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23/09/2014 - AFAC Conference 2014 Report

2014 AFAC Conference
The 2014 AFAC Conference was held at Wellington, New Zealand. The conference theme this year was “AFTER DISASTER STRIKES, Leaning from Adversity”.
The AFAC Conference is partnered with Bushfire and Natural Hazard Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) and thus gives great emergency management diversity and interest to the conference.  There certainly was some learning from the Christchurch Earthquake in February 2011 with a sobering reminder that the city of Wellington (the location of the conference) was sitting on top of the very same fault line.

Some of the topics that captured my attention were:
•    Resilient Disaster Response and Recovery Lessons from a Social Science Research by Professor Kathleen Tierny, Director of Natural Hazards Centre, University of Colorado, USA. Kathleen discussed how resilience is now considered to be an essential element in disaster loss reduction. But what does resilience look like in the after math of a disaster and what factors may constitute barriers to response and recovery? Kathleen has just released a new book, entitled The Social Roots of Risk: Producing Disasters, Promoting Resilience, published in June 2014 by Stanford University Press. More on:

•    Zoe Keyon reported on a Young Emergency Management Volunteers ‘Change It Up’. This was about The Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) managed project on behalf of the Australian Emergency Management Volunteer Forum (AEMVF). The project and its outcomes were designed to publicise opportunities that exist within the national emergency management (EM) sector to engage both younger volunteers and those from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. One of the participants of this project is our very own SES Youth Awardee winner 2013, Melusha Robson, from the SES Communications Support Unit (CSU).

•    The experience of orthopeadic surgeon Dr Vaughn Poutawera was a reminder of the work and commitment of Australian and New Zealand Medical Assistance Teams (AusMAT and NZMAT) who volunteer to provide medical services in arduous conditions to assist when adversity strikes, due to Sudden Onset Disasters. He described the work done in his 14 day stint at the Australian Field Hospital in Tacioban, Philippines after the devastating Typhoon Haiyan. Vaugh also discussed why WHO Global Health established the Minimum Standards for Foreign Medical Teams (FMTs) in Sudden Onset Disasters The minimum standards provides clear guidelines and minimum service standards that FMTs should meet and recognises the sovereignty of the affected nation’s health agency in determining health care delivery in an emergency. Some of the graphic photos shown added great value to the presentation, highlighting the horrendous conditions these medical teams attempt to bring medical aid and some normality in disaster areas. More:

•    Measuring emergency management performance under adversity: The good bad and ugly was presented by Dr Christine Owen of University of Tasmania. Christine highlighted that senior emergency management personnel face more extreme events and complex challenges than their predecessors. However performance is more likely to be assessed by media and politics in an adhoc manner rather than measuring actual operational performance or needs. Dr Owen has worked with the Australasian Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre (Bushfire CRC) since 2006, as Program Leader for Education and Training (2006-2010) and also as research Project Leader for a four year funded research project “Enhancing Information Flow and Incident Management Team Effectiveness” along with other smaller projects and consultancies. In 2010 she took up the role of Project Leader to a multi-institutional multi-disciplinary research project funded again through the Bushfire CRC. This project examines strategic emergency management at state and regional levels and is titled “Organising for Effective Incident Management”. Personally, I felt that this lady should have led the disaster investigations that Keelty undertook and would have given a more wholesome outcome to the emergency services in Australia.

•    An USA perspective with The City of Chicago’s keys to preparation and recovery by Chicago Fire Chief Jose’ Santiago was interesting. In every major social emergency management event, they have to consider terrorism. Whilst I was bit gob smacked by this, recent events here in Australia are indicating that, regrettably, that our thinking will also have to change.

•    Cultural Collisions_The problem of sustaining a volunteer workforce in NSW SES by Michael Jones of the University of Wollongong. He introduced us to Norm and Norma Norm, average Australian volunteers based on some cultural-personality models. He discussed the complexity of volunteering in today’s society. An informed understanding of these dilemmas needs to be understood by emergency management staff if they wish to retain the services of Volunteers.

•    Our own DFES Commissioner, Wayne Gregson, was part of an Industry Leaders Panel that addressed industry issues and practices chaired by CEO for AFAC, Stuart Ellis. Other panel members were Paul Baxter the National Commander NZ Fire service, Stephen Griffin the newly appointed CEO for SES in Victoria, David Nugent GM for Environment and heritage, Parks Victoria and Chicago Fire Chief Jose’ Santiago.

A number of speakers discussed how we need to integrate social media and spontaneous volunteering in times of major disaster. Whilst it is not generally fit most emergency management models and practices, not to accept this and harness these will be detrimental to future emergency management.
Also attending the conference was 2013 Peter Keilor Awardee, Martin Hale from Bayswater SES Unit. A berth to the AFAC Conference is part of the recognition/reward for winning this prestigious SES award.

Phillip Petersen ESM
SE Region
SESVA Representative


MC bringing the conference to order

Martin Hale talking to the ISUZU trade team about the new ISUZU truck at Bayswater SES.

 DFES Commissioner, Wayne Gregson was part of an Industry Leaders Panel.

4 Maori entertainers at Gala Night held at Te Papa Museum

Victorian SES CEO, Stephen Griffin

22/09/2014 - SES Volunteers Search for Missing Person- Update

 Search Operation Esperence

Update - The missing man’s motorbike has just been found near a rifle range and SES Volunteers with Police are searching the area.

Police are seeking the whereabouts of a missing 39 year old man who was last seen riding his motorbike on bush tracks off Downes St in Esperance this morning.  16 SES Volunteers from Esperence and Norseman are involved in the operation. Sidney James WHILEY was last seen riding with friends in the early hours this morning and has not been seen since.  He is described as being 179cm tall of medium build with brown hair, green eyes and fair skin.  Police and SES will continue searching for the man.
Anyone who sights him is asked to contact Police on 131444.

22/09/2014 - Presidents Conference Report

The Fire and Emergency Services Conference
The annual conference is less than two weeks away and more than 130 SES Volunteers have registered from all over the state. In fact there is nearly 600 Emergency Response Volunteers registered.  A lot of hard work by all Volunteer Services and a number of DFES staff, in particular the Media and Public Affairs staff, put a lot of time and effort into organising this event.

This year there is a special “Orange” stream for SES Volunteers to attend, learn more and provide feedback to DFES and the SES Volunteers Association. They can also visit any other session they so desire.  DFES have also organised a smart phone app to assist during the Conference and this should be available for download a week before the conference. It has some very useful options.

The SES Program – in brief
Please note that all these presentations will take 15 minutes with an opportunity after the presentation for feedback and questions and answers.

  • SES Volunteer Pathways Training – Presenter Darren Klemm (AC Professional Development). Darren will cover the pathways for all SES Volunteer training.
  • Trainer Assessor – Presenter Stuart Wade (Superintendent Operational Delivery). Stuart will cover the progress, structure and program for all trainer/assessors.
  • Training Administration – Presenter Les Hayter (SESVA Chair of the Training Sub-Committee) will present on the requirements of administration of the Training function.
  • Emergency Services from a Youth Perspective – Presenters Melusha Robson, Sarah Thomas, Matt Hare and Karina Saunders. Melusha, Sarah and Matt have just returned from a World Youth Conference as part of the International Association for Volunteer Effort and will discuss what captures their interest and keeps them motivated in Emergency Services.
  • Unit Administration – Presenter Michelle Hall (Clubs Australia). Michelle the Incorporations act, Governance and responsibilities, by law, of Incorporated SES Units.
  • PPE Ordering and Issuing – Presenter Mark Feast (District officer Operational research). Mark will be talking about the ordering processes and issuing of equipment.
  • Vehicles and Equipment of the Future – Presenters Paul Carr and Graham Hardy. Paul and Graham will be talking about the future and where they DFES is going in regards to vehicles.
  • Vehicles and Equipment Open Forum – Presenter is David Price (SESVA Vehicles Sub-Committee Chair). David will conduct an open forum to receive feedback and questions on Vehicles and Equipment.

The SES Awards night will be in Ballroom 1 at the PCEC (At the time of writing there were a few tickets left so you would need to hurry if you haven’t got one)

On the Sunday the SESVA will conduct their AGM at 8.00am followed by some announcements.
At 9am the SESVA will conduct an open forum for SES Volunteers to provide feedback or ask questions on SES or DFES matters.
On the Sunday at 9.45am the Minister for Emergency Services will be delivering an official address.

The Minister’s address will be followed by other speakers and a live practical demonstration.  After lunch there are a number of other service non-specific sessions with the conference closing at 4.00pm. 

At lot of effort and organisation by DFES has gone into this Conference and we believe that a lot will be learnt by the SES Volunteers

See you there,
Gordon Hall
SESVA President
0427 002 702

19/09/2014 - SESVA and DFES meet on Peer Support Issues

SESVA Discusses Peer Support with DFES
In a long meeting on Thursday night, Peer Support Team representatives Graham Fixter and Maree Brennen, and SESVA representatives, Phillip Petersen and Gordon Hall met with a number of DFES staff to discuss the Peer Support issues over a number of years, the current status and future of the SES Peer Support Team.  Many aspects were covered and a number of positive outcomes have been agreed to.
The main outcomes are:

  • The Peer Support Team is active,
  • DFES staff Steve Summerton and Allen Gale will work with DFES to ensure an effective activation process for the Peer Support Team be put into place by Operations Command as quickly as possible,
  • The current Peer Support Team will carry on in the interim until the new system is agreed to; and
  • A transition phase from the old system will take place as part of the implementation phase of the new system.

The SESVA and the Peer Support Team acknowledge that there have been obstacles, in particular government policy affecting recruitment of staff to assist DFES on this matter.  The SESVA commends the DFES team led by Anneliese Smith, including Charlotte Hunter, Ron Wingate, Steve Summerton and Allen Gale, in listening and committing to making changes to ensure the Peer Support Team can operate immediately and effectively in their support of SES Volunteers throughout Western Australia.

Gordon Hall

19/09/2014 - DFES Conference Update


Conference News Update #3 
 Volunteer registrations have now closed  - Thank you for registering to attend the 2014 WA Fire and Emergency Services Conference.   It is great to see that almost 600 volunteers representing all services and WA regions will be attending this year’s event.  Registrations have now closed for the Conference, however places are still available for those wishing to attend an awards ceremony. Order your tickets before Monday 22 September 2014 if you wish to attend.
Travel Itineraries
Final travel itineraries will be emailed to regional delegates by Tuesday 23 September 2014. If you have not received your final travel itinerary by then please contact Carlson Wagonlit Travel on 02 8666 1706 or
Parking Information
There is a range of parking options available at the hotel where you will be staying as well as at the Conference venue - Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre. Details are available on the Conference website under the Travel and Accommodation menu.
Live Practical Demonstrations
This year there will be a range of live demonstrations featured during the Conference.  From Road Crash Rescue and USAR Canines in Action to an RAC Rescue Helicopter Winch Exercise, a Responding to Hazardous Materials demonstration and the new Crew Protection Deluge System, there is sure to be something for everyone.

For times and locations view the Conference program.

Smartphone Application
This year we are pleased to introduce a free smartphone app, which puts the Conference in the palm of your hand.

You can use the app to:

  • Gain easy access to the conference program and floor plan
  • See profiles of all conference speakers, as well as information on exhibitions and demonstrations
  • Receive important conference notifications during the event
  • Participate in online conversations with fellow delegates via the event feed.
  • Stay tuned for more information on how to download the app to your smartphone.

We look forward to seeing you at the 2014 WA Fire and Emergency Services Conference.
For further information please visit the Conference website.

15/09/2014 - Kalbarri SES September 2014 Report

Kalbarri SES Report

Mac Holt reports that a night time cliff rescue systems refresher/training was a challenge as was setting a task to load a full 40 gallon drum onto the flood boat. DFES media came to video us for being a finalist for the SES awards night and we had a weekend LEMC joint emergency services exercise.

View the full report =====>Kalbarri-SES-Report-2014-09.pdf

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