities has been released. The report, a collaboration between the University of Adelaide and the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility finds that:

  • providing information to new migrants and refugees about climate change risks in Australia and ways to sustain health during extreme heat will assist in overcoming barriers in vulnerable sectors of communities, and
  • promoting social connectedness will facilitate a more inclusive approach to climate change adaptation.

An outcome from this translational research has been an increase in awareness amongst policymakers of the need for broader communication of health messages.

Pictorial Community Safety Action Guides

Six Pictorial Community Safety Action Guides developed for culturally and linguistically diverse communities as alternatives to supplement the written Emergency Action Guides have won the 2013 Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials Australasia Emergency Management Resilience Award for outstanding commitment and development of promoting community risk awareness.

The guides aim to help communities understand the risks associated with natural hazards that may occur in Australia and how best to minimise any adverse effects.

Upcoming MAV events...

12 June

Climate change and road management financial modelling workshop

4 - 5 July

Rural and regional planning conference

12 July

Local government legislative framework workshop


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