Vol 15, Issue 5. 2019

Early Bushfire Season, Backburning & Fuel Reduction, Let's Talk Mental Health with Dr Erin Smith, Code 9 Foundation, Making Hospitals Safer, Emergency Law with Professor Michael Eburn, Celebrating SES Week, Tough Laws & Terrorism, Homeless Veterans in Australia.

Early Bushfire Season, Backburning & Fuel Reduction, Let's Talk Mental Health with Dr Erin Smith, Code 9 Foundation, Making Hospitals Safer, Emergency Law with Professor Michael Eburn, Celebrating SES Week, Tough Laws & Terrorism, Homeless Veterans in Australia.


Create successful ePaper yourself

Turn your PDF publications into a flip-book with our unique Google optimized e-Paper software.

Australian Emergency<br />

Services Magazine<br />

<strong>Vol</strong> <strong>15</strong> <strong>2019</strong><br />

EarlyBushfireSeason<br />


We’ve got your back.<br />

Emergency Services Health is a not-for-profit<br />

health fund that exists to enhance the physical<br />

and mental health and wellbeing of Australia’s<br />

emergency services community.<br />

We do this by providing health insurance products,<br />

support, information and services designed<br />

exclusively for the needs of our members.

We treat our members like colleagues.<br />

That’s because they are.<br />

Fire Response &<br />

Recovery Sector<br />

State Emergency<br />

Response &<br />

Recovery Sector<br />

We’re rallying for<br />

everybody working and<br />

volunteering to protect<br />

our communities.<br />

Ambulance & Medical<br />

Response & Recovery<br />

Sector<br />

Water Response &<br />

Recovery Sector<br />

Why Choose Us?<br />

Our simple products are<br />

tailored to the lifelong needs<br />

of our members.<br />

We provide top quality cover, and<br />

will stand beside our members<br />

when they need us most.<br />

Our approach is personal;<br />

we care about our members.<br />

We’re run for the benefit<br />

of members. We’re a true<br />

not-for-profit. We’re not<br />

driven by corporate investors<br />

or overseas owners demanding<br />

shareholder dividends.<br />

Who Can Join?<br />

Emergency Services Health is open to people across Australia who were<br />

or are employed (including volunteering) in emergency services, and their<br />

families. Our focus on the emergency services community means we make<br />

sure we provide the most relevant products and best quality service for the<br />

lifelong health and wellbeing of our members.<br />

For more information:<br />

PHONE<br />

1300 703 703<br />

EMAIL<br />

enquiries@eshealth.com.au<br />

VISIT<br />

eshealth.com.au<br />

Emergency Services Health Pty Ltd ABN 98 131 093 877

Paramedics Australasia International Conference<br />

PAIC19<br />


28–30 NOVEMBER <strong>2019</strong><br />

Wrest Point • Hobart • Tasmania<br />

https://www.paramedics.org/events/<br />

Photo credit: Roger Wong


3<br />

Editor’s Note<br />

9<br />

Latest Events<br />

5<br />

6<br />

7<br />

9<br />

13<br />

<strong>15</strong><br />

17<br />

19<br />

21<br />

26<br />

29<br />

33<br />

37<br />

40<br />

• Top 50 Public Sector Women<br />

• AFAC 19 Conference Review<br />

Emergency Law with Professor Michael Eburn<br />

Early Bushfire Season Devastation<br />

Backburning & Fuel Reduction<br />

Let’s Talk Mental Health - Dr Erin Smith<br />

Animal Welfare Chatbot Launched<br />

Celebrating SES Week<br />

Code 9 Foundation<br />

Making our hospitals safer<br />

Predicting floods a global effort<br />

Tough Laws & Terrorism<br />

Homeless Veterans in Australia<br />

In the Spotlight - Port Hedland VMR<br />

21<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au<br />

There are now so many ways to stay connected<br />

to the Australian Emergency Services Magazine.<br />

Follow us on our social channels and on our<br />

website. Or, you can access everything from<br />

our dedicated App.<br />



TODAY<br />




Welcome to the latest edition of the Australian<br />

Emergency Services Magazine. What a devastating<br />

month we have had with the early start to bushfire<br />

season in Australia. These fires ripped through<br />

drought stricken areas, bringing destruction<br />

to a landscape already dry and people already<br />

struggling.<br />

Our hearts go out to the families and friends of<br />

Robert Lindsey and Gwenda Hyde who lost their<br />

lives in the latest round of bushfires that swept<br />

through Coongbar in New South Wales. Homes can<br />

be rebuilt, but the loss of life is an absolute tragedy.<br />

If you want to help those affected by the bushfires,<br />

the Red Cross has been on the ground providing<br />

much needed assistance to those who volunteered<br />

to help and those affected. GIVIT is a charity that<br />

provides funds, items and services to those in<br />

need. They are currently partnered with the QLD<br />

government to help manage donations. Check<br />

them out at www.givit.org.au<br />

As the summer season gets into full swing, make<br />

sure you have an emergency plan in place for your<br />

family. Being prepared can make all the difference<br />

when these events occur.<br />

Stay safe<br />

Emma Parker<br />

Editor<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au<br />


The Australian Emergency Services Magazine<br />

is a community educational resource<br />

publication and does not promote itself<br />

as a charity or fund raising institution, nor<br />

solicit on behalf of charities and is no way<br />

financially supported by or associated with<br />

any government or similar institution.<br />

Distributions of the publication is Bi-<br />

Monthly and are circulated via a database<br />

of interested parties, including business,<br />

subscribers, advertisers, volunteer<br />

emergency organistations, and council<br />

libraries. A print and digital magazine is<br />

distributed to a targeted database in each<br />

State & Territory.<br />

Every effort is made to ensure that material<br />

presented in the Australian Emergency<br />

Services Magazine was correct at the time of<br />

printing and is published in good faith, no<br />

responsibility or liability will be accepted by<br />

Boothbook Media. The views and opinions<br />

expressed are not necessarily those of<br />

Boothbook Media and its employees. The<br />

content of any advertising or promotional<br />

material contained within the Australian<br />

Emergency Services Magazine is not<br />

necessarily an endorsement by Boothbook<br />

Media.<br />

Published by Boothbook Media<br />

ABN:72 605 987 031<br />





Editorial Content<br />

press@ausemergencyservices.com.au<br />

Advertising Enquiries<br />

advertise@ausemergencyservices.com.au<br />

Distribution Enquiries<br />

contact@boothbookmedia.com.au<br />

Postal Address<br />

Boothbook Media<br />

Suite 112, Locked Bag 1<br />

Robina TC, QLD 4230<br />

1300 851 710<br />

Please submit all articles to the Editor for consideration at:<br />

press@ausemergencyservices.com.au<br />

Articles should be no more than 1000 words and be relevant to the content<br />

within the Australian Emergency Services Magazine.

Is your organisation ready to cope with a<br />

mission critical emergency incident?<br />

Incidents such as bushfires, natural disasters or emergency mission tactical scenarios require<br />

public safety agencies to have the right communications technologies in place before these<br />

emergencies hit.<br />

The Simoco SRB250 is a rapid deployment repeater that is designed to provide radio coverage to<br />

a critical incident, emergency situation or extends existing Public Safety systems, either analogue<br />

or APCO Digital P2<strong>5.</strong> It provides deployable “on demand” coverage for vehicle and portable radio<br />

users in VHF or UHF.<br />

Quick and rapid<br />

deployment<br />

Ruggedised pelican<br />

device<br />

Enhanced battery<br />

operations<br />

Link radio<br />

capability into GRN<br />

Integration with<br />

other digital<br />

operators/systems<br />

Deployable by<br />

non-technical staff<br />

Contact us<br />

inquiry.aus@simocowirelesssolutions.com<br />

+61 1300 363 607<br />



ESTA’s Executive Director<br />

Operations Support, Dr Amee<br />

Morgans was recognised for<br />

her commitment and inspiring<br />

leadership in the public sector by<br />

being named one of Victoria’s Top<br />

50 Public Sector Women.<br />

Amee received the honour at a<br />

ceremony held by the Institute of<br />

Public Administration Australia.<br />

Throughout her career, Amee has<br />

mentored and helped with the<br />

professional development of many<br />

public sector employees, whether<br />

in her current role or through<br />

the professional development<br />

of several Doctoral and Masters<br />

students in a voluntary capacity<br />

through an adjunct position at<br />

Monash University.<br />

Her career has focused on<br />

equitable health and emergency<br />

service access through optimal<br />

government resource use. This<br />

has been realised through roles<br />

contributing to public health,<br />

primary health, emergency services,<br />

aged care and community settings.<br />

Amee began her public sector<br />

career in 2001, working as a<br />

front-line triple zero call-taker and<br />

dispatcher, prompting doctoral<br />

studies into user experience<br />

and optimal resource allocation<br />

in emergency services. She also<br />

worked at Ambulance Victoria,<br />

focusing on service quality,<br />

innovative research, and workforce<br />

capability development.<br />




WOMEN<br />

After Ambulance Victoria, Amee<br />

focused on innovation and<br />

research within the not-for-profit<br />

aged care and community health<br />

services, serving the community’s<br />

most vulnerable, before returning<br />

to the state’s emergency services<br />

sector.<br />

She has authored and coauthored<br />

more than 70 research<br />

publications that have focused on<br />

a wide array of topics, including<br />

the state of Victoria’s prehospital<br />

emergency health care, emergency<br />

management, emergency service<br />

demand and universal practices<br />

and provisions within the aged care<br />

sector.<br />

Amee’s efforts at ESTA have<br />

focused on driving improvements<br />

to deliver emergency services<br />

that meet community and sector<br />

expectations. This includes securing<br />

key grant funding to support<br />

artificial intelligence in call-taking to<br />

provide a safety net for emergency<br />

communications processes, and<br />

leverage off the next generation 5G<br />

offerings.<br />

Her ability to translate vision into<br />

strategy and operational change<br />

has been critical to supporting a<br />

wave of transformation across the<br />

sector. Congratulations Amee on<br />

this well deserved recognition.


Over 4,000 attendees made the<br />

AFAC19 powered by INTERSCHUTZ<br />

Conference and Exhibition the<br />

largest in the event’s history.<br />

Australasia’s premier event for the<br />

fire and emergency management<br />

sector returned to Melbourne for<br />

the first time in six years, where ‘a<br />

shift to the new norm: riding the<br />

wave of change’ was the central<br />

theme.<br />

Delegates had the opportunity<br />

to explore the concept of change<br />

with presentations covering a wide<br />

variety of topics including climate<br />

change; culture and diversity; land<br />

management; prescribed burning;<br />

flood mitigation; infrastructure and<br />

quantifying risk.<br />

The Bushfire and Natural Hazards<br />

CRC opened the conference with<br />

the annual Research Forum, which<br />

investigated the latest scientific<br />

research for the sector. The forum<br />

connected researchers with<br />

practitioners to embed knowledge<br />

into practice.<br />

AFAC19 powered by INTERSCHUTZ<br />

offered the largest trade exhibition<br />

in the history of the event. At<br />

12,000sqm, attendees were able to<br />

witness the latest technology and<br />

operations equipment up close with a<br />

live demonstrations area, expo stage<br />

presentations and 196 exhibitors,<br />

including 46 international exhibitors<br />

from 16 countries.<br />

After a day filled with fruitful<br />

AFAC<strong>2019</strong> CONFERENCE REVIEW<br />



discussions and a busy exhibition,<br />

delegates convened for the annual<br />

AFAC powered by INTERSCHUTZ<br />

gala dinner, where they traded their<br />

conference attire for lounge suits<br />

and colourful gowns in tune with the<br />

evening’s theme of ‘endless summer’.<br />

The conference was co-located with<br />

the Institution of Fire Engineers<br />

Conference and the Australian<br />

Disaster Resilience Conference, which<br />

ran concurrently during the event.<br />

The conference also offered<br />

opportunities for professional<br />

development, with a key highlight<br />

being the cultural burning field trip<br />

held on 30 September.<br />

Preparations are already underway<br />

for AFAC20 powered by INTERSHUTZ,<br />

which will take place at the Adelaide<br />

Convention Centre and will run from<br />

25 – 28 August 2020.

AUSTRALIAN EMERGENCY LAW with Professor Michael Eburn<br />













September <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2019</strong><br />

PHD<br />

Barrister<br />

Leading expert in Law<br />

relating to Emergency<br />

Management &<br />

Emergency Services<br />

Follow Michael Eburn<br />

Facebook- facebook.com/EburnM/<br />

Twitter - @EburnM<br />

For his latest articles on Emergency<br />

Law go to:<br />

www.emergencylaw.wordpress.com<br />

A correspondent has sent me a link to<br />

a video on Facebook and said ‘This is<br />

an interesting one… Where do you think<br />

the young tradie stands in a situation<br />

like this?’<br />

The gist of the matter is that the man<br />

the subject of the story was involved<br />

in a collision when he turned right<br />

in front of responding Queensland<br />

ambulance and was involved in a<br />

collision. The ambulance had its<br />

warning lights on but there may be<br />

some dispute about whether the<br />

siren was on.<br />

The young man was driving a vehicle<br />

that did not have comprehensive<br />

insurance and is concerned that the<br />

insurer for the ambulance ‘is not<br />

helping’ him. A passenger in the<br />

vehicle has received advice that the<br />

CTP (compulsory third party) insurer<br />

has accepted liability with respect to<br />

his personal injuries.<br />

This is in fact standard for any car<br />

accident. If you drive a motor vehicle<br />

without comprehensive insurance,<br />

you are accepting the risk that<br />

your car may be damaged, and you<br />

have to wear that cost. You cannot<br />

guarantee that every accident will<br />

be due to someone else’s fault,<br />

that you will be able to identify that<br />

person, that they will be able to pay<br />

the damages and that they will do so<br />

when you first ask.<br />

Legal Aid Queensland set out what to<br />

do if you are in a motor accident and<br />

want to claim the costs of damage<br />

from another driver – see ‘If you want<br />

to make a claim against the other<br />

driver’. That’s the process whether<br />

the other car is a private car or an<br />

ambulance.<br />

The role of the ambulance insurer<br />

is to protect their own interest and<br />

that of their insured. They do not<br />

represent the other party so the<br />

‘other party’ cannot expect them to<br />

help. What the insurance company<br />

has to do is decide if their driver is<br />

legally at fault. That is complicated in<br />

a situation like this by the obligation<br />

on other road users to give way to<br />

emergency ambulances (Transport<br />

Operations (Road Use Management–<br />

Road Rules) Regulation 2009 (Qld)<br />

rr 78 and 79) and the obligation<br />

on the driver of the ambulance<br />

to drive with reasonable care.<br />

Courts can apportion liability so<br />

there can be much argument, and

hence negotiation, on how much<br />

responsibility lies with each driver.<br />

If that cannot be negotiated, then a<br />

court can decide.<br />

So where does ‘the young tradie<br />

stand in a situation like this…’?<br />

Just where he would stand in any<br />

accident. His vehicle was not<br />

comprehensively insured so he<br />

has to carry the cost unless he can<br />

demonstrate that the other driver<br />

was negligent. Demonstrating<br />

negligence does not mean convincing<br />

channel 9 (who are no doubt only<br />

interested because there was<br />

video and it was an ambulance) but<br />

convincing the other side’s insurer,<br />

or a court, that the other driver was<br />

at fault.<br />

But they won’t be convinced just<br />

because the ‘young tradie’ says so,<br />

they will have to speak to their driver<br />

and also consider what defences are<br />

available to them at law. We also<br />

have no idea what steps have been<br />

taken to get quotes and otherwise<br />

make a claim. There’s nothing unique<br />

about the video and the story, it<br />

just another car accident. I cannot<br />

imagine channel 9 running a story –<br />

person has car accident and it takes<br />

time to settle claim for property<br />

damage – but that’s all this story is<br />

saying.<br />

As for the CTP insurer accepting<br />

liability, that is irrelevant. It’s another<br />

insurer (even if owned by the same<br />

parent company) making decisions<br />

under other law, in this case the<br />

Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994<br />

(Qld). The decision by the CTP<br />

insurer in one case has no bearing on<br />

the decision of the comprehensive<br />

insurer in the claim for property<br />

damage.<br />

This article originally appeared on the<br />

blog Australian Emergency Law (https://<br />

emergencylaw.wordpress.com/) and is<br />

reproduced with the permission of the<br />

author.<br />

As a blog post it represents the author’s<br />

opinion based on the law at the time it was<br />

written. The blog, or this article, is not<br />

legal advice and cannot be relied upon to<br />

determine any person’s legal position. How<br />

the law applies to any specific situation or<br />

event depends on all the circumstances.<br />

If you need to determine legal rights and<br />

obligations with respect to any event<br />

that has happened, or some action that<br />

is proposed, you must consult a lawyer<br />

for advice based on the particular<br />

circumstances. Trade unions, professional<br />

indemnity insurers and community legal<br />

centres can all be a source for initial legal<br />


“Fire weather has<br />

never been as severe,<br />

this early in Spring,”<br />

Inspector Andrew Sturgess




A drought ravaged landscape, a dry winter and an unseasonably<br />

rapid rise in temperature was the perfect recipe for a devastating<br />

and early start to bushfire season in Australia.<br />

During the first two weeks of<br />

September there were over 130 fires<br />

burning throughout northern NSW<br />

and Queensland. Destroying homes and<br />

scorching the landscape, these fires took<br />

many residents by surprise with many<br />

unprepared for the speed and ferocity that<br />

a bushfire can tear through an area. The<br />

lives of many residents in the communities<br />

of northern NSW and many parts of<br />

Queensland have since been irrevocably<br />

changed.<br />

In early September authorities called<br />

total fire bans across Qld with warm,<br />

dry and windy conditions expected to<br />

impact South East Queensland. The<br />

temperatures soared and by September<br />

the 4th, fire crews were battling a blaze in<br />

the Scenic Rim on the Gold Coast using<br />

water bombing and crew on the ground.<br />

The situation disintegrated rapidly with <strong>15</strong><br />

significant fires burning across Queensland<br />

over the next 24 hours. Within 72 hours<br />

there were 70 fires burning in Queensland.<br />

17 homes were destroyed, over 60<br />

damaged and the historical Binna Burra<br />

Lodge burned to the ground.<br />

In New South Wales, similar weather and<br />

environmental conditions had resulted in<br />

what was described as an inferno, raging<br />

through the border towns of Stanthorpe<br />

and Applethorpe. The tinder dry towns of<br />

Tenterfield and Drake also saw fire crews<br />

battling exhaustion as large blazes burned<br />

out of control. 65,000 hectares of land were<br />

burned before they were contained.<br />

From September the 4th through to<br />

September the <strong>15</strong>th, Northern NSW and<br />

Queensland fire crews and emergency<br />

management personnel witnessed the<br />

worst start to bushfire season ever<br />

recorded. With over 130 bushfires burning<br />

throughout both states, exhausted fire

fighters and distressed residents, the<br />

outlook for the rest of the season was<br />

certainly grim and it still is.<br />

Andrew Sturgess, manager of QFES<br />

predictive services unit, said the fire<br />

conditions were unprecedented in<br />

Queensland. “Fire weather has never<br />

been as severe, this early in Spring,”<br />

said Inspector Sturgess.<br />

The unprecedented early start to the<br />

season had emergency management<br />

discussing the effect of climate<br />

change on our emergency services.<br />

Emergency Services Minister Craig<br />

Crawford has predicted climate<br />

change could result in a difficult end<br />

to <strong>2019</strong> and has appointed a team<br />

to make sure volunteers called on in<br />

times of disasters can cope with what<br />

lies ahead. He said Queensland Fire<br />

and Emergency Services workers are<br />

acutely aware of the dangers climate<br />

change is throwing at them.<br />

Mr Crawford spoke to ABC radio<br />

about this issue, concerned that fire<br />

season and a heightened cyclone<br />

season would cross over during the<br />

upcoming Summer months. The<br />

worry about volunteer fatigue with a<br />

difficult next few months ahead was<br />

at the forefront of his mind.<br />

“What happens if we have a fire<br />

season like we had for the last week<br />

for the next three to four months?”<br />

he said. “How do we manage that?<br />

How do we keep their employers<br />

happy, their families happy, and still<br />

be able to tap into them?”<br />

Over 100 interstate firefighters from<br />

Victoria, South Australia, Western<br />

Australia and New Zealand were<br />

deployed to help fight the fires in<br />

Queensland, giving the Queensland<br />

crews a much-needed respite.

Incident management and specialist<br />

personnel were also sent to support<br />

their interstate colleagues and<br />

communities.<br />

The worry about fatigue amongst the<br />

fire crews and volunteers isn’t the<br />

only concern with such a long season<br />

ahead. The communities that have<br />

been impacted by the recent fires<br />

have already been struggling with<br />

the drought. This coupled with the<br />

devastation of the fires has brought<br />

some families and businesses to the<br />

edge of their ability to cope.<br />

This is the type of event that can have<br />

catastrophic psychological effects,<br />

warned psychologist Susie Burke.<br />

“When the flames go away is when<br />

the real work begins. That will be an<br />

enduring challenge,” she said. “We<br />

can’t sustain this level of distress<br />

and destruction. It’s psychologically<br />

damaging, it’s financially damaging.”<br />

As we go to print another round<br />

of bushfires has torn through New<br />

South Wales and Queensland.<br />

Sadly, two people have lost their<br />

lives during this most recent<br />

fire emergency. Both were wellrespected<br />

members of the wider<br />

Ewingar community.<br />

RFS Commissioner Shane<br />

Fitzsimmons said the deaths were a<br />

“tragic, horrible” outcome.<br />

“[It’s] a truly sobering reminder of<br />

the ferocity of these dangerous and<br />

destructive fires that we have seen<br />

burning across northern NSW for<br />

months now,” he said.<br />

So far 45 homes have been<br />

confirmed destroyed, 5 community<br />

facilities and 87 outbuildings in NSW<br />

alone. These statistics from the NSW<br />

Rural Fire Service were only initial<br />

assessments, with a lot more area<br />

to cover and assess over the coming<br />

days.<br />

As we continue through the next few<br />

months the lessons from this early<br />

fire season are to be vigilant and be<br />

prepared. It is so important to be fire<br />

ready and to have an emergency plan<br />

in place for your family and property.<br />

Know when to leave, where you will<br />

go and the safest way to get there.<br />

Should you be experiencing<br />

emotional stress or personal<br />

financial hardship from these events,<br />

and personal hardship financial<br />

assistance has not been activated for<br />

your community, you are encouraged<br />

to contact your local emergency relief<br />

provider or counselling service.<br />

Australian Emergency Services Magazine<br />

Traumatic Stress Clinic<br />

Sydney Australia<br />

<br />

<br />

()<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

02 8627 3314<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />



The recent surge of bushfire disasters has introduced fire-fighting tactics to everyday language.<br />

Two important approaches that use fire<br />

to fight fire are “back burning” and “fuelreduction<br />

burning”. Unfortunately these<br />

two fundamentally different approaches<br />

are often confused.<br />

Fuel reduction<br />

Fuel reduction (also known variously<br />

as prescribed, planned, controlled<br />

or hazard-reduction burning) is the<br />

targeted burning of bushland to control<br />

fire behaviour.<br />

The idea is to reduce the intensity of<br />

subsequent fires at the same place by<br />

removing fine surface fuels such as leaf<br />

litter. Reducing these hazards increases<br />

the window of opportunity for fire<br />

fighters to control bushfires.<br />

The technique can only be applied to<br />

open flammable vegetation. In dense<br />

eucalypt forests (such as wet sclerophyll<br />

forests) fuel-reduction burning is<br />

impractical because of the risk of<br />

uncontrollable fires sustained by heavy<br />

fuel loads that only become flammable<br />

in dry conditions. This limits the utility<br />

of this approach in heavily forested, wet<br />

regions.<br />

Even in more open, dry sclerophyll<br />

forests, extreme fire weather makes<br />

reduction techniques much less<br />

effective than in milder conditions. For<br />

example, with extreme heat and winds,<br />

eucalypt crowns can catch on fire<br />

regardless of the amount of leaf litter<br />

and surface fuel.<br />

Fuel reduction has to be applied<br />

frequently. Fuel loads build up<br />

quickly, often returning to a carrying<br />

capacity (when litter fall is balanced by<br />

decomposition) between 10 and 20<br />

years.<br />

This underpins fuel-reduction targets.<br />

In Victoria, for instance, the 5% fuelreduction<br />

target means a given area<br />

of bush will be burnt every 20 years.<br />

But ecologists are concerned that such<br />

high frequencies can have damaging<br />

effects on plant and animal species<br />

OPEN 7 DAYS<br />

03 5762 7757<br />

54 Carrier Street, Benalla Victoria 3672 kebabboyz.benalla@hotmail.com

that require longer fire-free intervals to<br />

complete their life cycles.<br />

There is also much debate about the<br />

effectiveness of fuel-reduction burning,<br />

given that a huge area of landscape<br />

needs to be treated in order to increase<br />

the chance of significantly influencing<br />

wildfire behaviour.<br />

There is growing evidence that the best<br />

benefits of fuel-reduction burning are<br />

close to the bushland suburbs (also<br />

known as the wildland-urban interface).<br />

It must be acknowledged that such<br />

targeted burning is expensive to<br />

carry out safely given the need<br />

for engagement with numerous<br />

stakeholders (private land owners,<br />

councils, various branches of<br />

government). It is also dangerous<br />

work, which carries a risk of destroying<br />

houses and infrastructure if the fires<br />

escape control.<br />

Finally, a serious side effect is smoke<br />

pollution, which can briefly fumigate<br />

nearby communities. Because of these<br />

constraints, attention is increasingly<br />

being focused on managing fuel<br />

without burning. This can involve using<br />

herbivores and thinning vegetation,<br />

including burning the debris in specially<br />

designed portable furnaces that have<br />

low smoke emissions.<br />

Back burning<br />

The difference between fuel-reduction<br />

burning and back burning is effectively<br />

the same as the difference between<br />

elective and emergency surgery.<br />

Back burning is a last-resort measure to<br />

stop wildfire from burning out specific<br />

areas. It works by setting fires from<br />

containment lines, such as established<br />

fire breaks or hastily contrasted ones<br />

made with a bulldozer or cut by hand.<br />

Back burns are often set at night or<br />

during weather conditions when the<br />

fire danger is low. A spectacular use<br />

of back burning, which stemmed<br />

the threat of two large uncontrolled<br />

bushfires, occurred at the height of<br />

the Blue Mountains bushfire disaster<br />

in Spring 2013. But back burning is<br />

dangerous and carries substantial risks<br />

of exacerbating a bushfire event.<br />

The ecological impacts of back burning<br />

are rarely discussed but may be quite<br />

substantial. Wildlife, which can normally<br />

flee a fire front, can become trapped<br />

between the bushfire and the back<br />

burn. Exacerbating impacts on wildlife<br />

is the technique known as “blacking<br />

out”, involving setting fire to unburnt<br />

areas that escaped combustion by the<br />

back burn. Such unburnt patches can<br />

be critical refuges for wildlife and a sort<br />

of seed for recovery of adjacent burnt<br />

areas.<br />

Another harmful effect of back burning<br />

is the unintentional destruction of<br />

fire-sensitive biological communities.<br />

These include fire-sensitive plants,<br />

habitat for endangered wildlife and<br />

areas recovering from a previous highseverity<br />

fire.<br />

Regrettably, in some situations<br />

ecologically vulnerable areas have<br />

been sacrificed to protect lives and<br />

property. This can be avoided by having<br />

ecologists help design the footprint<br />

of a back burn, but extreme bushfire<br />

situations may not allow sufficient time<br />

for fine-tuning.<br />

One unappreciated aspect of back<br />

burning is that it makes it impossible to<br />

study how a bushfire would naturally<br />

spread across the landscape, given<br />

the coupling of human-set fires with<br />

the wildfire. For this reason, the fires<br />

set by lightning and left to burn in the<br />

south-west Tasmania wilderness are of<br />

considerable interest.<br />

Flammable landscape<br />

We can’t totally suppress fire in a<br />

flammable landscape — nor should we.<br />

Long unburnt areas can accumulate<br />

very heavy fuel loads, resulting in<br />

ecologically destructive fires.<br />

But it is also important to acknowledge<br />

that wildfires achieve fuel reduction<br />

too. This occurs particularly on the<br />

flanks or sides of a fire, which burn<br />

at a lower intensity than the front of<br />

the fire, and during cooler periods<br />

between fire “runs” that are driven by<br />

extreme fire conditions. For this reason<br />

bushfires are sometimes left to burn<br />

if they present no threat to any valued<br />

economic or ecological assets.<br />

We are yet to achieve ecologically<br />

sustainable fire management of<br />

flammable landscapes. Managing<br />

bushfires will become more<br />

complicated given the increased<br />

extreme fire weather driven by climate<br />

change and the need to reduce smoke<br />

pollution to minimise greenhouse gas<br />

emissions and protect human health.<br />

Fuel-reduction burning will remain<br />

a key tool that must be cleverly<br />

incorporated in landscape fire planning.<br />

This will need to involve targeted fuel<br />

treatments around areas vulnerable to<br />

bushfires, as well as the development<br />

of buffer zones that can be used to<br />

contain wildfires using techniques like<br />

back burning and direct attack using<br />

water and fire retardants.<br />

David Bowman<br />

Professor, Environmental Change<br />

Biology, University of Tasmania<br />

Article first published on The<br />

Conversation<br />



Ken Caldwell<br />

0400 285 400<br />

ken@kcconcreteconstruction.com<br />

QBCC <strong>15</strong>0026035<br />

All Civil Construction<br />

All Commercial Construction<br />

Concreting<br />

Form Work<br />

Labour Hire

Lets Talk Mental<br />

Health<br />

with Dr Erin Smith<br />



On the 27th March 2018, the<br />

Australian Senate referred<br />

an inquiry into the role of<br />

Commonwealth, state and territory<br />

Governments in addressing the high<br />

rates of mental health conditions<br />

experienced by the “people behind<br />

000” – Australia’s hundreds of<br />

thousands of emergency service<br />

workers and volunteers.<br />

This inquiry came about as a result<br />

of an individual first responder, Ms<br />

Simone Haigh, reaching out and<br />

relating her experiences after the<br />

death of a close friend and witnessing<br />

the psychological distress of many<br />

other colleagues and friends within<br />

the paramedic profession.<br />

The inquiry stimulated conversation<br />

nationwide regarding the mental<br />

health of paramedics, police, and fire<br />

professionals as well as volunteer and<br />

communications staff working in the<br />

emergency services sector.<br />

What other job requires you to be in<br />

a constant state of hyper vigilance<br />

and alertness yet at the same time be<br />

a counsellor, a social worker, a lawyer,<br />

or a prison warden. What other<br />

profession authorizes you to take a<br />

person’s liberty, or potentially use<br />

deadly force, but then mandates<br />

that you attempt to save the<br />

person’s life that has just tried<br />

to kill you? What job causes<br />

you to wonder whether you will<br />

come home to your loved ones<br />

after you bid them farewell each<br />

and every day as you head off to<br />

work? (1)<br />

The mental health challenges<br />

faced by our emergency services<br />

personnel are well documented.<br />

They primarily relate to affective,<br />

anxiety and stress-related<br />

disorders including posttraumatic<br />

stress disorder (PTSD). The causes<br />

of these conditions are less well<br />

documented, but can be explained<br />

by a range of factors including the<br />

nature of the emergency services<br />

role and environment, exposure<br />

to cumulative stress, and the way<br />

personnel access (or don’t access)<br />

available support.<br />

Anecdotally we know that emergency<br />

services personnel have traditionally<br />

been wary of speaking to formal<br />

support services provided through<br />

their employers for fear of potential<br />

repercussions – being seen as unable<br />

to undertake their role or losing their<br />


We are starting to see a positive shift<br />

in this regard, with many emergency<br />

services around Australia making<br />

comprehensive efforts to change the<br />

existing culture around mental health<br />

and normalising the way we discuss<br />

mental health conditions.<br />

But despite these encouraging<br />

improvements, stigma is still a<br />

pervasive issue when it comes<br />

to talking about what’s going on<br />

above the neck, as highlighted by<br />

the findings of Beyond Blue’s major<br />

research project ‘Answering the call’.<br />

The research – a national survey<br />

exploring mental health conditions in<br />

emergency service personnel – found<br />

that first responders self-stigmatise,<br />

with 33% feeling shame about their<br />

condition and 32% expressing shame<br />

about the burden their mental<br />

health placed on those around<br />

them. But perhaps one of the more<br />

alarmingly results was how 61% of<br />

first responders avoid telling others<br />

that they suffer from a mental health<br />

condition. (2)<br />

But it seems this stigma is largely<br />

directly inward. When asked whether<br />

they would support colleagues<br />

suffering from a mental health<br />

condition, a significant majority<br />

responded positively. Only 1% of first<br />

responders thought that individuals<br />

were to blame for their own mental<br />

health conditions, and only 2%<br />

believed that mental health problems<br />

are a burden on others. (2)<br />

While one in eight Australians<br />

experience high or very high<br />

psychological distress, this research<br />

found that the rate for emergency<br />

service personnel is one in three<br />

– much higher. The research<br />

also reported that one in four<br />

ex-first responders experienced<br />

post-traumatic stress disorder<br />

(PTSD). So the problem is lingering<br />

(and potentially even starting) in<br />

retirement.<br />

Emergency service personnel are<br />

more than twice as likely to report<br />

having suicidal thoughts and are<br />

three times more likely to have<br />

a suicide plan. Rates of suicide<br />

attempts were comparable with<br />

the general population. However, a<br />

National Coronial Information System<br />

(NCIS) report published in June 20<strong>15</strong><br />

indicated that the suicide rate among<br />

paramedics in Victoria was four times<br />

higher than the Victorian average<br />

and three times higher than other<br />

emergency services personnel such<br />

as police and fire services. (3)<br />

So what helps?<br />

Personnel who reported having<br />

better social support and higher<br />

levels of resilience had lower levels<br />

of suicidal thoughts and behaviours,<br />

even if they had experienced<br />

traumatic events that deeply affected<br />

them. This reinforces the need for<br />

emergency services to prioritise staff<br />

mental health and wellbeing and for<br />

personnel to actively engage in selfcare<br />

activities that build resilience.<br />

The findings of ‘Answering the<br />

call’ confirm long-held views that<br />

emergency services personnel<br />

have a higher risk of developing<br />

mental health conditions linked to<br />

Dr Erin Smith<br />

PhD, MPH, MClinEpi<br />

Senior Lecturer<br />

Edith Cowan University<br />

Research Consultant<br />

The Code 9 Foundation<br />

cumulative exposure to traumatic<br />

events as well as poor workplace<br />

culture. We now need to continue<br />

to move forward and use what<br />

we have learned as a benchmark<br />

and measure change over time as<br />

emergency service agencies work<br />

towards improving mental health<br />

outcomes. Beyond Blue Chief<br />

Executive Georgie Harman called on<br />

governments, unions, emergency<br />

services personnel and their families<br />

to convert the evidence into further<br />

action and lasting change. We need<br />

to protect the mental health of<br />

the people behind 000 – our vital<br />

emergency services workforce.<br />

References<br />

(1) Mr Grant Edwards (2018). Submission<br />

to the Senate Education and Employment<br />

Reference Committee Inquiry into the<br />

Mental Health Conditions Experienced by<br />

First Responders, 55, p. 2.<br />

(2) Beyond Blue Ltd. (2018). Answering<br />

the call national survey, National Mental<br />

Health and Wellbeing Study of Police and<br />

Emergency Services – Final report.<br />

(3) National Coronial Information System<br />

(NCIS) (20<strong>15</strong>-16). Annual Report.

New Animal Welfare<br />

Chatbot Enables Quick<br />

Reporting of Pets Left ‘Home<br />

Alone’ in an Emergency<br />

Situate Me, the emergency management crowd sourcing specialist,<br />

behind compassionate Virtual Disaster Assistant, Ema, has launched<br />

a new animal welfare add-on that allows pet owners to register their<br />

animals left home alone in an emergency.<br />

Situate Me Launches ‘Ema for Animals’: Ella Harnish, Helen Wang, Andreas Benz, Rob Gourdie with Mac, the Huntaway

Pet owners who are not at home, or<br />

who are prevented from returning<br />

home, to look after their animals<br />

when disaster strikes, are able to<br />

register their unattended pet with<br />

Ema. Ema takes the pet owner<br />

through a series of conversational<br />

questions to establish the type of<br />

animal, the gender, any medical<br />

issues, special needs or dangerous or<br />

anti-social characteristics.<br />

From a cloud-based dashboard,<br />

authorities who have installed the<br />

platform can gauge the scale of the<br />

operation in advance of heading<br />

into a disaster zone. Emergency<br />

responders can view mapped data to<br />

assess the extent of the unattended<br />

animal issue and plan how best to<br />

prioritise check-ups, rescue and relocation.<br />

Rob Gourdie, Situate Me’s cofounder,<br />

says the unattended<br />

animal bot (a first for the emergency<br />

management industry) will transform<br />

the animal welfare effort in an<br />

emergency situation. He adds that<br />

the operational impact of Ema’s help<br />

for authorities will be huge.<br />

“For pet owners, ‘Ema for Animals’<br />

fulfils a key emotional need. The<br />

extra stress and anxiety that<br />

worrying about a pet adds to an<br />

emergency situation cannot be<br />

underestimated. Importantly, being<br />

able to register an unattended pet<br />

may prevent concerned pet owners<br />

from breaking through cordons and<br />

putting themselves in danger in an<br />

emotionally charged attempt to reach<br />

their unattended animal.<br />

Mr Gourdie also explains that,<br />

currently, in the event of a disaster<br />

a pet owner who can’t reach a<br />

neighbour or a friend, will likely ring<br />

the emergency services or their local<br />

council direct to report that their<br />

animal is on its own.<br />

“It’s then up to the responder to<br />

log the call. With Ema, however, the<br />

platform is set up for pet owners to<br />

self-report their animal’s situation.<br />

The data is collected centrally, visually<br />

presented and accessible in real-time<br />

to the emergency crews.<br />

This means responders’ phones<br />

are freed up and they don’t need<br />

to spend time answering calls.<br />

Instead, with the information at their<br />

fingertips they can devote that time<br />

to the response effort.”<br />

Situate Me launched the Unattended<br />

Animal Registration Bot (‘Ema for<br />

Animals’) at the 58th New Zealand<br />

Institute of Animal Management<br />

conference held in Wellington, in<br />

August. The organisation is now<br />

inviting local councils and emergency<br />

management groups to evaluate<br />

the unattended animal situational<br />

awareness tool with a view to<br />

including it into their preparedness<br />

resources.<br />

Situate Me was formed at a New<br />

Zealand Defence Force sponsored<br />

Start-up Weekend in Wellington in July<br />

2018. With a focus on humanitarian<br />

aid and disaster relief, the workshop<br />

guided the Situate Me team (made<br />

up of experienced emergency<br />

management practitioners, specialist<br />

user-experience designers and data<br />

scientists), through the development<br />

of their project. After 52 hours, the<br />

team - several of whom experienced<br />

the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch<br />

- pitched their idea of a Virtual<br />

Disaster Assistant, Ema, to the<br />

judges and came first. In June this<br />

year, funds of $60,000 were secured<br />

from the Westpac NZ Government<br />

Innovation Fund to pilot Ema.<br />

Emergency groups, as well as pet<br />

owners, can find out more about the<br />

The cloudbased dashboard is geomapped<br />

animal welfare resource – which also<br />

includes a register for unattended<br />

livestock – at<br />

www.situateme.com/animalwelfare<br />

or by emailing Rob Gourdie at<br />


QLD Celebrates SES WEEK<br />

12 October - 20 October <strong>2019</strong><br />



Each year, the spotlight shines on<br />

the spirit of volunteering during<br />

State Emergency Service (SES)<br />

Week. Queenslanders are given the<br />

opportunity to learn more about the<br />

SES and recognise the efforts of SES<br />

Members in their local community<br />

during this momentous week. It is<br />

a week of community education,<br />

engagement and celebration.<br />

SES Week <strong>2019</strong> will run from<br />

Saturday 12 October <strong>2019</strong> to Sunday<br />

20 October <strong>2019</strong>.<br />

It is an excellent opportunity to raise<br />

public awareness of the dedication<br />

and commitment of SES members<br />

and the invaluable services they<br />

perform within their communities.<br />

The celebrations include award<br />

ceremonies held state-wide<br />

throughout SES Week, culminating<br />

in the Queensland State Awards<br />

Ceremony in Brisbane on Saturday<br />

19 October <strong>2019</strong>.<br />

The award ceremonies provide a<br />

rare opportunity to say thank you to<br />

particular SES members that have<br />

clocked up several years of service, or<br />

to those that have undertaken their<br />

role in an exceptional way.<br />

SES Groups will hold events<br />

throughout SES Week to celebrate all<br />

that is great about SES volunteers.<br />

The Queensland State Emergency<br />

Service (SES) is a “not-for-profit,<br />

community, volunteer, emergency<br />

service organisation that is enabled<br />

by both State and local governments.<br />

It shares its highly recognised<br />

name with States and Territory<br />

State Emergency Service (SES)<br />

organisations throughout Australia.<br />

With approximately 6,000 active,<br />

unpaid members the SES performs a<br />

diverse range of functions to respond<br />

to local, State and National disasters<br />

and emergencies.<br />

The SES is designed to empower<br />

people to help themselves and<br />

others in their communities in times<br />

of emergency and disaster. The<br />

basic concept is one of self-help and<br />

mutual assistance.<br />

As a community organisation the SES<br />

must balance their services between:<br />

• actual emergency response to<br />

those most in need<br />

• requests that may inadvertently<br />

remove services that should<br />

otherwise be provided by local<br />

businesses.<br />

Help others by helping yourself.<br />

A resilient community frees SES<br />

resources to go where they are<br />

most needed, assisting our most<br />

vulnerable.<br />

For more information about SES<br />

events that are happening in your<br />

corner of Queensland, please phone<br />

an Area Office near you.

‘You Are Never<br />

Alone”<br />

Foundation Provides much needed<br />

support to PTSD Sufferers<br />

Words: Jess Le Fanu

After starting as a small private<br />

Facebook group, The Code 9<br />

Foundation has now grown<br />

into an Australian recognised charity<br />

supporting almost 3,000 members<br />

suffering from post-traumatic stress<br />

disorder (PTSD).<br />

Founder Mark Thomas knows first<br />

hand the effects PTSD can have<br />

on first responders. In 2003, Mark<br />

was already a seven year veteran of<br />

the Victorian Police force and had<br />

seen his fair share of distressing<br />

scenes. He was young at the time,<br />

but maintained that his resilience<br />

was adequate. However, nothing<br />

prepared him for witnessing the<br />

scene of a suicide. “I can [still] recall<br />

the whole scene,” he says now,<br />

almost 17 years later.<br />

With first responders facing life and<br />

death emergencies on a regular<br />

basis, it’s no wonder that they<br />

experience higher levels of posttraumatic<br />

stress disorder when<br />

compared to the general population.<br />

In fact, around 10% of these<br />

individuals around the globe meet<br />

the criteria for PTSD.<br />

Evidence also suggests that<br />

emergency service personnel such<br />

as firefighters, police officers and<br />

paramedics have a higher prevalence<br />

of mental health disorders across the<br />

board, with paramedics showing the<br />

highest prevalence of PTSD (14.6%)<br />

when compared with their peers.<br />

While the effects of Mark’s grim<br />

incident weren’t immediately<br />

acknowledged by him, he says now, “I

was young and didn’t reach out.” He<br />

admits he was naive about mental<br />

health at the time and ignored the<br />

climbing symptoms of anxiety he<br />

experienced over the next ten years.<br />

Despite there being a general trend<br />

for PTSD symptoms to occur soon<br />

after exposure to a traumatic event,<br />

not everyone’s experience is the<br />

same. On some occasions, the initial<br />

symptoms can present themselves<br />

more that six months after exposure<br />

in what’s known as ‘delayed-onset<br />

PTSD’.<br />

For Mark Thomas, the ten years<br />

following his harrowing experience<br />

eroded his resilience. It wasn’t until<br />

February of 2013 that this erosion<br />

resulted in him being hospitalised<br />

and formally diagnosed with posttraumatic<br />

stress disorder. Looking<br />

back at that time, he states, “My<br />

protective barrier was gone.” He also<br />

acknowledges that during the almost<br />

two weeks spent in hospital, he felt<br />

absolutely alone and didn’t think that<br />

anyone else could possibly feel the<br />

same way.<br />

Mark Thomas - founder of Code 9<br />

However, it was this trip to the<br />

emergency room and subsequent<br />

hospital stay that not only helped<br />

Mark get through this terrible time in<br />

his life, but also inspired his creation<br />

of The Code 9 Foundation. He says, “I<br />

wanted to start a support group to let<br />

others know there are other people<br />

out there that know exactly what<br />

you’re going through.”<br />

Named after the radio code police<br />

officers use for ‘police requiring<br />

urgent assistance’, The Code 9<br />

Foundation aims to create a place<br />

for first responders to support<br />

each other through their PTSD<br />

experiences. “When you hear that<br />

code on the radio,” Mark says,<br />

“everyone stops what they’re doing<br />

and comes for support.” It seems like<br />

the perfect title for a group designed<br />

to make sure its members felt<br />

supported by their peers.<br />

In the beginning, Code 9 was set up<br />

as a peer-to-peer support group that<br />

met in Victoria at various locations.<br />

The idea behind these ‘Peer Support<br />

Catch Ups’ is to provide hundreds<br />

of emergency service personnel<br />

a completely nonjudgmental<br />


Members can be at ease surrounded<br />

by likeminded individuals who<br />

have had similar experiences. The<br />

Facebook page was only initially set<br />

up by Mark to tell people when and<br />

where these groups would meet.<br />

Little did he know that this private<br />

online group would soar to almost<br />

3,000 first responder members and<br />

be the most beneficial aspect of the<br />

organisation.<br />

“[There are] people with anxiety<br />

that can’t get out of the house,”<br />

Mark explains. In the online forum,<br />

members can choose to be as<br />

involved as much or as little as they<br />

like in the safe private Facebook<br />

group Code 9 has created. While<br />

some members enjoy openly sharing<br />

stories and experiences, others<br />

choose to sit back and be comforted<br />

by reading the experiences of others.<br />

Since it is only available to first<br />

responders, it provides a sense of<br />

camaraderie and support only those<br />

who have experienced this line of<br />

work can fully understand.<br />

Around 70% of Code 9’s online<br />

population is made up of those<br />

in the police department as Mark<br />

Thomas initially started spreading<br />

the word of his organisation through<br />

his workmates. The site has now<br />

grown to include both fire fighters<br />

and ambulance workers as well as<br />

000 dispatchers. While most new<br />

members join through word of mouth<br />

from others in their field, Mark says<br />

he does have requests from those<br />

who have stumbled across Code 9 in<br />

the search for help. He is diligent in<br />

checking IDs and ensuring the group<br />

only contains first responders.<br />

Mark is also adamant that the site be<br />

monitored and kept positive. There<br />

is absolutely no operational talk<br />

allowed on the page as it can act as a<br />

trigger for PTSD symptoms. Negative<br />

comments are also immediately<br />

deleted so as not to bring down<br />

the moral of the forum. He says, “If<br />

the conversation starts negative, it<br />

continues negative.” Luckily, there are<br />

page administrators to help with the<br />

task of moderation. They also check<br />

in with people in the group to see if<br />

they are receiving help and can put<br />

them in contact with the welfare unit<br />

available to first responders through<br />

their workplace. “We refer a lot of first<br />

responders to clinics,” says Mark.<br />

Assistance dogs for members of the emergency services who are suffering post<br />

traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety.<br />

In addition to the first responders<br />

forum and catch ups available<br />

throughout Victoria, another private<br />

Facebook page is available to the<br />

partners and carers of these first<br />

responders suffering from PTSD.<br />

With roughly 100 members on this<br />

family page, Mark’s aim is to find<br />

out how The Code 9 Foundation<br />

can best help and support these<br />

carers. After asking the members this<br />

very question, he found that what’s<br />

needed most is simple household<br />

chores. Things like mowing the lawn,<br />

basic housework, and collecting<br />

groceries from the shops were the<br />

top requests and Mark was blown<br />

away by the simplicity of the needs.<br />

“I didn’t realise something so easy<br />

would mean so much,” he says.<br />

Mark is currently researching how<br />

to contract out the work that would<br />

make such a difference to the families<br />

of the PTSD sufferers within the Code<br />

9 Foundation and hopes to roll out<br />

these additions in the near future.<br />

These benefits would be added to the<br />

already invaluable donations Code 9<br />

makes to training support dogs who<br />

help PTSD sufferers deal with their<br />

triggers and remain calm in situations<br />

with crowds of people.<br />

Given the culture of first response<br />

work, many responders will attempt<br />

to minimise mental health symptoms<br />

and may not seek support through<br />

the formal programs available to<br />

them for fear of losing their job.<br />

As Mark says, “You can’t fix PTSD.<br />

You have it for life.” This makes the<br />

existence of peer-to-peer support<br />

programs like Code 9 so important,<br />

as they offer responders a safe and<br />

non-judgemental opportunity to talk<br />

about their mental health.<br />

The Code 9 Foundation assists<br />

first responders and their families<br />

with online and in-person peer-topeer<br />

support, advice on recovery<br />

techniques, navigating the WorkCover<br />

process, and so much more. But<br />

most importantly, it is ensuring that<br />

first responders suffering from PTSD<br />

and their families never feel alone.<br />

If you would like to get involved<br />

with The Code 9 Foundation, visit<br />

www.code9ptsd.org.au for more<br />

information.<br />

Thank you to Mark Thomas and Erin Smith for<br />

providing information for this article.














IO N<br />

O F<br />

S O U TH<br />

I A<br />




THE ONLY<br />



SAFER?<br />

Jacqui Pich<br />

Lecturer in Nursing<br />

University of Technology Sydney<br />

The strike in August by NSW hospital staff over<br />

security concerns has highlighted just how<br />

serious the issue of workplace violence has<br />

become for health-care workers.<br />

The Health Services Union, whose members<br />

include administration, cleaning and security<br />

staff, as well as paramedics and other health<br />

professionals, has reportedly called for measures<br />

including 250 more security guards across the<br />

state to better protect workers.<br />

But tackling the growing problems of violence<br />

in our hospitals is about more than beefing up<br />

security numbers. Violence in our health-care<br />

system is also not limited to inner city hospitals,<br />

and it doesn’t just affect staff in emergency<br />

departments.<br />



The levels of violence in hospitals have been<br />

steadily increasing across Australia.

For example, in NSW there was<br />

a 50% increase in the number of<br />

police-recorded assaults on hospital<br />

premises between 1996 and 2006.<br />

This number has continued to rise<br />

with an average increase of <strong>5.</strong>8%<br />

a year between 2010 and 20<strong>15</strong>.<br />

In Western Australia, there was a<br />

38% increase in assaults on nurses<br />

between 2017 and 2018.<br />

Patients are the main source of<br />

this violence, and this includes the<br />

parents of children admitted to<br />

hospital.<br />

Violence against health-care workers<br />

is also recognised internationally.<br />

The World Health Organisation sees<br />

it as a significant issue. And a US<br />

government report says many healthcare<br />

workers see it as an inevitable<br />

part of their job.<br />

Media attention is often focused on<br />

high-risk areas like the emergency<br />

department and mental health<br />

settings. However, violence occurs<br />

everywhere in the health-care system,<br />

from the community to hospital<br />

wards, even birthing suites.<br />

The impact of violence on healthcare<br />

staff includes physical and<br />

psychological reactions. Symptoms<br />

associated with post-traumatic stress<br />

disorder such as sleeplessness,<br />

nightmares and flashbacks have been<br />

reported and can persist for up to 12<br />

months.<br />

Violence towards health-care staff<br />

has also been linked to perceived<br />

poorer patient care.<br />


Rising levels of violence against<br />

health-care workers suggest current<br />

security measures are not a sufficient<br />

deterrent.<br />

Despite union calls for more security<br />

guards, an interim report NSW Health<br />

commissioned looking at how to<br />

improve hospital security did not<br />

recommend this.<br />

But an increase in security guards is<br />

warranted when you consider that<br />

some rural and regional hospitals<br />

have minimal, or no security<br />

presence; staff in these facilities have<br />

to rely on the police for help if they<br />

encounter a violent patient.<br />

In fact, staff in regional and remote<br />

areas experience the same levels<br />

of violence as their metropolitan<br />

colleagues.<br />

A NSW Health spokesperson says<br />

the author of its hospital security<br />

report is visiting hospitals in rural<br />

and regional areas to understand<br />

their security challenges and this<br />

information will be included in the<br />

final report, due by the end of the<br />

year.<br />

While an added security presence<br />

may be warranted in some<br />

circumstances, more security<br />

guards would not impact staff<br />

working outside hospitals, including<br />

paramedics and community nurses.<br />

Then there’s the quality of security<br />

guards.<br />

Health is a unique environment<br />

where traditional security measures<br />

can be counter-productive. For<br />

instance, if guards use inappropriate<br />

communication when people are<br />

anxious and stressed they can<br />

increase the chance of a situation<br />

escalating.<br />

What’s needed are specially trained<br />

health security guards, working<br />

with doctors and nurses, as part of<br />

a multidisciplinary rapid response<br />

team. This doctor-led team would be<br />

called in to manage violent behaviour,<br />

for instance to “take down” a violent<br />

patient.<br />

The Health Services Union has<br />

reportedly called on the NSW<br />

government to commit A$50 million<br />

for a proactive security team at<br />

hospitals, including staff trained in<br />

mental health, drug and alcohol<br />

abuse.<br />

This makes sense as patients under<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />



the influence of alcohol and/or drugs,<br />

including ice, and those with mental<br />

health issues, are the ones most likely<br />

to be violent.<br />



A spokesperson for NSW Health<br />

says A$19 million has been invested<br />

to improve security in emergency<br />

departments at public hospitals, and<br />

more than A$5 million to upgrade<br />

duress alarms for staff in emergency<br />

departments.<br />

However violence in health care<br />

extends beyond the emergency<br />

department to all clinical specialities<br />

and beyond the walls of a hospital.<br />

In a recent study of NSW nurses and<br />

midwives, staff discussed the physical<br />

design and layout of wards, and areas<br />

that should be secure but aren’t, as<br />

reasons they felt unsafe at work.<br />

In particular, they described feeling<br />

unsafe returning to the car park<br />

in the dark, often with no security<br />

personnel present and in poorly lit<br />

conditions. Lack of duress alarms,<br />

poor placement of duress alarms or<br />

non-functioning duress alarms were<br />

also an issue.<br />


The NSW interim report into<br />

hospital security acknowledges<br />

some shortcomings in the current<br />

management of violence in health<br />

care and as such is a positive step in<br />

reducing the risk to staff.<br />

However, the persistent nature and<br />

increasing levels of the violence mean<br />

that the state government needs to<br />

prioritise the safety of all health-care<br />

staff.<br />

First published on The Conversation<br />

Life Fitness Finance<br />

Pty Ltd




Andrea Ficchì<br />

Postdoctoral Researcher in Hydrology, University of Reading<br />

The number of people exposed to<br />

the risk of floods is rising. More<br />

and expanding human settlements<br />

are being built in flood-prone areas,<br />

especially in Africa, Asia and South<br />

America. This is undoubtedly linked<br />

to the dramatic increase in death tolls<br />

and economic damages from floods<br />

experienced in Africa over the past<br />

decades.<br />

The largest flood events in Africa<br />

often cross countries’ borders.<br />

They overwhelm national and<br />

local authorities’ capacities. This<br />

makes early warning and response<br />

challenging, as was seen during<br />

tropical cyclones Idai and Kenneth in<br />

early <strong>2019</strong>.<br />

Cyclone Idai struck central<br />

Mozambique in March <strong>2019</strong>. It also<br />

caused floods in Zimbabwe and<br />

Malawi. Around 1000 people died<br />

and hundreds of thousands were left<br />

homeless across the three countries.<br />

Six weeks later, Cyclone Kenneth<br />

devastated northern Mozambique.<br />

It brought extreme winds and<br />

flooding to the country, which was<br />

still reeling from Cyclone Idai. Dozens<br />

more people were killed. There was<br />

widespread destruction.<br />

These cyclones, and the devastation<br />

they wrought, show how important it<br />

is to integrate local information and<br />

resources with global scale forecasts<br />

and support.<br />

My colleagues and I from the<br />

University of Reading saw this<br />

first-hand during cyclones Idai<br />

and Kenneth. Together with the<br />

European Centre for Medium-<br />

Range Weather Forecasts and the<br />

University of Bristol, we provided<br />

real-time emergency flood hazard<br />

and exposure bulletins to the<br />

UK’s Department for International<br />

Development (DFID).<br />

This ministerial department leads<br />

the UK’s work to end extreme<br />

poverty and tackle global challenges<br />

to support people in developing<br />

countries across Africa, Asia and<br />

the Middle East. A number of other<br />

partners were involved, both from<br />

the affected countries and the rest of<br />

the world.

We harnessed our resources and<br />

access to global data, feeding this<br />

to local partners. Our regular flood<br />

bulletins contained interpretation of<br />

flood forecasts and satellite images<br />

from the Copernicus Emergency<br />

Management Service. Humanitarian<br />

response partners were able to<br />

identify where and when flooding<br />

would occur and recede. They could<br />

also work out when access would<br />

improve, as well as where future<br />

humanitarian need could emerge.<br />

This helped them to better plan their<br />

response and to target those most in<br />

need.<br />

This show<br />

s how crucial it is to pair local<br />

capacity with a growing international<br />

community of disaster managers,<br />

humanitarians and scientists. All<br />

countries would benefit from a better<br />

integration of these services on a<br />

global scale.<br />

Data, science and advice<br />

There are already a number of<br />

international initiatives that show how<br />

this work can be done.<br />

One example is the Global Flood<br />

Partnership. This cooperation<br />

framework between scientific<br />

organisations and flood disaster<br />

managers worldwide allows for the<br />

development of effective tools for<br />

better predicting and managing flood<br />

risk.<br />

Another example is the Forecastbased<br />

Financing mechanism<br />

developed by the Red Cross Red<br />

Crescent Movement. This is used<br />

to kick-start and fund humanitarian<br />

activities before disasters such as<br />

floods have even occurred. It is<br />

supported by scientific evidence on<br />

the accuracy of hydro-meteorological<br />

forecasting systems.<br />

One research project supporting<br />

Forecast-based Financing is the<br />

FATHUM project (Forecasts for<br />

Anticipatory Humanitarian Action).<br />

It’s led by the University of Reading<br />

and funded by DFID and the Natural<br />

Environment Research Council<br />

under the Science for Humanitarian<br />

Emergencies & Resilience (SHEAR)

programme. The project’s<br />

international team includes partners<br />

in different sub-Saharan countries.<br />

We work together on decision-making<br />

from flood forecasting systems to<br />

support humanitarian and local<br />

preparedness actions. This project<br />

includes strengthening forecasting<br />

and research capacities in higher<br />

education institutions in Uganda,<br />

South Africa and Mozambique,<br />

for example through research<br />

placements.<br />

We saw just how valuable such<br />

global partnerships can be in the<br />

immediate aftermath of cyclones Idai<br />

and Kenneth. The governments of<br />

Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe<br />

mobilised their available resources<br />

for early response in the affected<br />

areas. The international community,<br />

meanwhile, sent humanitarian aid.<br />

During Idai, my colleagues and<br />

I worked with DFID in close<br />

collaboration with the European<br />

Centre for Medium-Range Weather<br />

Forecasts and the University of<br />

Bristol. Our briefings included<br />

interpreting flood forecasts from the<br />

Copernicus Emergency Management<br />

Service Global Flood Awareness<br />

System (GloFAS) and the University<br />

of Bristol’s flood hazard maps. This<br />

allowed us to identify where and<br />

when flooding may occur. We were<br />

also able to pinpoint where and how<br />

many people might be affected.<br />

These efforts were bolstered<br />

by partners on the ground in<br />

Mozambique. They shared local data<br />

on the state of river flooding and on<br />

the dams’ situation. This contributed<br />

to the production and validation<br />

of some of the information in our<br />

bulletins.<br />

<br />

<br />

NAAFLS<br />



The briefings were shared with<br />

international and local humanitarian<br />

partners and Mozambique’s disaster<br />

management authorities. They were<br />

able to use these bulletins alongside<br />

local forecasts and warnings. They<br />

now had data to identify high-risk<br />

areas and decide where to set up<br />

emergency shelters, provide food and<br />

clean water.<br />

Our work around Idai was highly<br />

appreciated by humanitarian<br />

response partners on the ground. UN<br />

humanitarian actors stated that “the<br />

reports produced were tremendously<br />

helpful”. So both DFID and the United<br />

Nations Office for the Coordination<br />

of Humanitarian Affairs asked the<br />

team to start producing bulletins<br />

ahead of Cyclone Kenneth. Armed<br />

with our forecasts and information,<br />

those on the ground put together<br />

an assessment team and put some<br />

emergency measures in place.<br />

These included contingency stock,<br />

hygiene kits for water treatment, and<br />

tarpaulins.<br />

The importance of transnational<br />

cooperation<br />

It is important to keep building<br />

relationships between national<br />

forecasting and disaster management<br />

services and international<br />

organisations and scientists. This will<br />

help to improve flood preparedness<br />

and early actions. And that is<br />

especially important for large-scale<br />

floods that cross borders.<br />

Intergovernmental meteorological<br />

organisations, such as the European<br />

Centre for Medium-Range<br />

Weather Forecasts and the World<br />

Meteorological Organisation, are<br />

a good example of where such<br />

wide transnational cooperation has<br />

produced better services.<br />

The weather forecasts produced and<br />

disseminated by these international<br />

centres have been improved<br />

significantly, especially in recent<br />

years. That’s happened thanks to<br />

the integration of local observations<br />

and satellite measurements into<br />

global forecasting systems. These are<br />

shared with national meteorological<br />

agencies worldwide.<br />

Such collaboration is urgently<br />

needed, alongside other investments<br />

such as resilient planning of human<br />

settlements outside flood-prone<br />

areas. Working together on a global<br />

scale will likely save many more lives<br />

during future floods.<br />

This article was first published on The<br />

Conversation<br />

Rare and Beautiful, Gemstones<br />

and Crystals, Exhibition and Sales




Australia has enacted 82 anti-terror laws since 2001, but are these<br />

tough laws having any effect on terrorism?<br />

Nicola McGarrity<br />

Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, UNSW<br />

Jessie Blackbourn<br />

Assistant Professor in Public Law and Human Rights, Durham University

In late September, Home Affairs<br />

Minister Peter Dutton introduced a<br />

new bill that would give him stronger<br />

powers to strip the Australian<br />

citizenship of dual nationals convicted<br />

of terror-related offences or who in<br />

engage in related activities.<br />

In response to the prospect of<br />

foreign fighters returning from<br />

conflicts overseas, the bill proposes<br />

extending the current citizenship<br />

revocation law to any dual national<br />

who is convicted of a terrorism<br />

offence carrying at least three years<br />

imprisonment (compared to the<br />

current six).<br />

It would also be back-dated to<br />

account for any terrorism convictions<br />

or conduct from May 2003 onwards<br />

(compared to the current cut-off date<br />

of December 20<strong>15</strong>).<br />

To protect the rights of dual<br />

nationals, the bill proposes changing<br />

the process for revoking citizenship.<br />

Instead of it automatically ceasing<br />

when people engage in terror-related<br />

conduct, the minister would have the<br />

sole power to decide if they should<br />

be stripped of their citizenship.<br />

This procedural change is unusual<br />

because moves to repeal or wind<br />

back anti-terrorism laws have been<br />

few and far between.<br />

Unfortunately, however, in all other<br />

respects, the new citizenship bill<br />

fits squarely within the pattern of<br />

overzealous Australian anti-terror<br />

law-making over the past 18 years.<br />

A new law every 6.7 weeks<br />

Since the September 11, 2001,<br />

terrorist attacks in the United States,<br />

the Australian parliament has<br />

responded to the threat of terrorism<br />

here and overseas by enacting<br />

dozens of new laws or amending<br />

existing laws.<br />

In 2011, University of Toronto<br />

Professor Kent Roach famously<br />

described this response in Australia<br />

as one of “hyper-legislation”.<br />

Another expert, UNSW Professor<br />

George Williams calculated that<br />

between the September 11 terrorist<br />

attacks and the defeat of the Howard<br />

government in November 2007, a<br />

new anti-terror law was enacted on<br />

average every 6.7 weeks.<br />

The declaration of a caliphate by<br />

the Islamic State in mid-2014 led to<br />

another flurry of legislative activity in<br />

parliament.<br />

This started with the National Security<br />

Legislation Amendment Act (No 1)<br />

2014 (Cth), which controversially<br />

exempted undercover ASIO officers<br />

from criminal prosecution, expanded<br />

that organisation’s access to<br />

computer networks, and restricted<br />

the leaking of sensitive information.<br />

In the five years since then, 19<br />

more anti-terrorism laws have been<br />

passed. That brings the total number<br />

of substantive anti-terrorism laws<br />

enacted by parliament to 82 since<br />

the Sept. 11 attacks, with a further<br />

six bills either currently before<br />

parliament or about to be introduced.<br />

This is a staggering number of laws,<br />

and far exceeds the volume in the<br />

United Kingdom, Canada and even<br />

the United States in response to Sept<br />

11.<br />

Draconian and unworkable laws<br />

It is not only the sheer number of<br />

laws, but also their scope, which<br />

makes Australia stand out among<br />

Western democracies.<br />

At the core of Australia’s antiterrorism<br />

regime is a carefully<br />

considered and, in the eyes of most<br />

commentators, balanced definition of<br />

terrorism.<br />

However, as the years have gone<br />

by, increasingly draconian, and<br />

often unworkable, legislation has<br />

spiralled out beyond this definition.<br />

For instance, the mere act of travel<br />

to certain areas, such as Mosul in<br />

Iraq, has been criminalised, as well as<br />

advocating terrorism.<br />

Instead of working with companies<br />

like Facebook and Twitter in the<br />

aftermath of the Christchurch<br />

terrorist attacks, the government<br />

imposed impractical obligations on<br />

them to scrutinise the online activities<br />

of their customers (with further laws<br />

threatened in the event of noncompliance).<br />

In addition to the stripping of the<br />

citizenship of dual nationals, another<br />

bill would prevent anyone from<br />

returning home from overseas<br />

conflicts for a considerable period of<br />

time under a Temporary Exclusion<br />

Order, even Australians who don’t<br />

hold another passport.<br />

Another bill before parliament would<br />

require people who have previously<br />

been charged with a terrorism

offence (regardless of whether they<br />

were ultimately acquitted) to prove<br />

extraordinary circumstances before<br />

being granted bail for a subsequent<br />

offence.<br />

This demonstrates just how far<br />

lawmakers have strayed from the<br />

fundamental human rights and<br />

principles of criminal justice.<br />

What anti-terror laws are intended to<br />

do<br />

In the immediate aftermath of the<br />

September 11 attacks, Australian<br />

lawmakers might have been excused<br />

any overreaction on the grounds the<br />

country didn’t have much historical<br />

experience with terrorism or in<br />

legislating in response to this threat.<br />

At the time, there were no specific<br />

anti-terrorism laws at the federal level<br />

in Australia. This was undoubtedly a<br />

significant oversight which needed to<br />

be remedied.<br />

Even today, more than 18 years<br />

on and with over 80 laws in place,<br />

it’s somewhat understandable<br />

lawmakers react to terrorist attacks<br />

by seeking to take swift action.<br />

One of the (few) downsides of a<br />

democratic political system is that<br />

parliamentarians are hit with the full<br />

force of public hysteria about actual<br />

and perceived terrorist threats. The<br />

most obvious way for the parliament<br />

to address these fears is through the<br />

enactment of laws.<br />

As Roger Wilkins, a former<br />

secretary of the Attorney-General’s<br />

department, said in support of<br />

proposals to strengthen the control<br />

orders laws in the aftermath of<br />

the November 20<strong>15</strong> Paris terrorist<br />

attacks:<br />

In a modern, liberal democracy, that’s<br />

about the only thing you can do.<br />

Despite frequent claims to the<br />

contrary, this is not just a case of<br />

political opportunism on the part<br />

of the governing party. The steps<br />

taken by lawmakers are crucial in reestablishing<br />

the community’s sense<br />

of security.<br />

We need to acknowledge, above all,<br />

that the buck stops with our elected<br />

representatives to protect the lives<br />

of the Australian people. They bear<br />

both the personal and professional<br />

responsibility if a terrorist act occurs<br />

which could have been prevented.<br />

It is this, as much as anything else,<br />

that explains the rapid and bipartisan<br />

passage of so many laws through the<br />

parliament.<br />

Terrorism can’t be defeated through<br />

laws alone<br />

Having said all this, it’s unfortunate<br />

successive Australian governments<br />

<br />


on both sides seem to have learned<br />

little over the course of the last 18<br />

years.<br />

Statements made in the aftermath<br />

of every terrorist attack, and, most<br />

recently in responding to concerns<br />

about foreign terrorist fighters, have<br />

identified the ultimate goal as being<br />

to “defy” and “defeat” terrorism.<br />

While statements such as this are<br />

clearly rhetorical, what underpins<br />

them is a failure to recognise the<br />

permanence of terrorism.<br />

Terrorism in one form or another<br />

has always existed, and will always<br />

continue to exist. Neither legislation<br />

nor anything else will be able to<br />

eliminate this threat.<br />

The idea of managing the threat of<br />

terrorism, in the sense that some<br />

degree of terrorism is acceptable or<br />

at least to be expected, might seem<br />

politically unpalatable. However, open<br />

acceptance of the permanence of<br />

terrorism means lawmakers will no<br />

longer be chasing – and the public no<br />

longer demanding – the achievement<br />

of an impossible goal.<br />

It will also, in turn, facilitate a more<br />

proportionate response to the<br />

challenges posed by the foreign<br />

fighters phenomenon and the threat<br />

of terrorism more generally.<br />

A better way forward<br />

In a quest to eliminate terrorism, laws<br />

have been enacted that make everincreasing<br />

intrusions into people’s<br />

lives and curtail human rights for<br />

diminishing returns in terms of<br />

security.<br />

Some have even suggested these<br />

laws make us less safe. In its<br />

submission to the Parliamentary<br />

Joint Committee on Intelligence and<br />

Security’s inquiry into the citizenship<br />

stripping laws, ASIO said these<br />

measures could:<br />

“have unintended or unforeseen<br />

adverse security outcomes –<br />

potentially including reducing one<br />

manifestation of the terrorist threat<br />

while exacerbating another.”<br />

It will never be appropriate or<br />

desirable for governments to sit back<br />

and take no action in response to the<br />

threat of terrorism. But what we need<br />

is a sharp change in approach.<br />

Countering violent extremism<br />

programs have been used in Australia<br />

and other countries as another tool<br />

for responding to terrorism threats.<br />

Instead of treating such programs as<br />

a “backup” option, as they currently<br />

are in Australia, these should be<br />

brought to the fore.<br />

The critical lesson of the past 18<br />

years is that we must think creatively<br />

about how to combat the threat of<br />

terrorism, rather than continually<br />

reworking existing – and often<br />

demonstrably unsuccessful –<br />

strategies.<br />

Article first published on The Conversation

Veterans<br />

Homeless<br />

in Australia<br />

The number of homeless defence veterans in<br />

Australia is far bigger than previously thought,<br />

according to a new study. Our research puts the<br />

figure at almost 5,800 veterans experiencing<br />

homelessness in a 12 month period.<br />

Veterans are also more likely to be homeless than<br />

other people in the Australian community. We<br />

found the homelessness rate for veterans who<br />

recently left the ADF was <strong>5.</strong>3% – significantly<br />

higher than the 1.9% for the general population.<br />

Written by:<br />

Fiona Hilferty<br />

Senior Research Fellow, Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW<br />

Ellie Lawrence-Wood<br />

Senior Research Fellow in Traumatic Stress Studies, University of Adelaide<br />

Ilan Katz Ilan Katz is a Friend of The Conversation.<br />

Professor of Social Policy, UNSW<br />

Miranda Van Hooff<br />

Director of Research Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies, University of Adelaide

A lack of data<br />

Before the release of this estimate,<br />

an accurate number of homeless<br />

veterans in Australia was not known,<br />

and estimates varied widely. That is<br />

because there is limited national data<br />

available to count homeless veterans.<br />

Prevalence rates are typically<br />

calculated by dividing the number of<br />

people with a specific characteristic<br />

(such as not having a secure home)<br />

by the total number of people in<br />

the population of interest (such as<br />

veterans).<br />

This method is not possible in<br />

Australia as there is no data set<br />

that defines the veteran population.<br />

We do not even know how many<br />

veterans there are in Australia,<br />

because reliable data of serving<br />

personnel is only available from 2001.<br />

One previous attempt at determining<br />

prevalence of homelessness among<br />

veterans was the Veterans at Risk<br />

report in 2009, funded by the<br />

Department of Veterans’ Affairs<br />

(DVA). This relied on census data<br />

(which does not identify veterans)<br />

and produced an estimate of around<br />

3,000 homeless veterans.<br />

Another attempt was made by DVA in<br />

2016. No information was provided<br />

on how it estimated there to be<br />

around 200-300 homeless veterans<br />

throughout Australia. This knowledge<br />

gap was a concern for government<br />

policymakers as well as veteran<br />

advocates who have been calling for<br />

further research and an increased<br />

service response for years.<br />

Without a baseline count, they are<br />

unable to determine whether veteran<br />

homelessness is increasing, plan<br />

an appropriate service and policy<br />

response, or assess the effectiveness<br />

of any interventions. It is therefore<br />

vital to establish a more robust<br />

estimate.<br />

How we came up with our<br />

estimate<br />

Our estimate is obtained from survey<br />

data representative of all veterans<br />

who left regular Australian Defence<br />

Force (ADF) service between 2010<br />

and 2014.<br />

The survey was done as part of<br />

the DVA and Defence Departmentfunded<br />

Transition and Wellbeing<br />

Research Programme. This is the<br />

most comprehensive study in<br />

Australia that examines the impact<br />

of military service on the mental,<br />

physical and social health of serving<br />

and ex-serving personnel.<br />

The survey was completed by 4,326<br />

men and women who left the ADF<br />

in the five-year time period. The<br />

results were weighted to represent<br />

the entire population of Australian<br />

Defence Force personnel that left<br />

between 2010 and 2014.<br />

We used the Australian Bureau of<br />

Statistics’ definition of homelessness.<br />

This classifies as homeless anyone<br />

who is sleeping rough, couch-surfing,<br />

or living in emergency or temporary<br />

accommodation such as shelters.<br />

We found around <strong>5.</strong>3% of these<br />

veterans reported they had been<br />

homeless within the past 12 months.<br />

To calculate the prevalence of<br />

homelessness we extrapolated this<br />

proportion to the total population of<br />

veterans who enlisted after January 1,<br />

2001, and were discharged sometime<br />

between 2001 and 2018.<br />

The veteran population total is<br />

108,825, so taking <strong>5.</strong>3% of this figure<br />

gives us an estimate of 5,767 of<br />

veterans who were homeless within a<br />

12-month period.<br />

This extrapolation reasonably<br />

assumes the homelessness rate<br />

is similar between veterans who<br />

transitioned from Regular ADF service<br />

between 2010 and 2014 and the total<br />

population of veterans (2001-18).<br />

Both groups fall within the cohort<br />

described as contemporary veterans<br />

by the DVA. These veterans have<br />

seen military operations from 1999<br />

onward and often share features of<br />

recent service, such as the impact<br />

of multiple deployments in smaller<br />

contingents and the use of new<br />

technologies.<br />

While the 12-month homelessness<br />

rate for veterans (<strong>5.</strong>3%) and the<br />

general Australian population aged<br />

over <strong>15</strong> (1.9%) were calculated using<br />

different techniques, the comparison<br />

shows veterans are overrepresented<br />

in the Australian homeless<br />


The best estimate, so far<br />

We believe our method provides<br />

the best estimate to date of<br />

homelessness among veterans in<br />

Australia, but it is still likely to be an<br />

underest.<br />

Homeless veterans are an extremely<br />

hard group to reach. It is likely that<br />

many potential survey participants<br />

who were homeless at the time<br />

the survey was conducted, did not<br />

complete the survey.<br />

Our estimate also excludes all<br />

those who served in the ADF prior<br />

to January 1, 2001. Older veterans<br />

such as those who served in Vietnam<br />

do experience homelessness in<br />

Australia, but the prevalence among<br />

this group is unknown.<br />

As part of our research, eight of the<br />

29 homeless veterans we interviewed<br />

were aged over 55, with the oldest<br />

being 74. US research says there<br />

is often a long time lag between<br />

transition from military service and<br />

becoming homeless.<br />

Lest we forget<br />

Our research puts a new number on<br />

the problem. We still do not know<br />

whether veteran homelessness is<br />

increasing over time, but the broader<br />

context of homelessness increasing<br />

throughout Australia suggests this<br />

may be the case.<br />

As Remembrance Day approaches,<br />

and Australians prepare to thank our<br />

military men and women for their<br />

service, we suggest that attention<br />

should also turn to addressing this<br />

national shame.<br />

Our research also identifies ways<br />

that service responses can be<br />

improved. It will require a great deal<br />

of will and significant funding to<br />

address what has until now been an<br />

underestimated problem.<br />

Article first published on The Conversation<br />

Commercial Slabs And Design<br />

Residential Concrete slabs<br />

Earth works & excavation<br />

Driveways & Footpaths<br />

Canberra ACT 2601<br />

beaumontconcreting@gmail.com<br />

www.beaumontconcreting.com.au<br />


www.renegadeblasters.com.au<br />

10 Rylie st, Surfers Paradise QLD 4217 renegadeblasters@gmail.com 0401 948 440


In each edition the Australian Emergency Services Magazine will feature<br />

a profile on a person, team, partnership, squad or unit to showcase their<br />

unique contribution to the emergency services industry. If you would like to<br />

be featured or know someone who deserves some recognition get in touch<br />

with our team.<br />



Led by a strong young Commander, the Port Hedland<br />

<strong>Vol</strong>unteer Marine Rescue Group battles wild weather in<br />

the home of the largest bulk minerals port in the world.<br />

When Commander Zachary Slaughter first joined the<br />

Port Hedland <strong>Vol</strong>unteer Marine Rescue Group in 2014,<br />

there were only a handful of members and the group<br />

was on the brink of failure. “We recruited a couple of<br />

our mates and slowly, but surely people in town started<br />

volunteering,” he said. They have now brought new life to<br />

the Port Hedland VMR with a crew of 36 members.<br />

With the median age of the group sitting at 31, they are<br />

the youngest volunteer marine rescue group in Western<br />

Australia. In fact, over 50% of their volunteers are<br />

between the ages of 25 and 34 with no volunteers over<br />

the age of 54.<br />

The young age of the volunteers is a reflection of the<br />

transient Port Hedland mining community as is the short<br />

tenure period, with most usually remaining in the VMR for<br />

an average of two years.<br />

The transient environment here, combined with the<br />

remoteness of its location and limited recreational

activities, make volunteering attractive to the Port<br />

Hedland residents. Mr. Slaughter says, “They wanted<br />

to increase their marine knowledge, come out and do<br />

rescues and be a part of a community group.”<br />

As a part of the VMR, its members receive regular<br />

training and the senior skippers complete Coxswain<br />

training, a course that equips them with the necessary<br />

skills to command, safely and efficiently, a commercial<br />

vessel engaged in inshore operations.<br />

Marine Rescue Port Hedland are involved with the<br />

busy port of this region by supporting them in Marine<br />

Emergency Management.<br />

This, sometimes dangerous, workload can include<br />

rescuing individuals who have fallen overboard from<br />

commercial vessels, searching for ditched helicopters<br />

and their pilots, rescuing recreational vessels and<br />

clearing them from the main shipping channel,<br />

removing capsized vessels from marine trafficked<br />

areas, and much more.<br />

As Port Hedland has the largest bulk export port in the<br />

world and the largest iron ore loading port in Australia,<br />

it’s no wonder these brave rescue volunteers are kept<br />

busy.<br />

The 2018/19 period saw 6,147 vessel movements<br />

through Port Hedland as well as 513,302,391 tonnes<br />

of commodities shifted through its waters. Though<br />

iron ore is this region’s main export, making up 99.1%<br />

of the tonnage exported here last year, others include<br />

salt, lithium, copper, and manganese.<br />

The busy port of this region not only sees a great<br />

number of vessel movements, but also incredibly<br />

large ocean swells as it sits in the most cyclone-prone<br />

region of Australia. Port Hedland saw a 7.5 metre tide<br />

in March of this year. To make matters worse, this also<br />

coincided with Cyclone Veronica, which brought storm<br />

surges to the Pilbara Coast.<br />

The port of Port Hedland measured an additional<br />

almost 1.5 metres above the high tide of 7.5m. Tides<br />

like these significantly impact the vessel response<br />

operations of the VMR and have sometimes seen<br />

volunteers having to wait hours to retrieve vessels.<br />

The Port Hedland’s <strong>Vol</strong>unteer Marine Rescue group’s<br />

main purpose is to preserve life at sea and the<br />

professionally trained personnel are ready to assist<br />

those within their community 24 hours a day, 365 days<br />

a year. They manage to do this through wild weather<br />

and on top of full- time work. “I work a full-time job<br />

in the railway up here, and when I’m not working, I’m<br />

down here at the rescue service,” says Commander<br />

Zachary Slaughter.<br />

Mr. Slaughter’s commitment to the VMR is evident<br />

as he says, “I try to be out on the water, running this<br />

organisation, training, recruiting new members, and<br />

doing our community days.” It is no wonder that he<br />

has recently been awarded with the Department of<br />

Fire and Emergency Service Award for Outstanding<br />

Individual Achievement in recognition of his tireless

efforts in rebuilding Port Hedland’s <strong>Vol</strong>unteer Marine<br />

Rescue service.<br />

Thanks to a bright young commander who took it<br />

upon himself to rebuild the struggling Port Hedland<br />

<strong>Vol</strong>unteer Marine Rescue, this mining community<br />

on Western Australia’s Pilbara Coast can rest easy<br />

knowing they have a team of skilled, effective and<br />

efficient volunteers monitoring their coastline no<br />

matter what conditions this region throws their way.<br />

For more information visit:<br />

www.vmrsporthedland.com.au<br />

Words: Jess Le Fanu<br />

Zac recieving the award for Outstanding Individual Achievement

In an emergency, call Triple Zero (000)<br />

To contact the police, fire or ambulance in an emergency, call<br />

Triple Zero (000) from any telephone in Australia. Calls are free.<br />

When to call Triple Zero (000)<br />

You should only call Triple Zero (000) in life<br />

threatening or time critical situations when<br />

an urgent response is required from police,<br />

fire or ambulance.<br />

What will happen when I call<br />

Triple Zero (000)?<br />

The operator will ask you which emergency<br />

service you require—police, fire or ambulance<br />

—and will connect you. The operator may also<br />

ask where you are calling from.<br />

What if I have difficulty speaking English?<br />

If you have difficulty speaking English, you<br />

can ask for an interpreter once you have been<br />

transferred to the emergency service you<br />

requested. You will not have to pay for the<br />

interpreter.<br />

When you call Triple Zero (000), stay calm,<br />

stay on the line and clearly answer the<br />

operator’s questions.<br />



SPEAK UP.<br />

CALL THE<br />


1800 123 400<br />

Even if you think it’s probably nothing, the smallest piece of information<br />

can be valuable. Calls to the National Security Hotline have already<br />

contributed to investigations. If something doesn’t add up, speak up<br />

by calling the National Security Hotline.





Learn the signs. Watch for the signs.<br />

Put your hand up for help. Reach out to help others.<br />


IO N<br />

O F<br />

S O U TH<br />

I A<br />


Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!