AESM Vol 17, Issue 1 2020

The latest Australian Emergency Services Magazine for 2020. The latest in news from the emergency services sector and emergency management. Latest columns from Associate Professor Erin Cotter-Smith, Dr Michael Eburn and Paramedic Tammie Bullard. Women in Emergency Services, Bushfire Recovery, Supporting the wellbeing of our volunteers, BNHCRC Disaster Inquiry Database and latest travel adventure in Emergency Breaks.

The latest Australian Emergency Services Magazine for 2020. The latest in news from the emergency services sector and emergency management. Latest columns from Associate Professor Erin Cotter-Smith, Dr Michael Eburn and Paramedic Tammie Bullard. Women in Emergency Services, Bushfire Recovery, Supporting the wellbeing of our volunteers, BNHCRC Disaster Inquiry Database and latest travel adventure in Emergency Breaks.


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VOL <strong>17</strong>: Isssue 1, <strong>2020</strong><br />

As the Smoke Clears<br />


We’ve got your back.<br />

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We treat our members like colleagues.<br />

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We’re rallying for<br />

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Who Can Join?<br />

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

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For more information:<br />

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enquiries@eshealth.com.au<br />

VISIT<br />

eshealth.com.au<br />

Emergency Services Health Pty Ltd ABN 98 131 093 877




Women in the<br />

Emergency<br />

Services<br />

“<br />

The Day the<br />

Sun Didn’t<br />

Rise<br />

Surf Life Saving<br />

NSW<br />

At 3am on the morning<br />

of 31 December 2019,<br />

surf lifesaver Cheryl<br />

McCarthy received a<br />

phone call that began<br />

the longest and most<br />

complex emergency<br />

callout of her volunteer<br />

career.<br />

21<br />

“<br />

A closer look at the<br />

number of women joining<br />

the various Emergency<br />

Services fields and their<br />

experiences from within.<br />

27<br />


Bushfire Recovery<br />

a Marathon not a<br />

Sprint<br />

The research from<br />

previous natural disasters<br />

suggests there is a long<br />

road ahead for survivors<br />

of the current bushfire<br />

crisis.<br />

15<br />

Supporting the<br />

Wellbeing of our<br />

<strong>Vol</strong>unteers<br />

How the fires have<br />

impacted the well-being of<br />

the thousands of Australian<br />

volunteers who have<br />

responded to devastated<br />

communities.<br />

19<br />

36<br />

The Vulnerability of<br />

our Veterans<br />

Why are army veterans<br />

at higher risk of suicide,<br />

homelessness and prison?<br />

The numbers are alarming<br />

and the lack of support for<br />

our veterans in many areas<br />

is clear.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au<br />

BNHCRC Disaster<br />

Inquiries Database<br />

Australia’s emergency<br />

services can now easily<br />

navigate through 130 years<br />

of data from inquiries,<br />

reviews and coronial<br />

inquests into natural<br />

disasters in one place.<br />



• Editor’s Note<br />

4<br />

• Recent Events<br />

The National Emergency Medal<br />

ESTA Emergency Response<br />

Resilient Australia Awards<br />

CFA-VFBV Firefighter State Championships<br />

• Emergency Law with Dr Michael Eburn<br />

• Through the Lens - with Photojournalist Blair Horgan<br />

• Let’s Talk Mental Health with A/Prof Erin Cotter- Smith<br />

• The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Paramedic<br />

• In the Spotlight - Uniforms 4 Kids<br />

• Emergency Breaks - Gold Coast, Queensland<br />

5<br />

6<br />

7<br />

8<br />

9<br />

11<br />

25<br />

31<br />

39<br />

41<br />


<strong>AESM</strong> APP<br />

Stay connected and up<br />

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emergency services news<br />

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Associate Professor Erin Cotter-Smith<br />

Course Coordinator of the School of<br />

Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan<br />

University. Research Consultant at The<br />

Code 9 Foundation. Well-Being Team Co-<br />

Lead, The Australian Red Cross.<br />


Dr Michael Eburn - PHD, Barrister<br />

and leading expert in law relating to<br />

emergency management & emergency<br />

services.<br />



Tammie Bullard is a paramedic and<br />

sessional lecturer based in Western<br />

Australia. Author of The Good, The Bad<br />

& The Ugly Paramedic<br />


Editorial Content<br />

press@ausemergencyservices.com.au<br />

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3<br />



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

Emergency Services Magazine for <strong>2020</strong>.<br />

As we go to print it would seem that the worst bushfire<br />

season in history is behind us. As a nation we have<br />

been united in grief as so many of our fellow Australians<br />

have lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods. The brave<br />

members of the largest volunteer fire service in the<br />

world are finally able to stand down and rest after the<br />

most exhausting season to date. The country salutes<br />

these incredible men and women who will no doubt feel<br />

the effects of this experience for many years to come.<br />

The land is starting to regenerate and communities<br />

are slowly seeing the funds to help repair and recover.<br />

This process is going to take time as the damage done<br />

by the fires was not just to the landscape. Let’s stay<br />

united through this process to not only continue to<br />

support those who have been affected but also to<br />

the volunteers in our communities who are vital to<br />

providing this support.<br />

From drought to fires and now to floods. We live in a<br />

land of extreme weather and the summer season is the<br />

busiest for all of our emergency service personnel.<br />

Please stay safe, listen to your local alerts and look after<br />

each other.<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 />

Distribution of the publication is Bi-Monthly<br />

and is circulated via a database of interested<br />

parties, including business, subscribers,<br />

advertisers, volunteer emergency<br />

organistations, and council libraries. A<br />

print and digital magazine is distributed to a<br />

targeted database in each 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.<br />

The views and opinions expressed are<br />

not necessarily those of Boothbook<br />

Media and its employees. The content of<br />

any advertising or promotional material<br />

contained within the Australian Emergency<br />

Services Magazine is not necessarily an<br />

endorsement by Boothbook Media.<br />

Published by Boothbook Media<br />

ABN:72 605 987 031<br />




We are always looking for new<br />

and relevant content that<br />

our readers will enjoy. If you<br />

would like to be featured in<br />

the magazine there are many<br />

options. You may have a story<br />

you would like to share, or<br />

perhaps be featured in our “In<br />

the Spotlight” regular column.<br />

Please submit all articles or<br />

expressions of interest to the<br />

Editor for consideration at:<br />

press@ausemergencyservices.<br />

com.au<br />

Articles should be no more than<br />

1000 words and be relevant<br />

to the content within the<br />

Australian Emergency Services<br />

Magazine.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 4


PM<br />





WITH THE<br />



MEDAL<br />

Australia’s brave fire, police,<br />

ambulance and emergency services<br />

volunteers and workers, along with<br />

Defence Force personnel and reservists<br />

and overseas personnel, will be eligible<br />

to receive a medal in recognition of<br />

their service and sacrifice during the<br />

current bushfire season.<br />

The National Emergency Medal will<br />

be awarded to eligible emergency<br />

responders who have given sustained<br />

or significant service during the 2019-<br />

20 bushfires.<br />

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said<br />

while his priority was to help people<br />

and communities rebuild and recover<br />

from the bushfire disaster, it was also<br />

important that recognition was given.<br />

“Today as we reflect on what makes<br />

our country the best place in the world,<br />

we also honour those Australians<br />

who have battled this devastating<br />

fire season, many of whom will be<br />

on fire grounds today protecting our<br />

communities from danger,” the Prime<br />

Minister said.<br />

“The response to the bushfire<br />

situation has been unprecedented<br />

with thousands of volunteer and paid<br />

responders working around the clock,<br />

day and night, week after week to<br />

protect property and save lives.<br />

“Their courage has been extraordinary,<br />

and it’s a spirit which we must honour<br />

and celebrate this Australia Day<br />

and one which we will now formally<br />

recognise through the National<br />

Emergency Medal.<br />

“We will continue to do whatever<br />

it takes to support fire affected<br />

communities right across Australia to<br />

help them rebuild, recover and become<br />

even stronger.”<br />

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister<br />

and Cabinet Ben Morton said while<br />

the detailed criteria for the National<br />

Emergency Medal will be determined in<br />

the coming months after consultation<br />

once the current crisis has passed, it<br />

is important that we acknowledge the<br />

extraordinary efforts and the sacrifice<br />

of our emergency services volunteers<br />

and personnel.<br />

“It is fitting we honour our emergency<br />

service personnel and volunteers for<br />

their selflessness, bravery, courage and<br />

sacrifice - Australia thanks you for your<br />

service,” Mr Morton said.<br />

The Governor-General, His Excellency<br />

General the Honourable David<br />

Hurley AC DSC (Retd), agreed to a<br />

recommendation from the Morrison<br />

Government that the 2019-20<br />

bushfires be declared a nationally<br />

significant emergency for the purposes<br />

of the Medal.<br />

The National Emergency Medal<br />

recognises service in response to a<br />

nationally‐significant emergency. Events<br />

must be declared by the Governor-<br />

General under the National Emergency<br />

Medal Regulations 2011, including<br />

specific criteria for the award.<br />

At the conclusion of the ongoing<br />

response to the bushfires, the National<br />

Emergency Medal Committee will<br />

provide further advice, as required<br />

under the Regulations, to enable the<br />

formal declaration of the Medal for<br />

the 2019-20 bushfires including the<br />

specific criteria for eligibility.<br />

The National Emergency Medal was<br />

established in 2011. More than<br />

15,000 medals have been awarded<br />

to responders and volunteers to the<br />

2009 Victoria bushfires that included<br />

Black Saturday and the Queensland<br />

floods that occurred over December to<br />

January 2010-2011, including Cyclone<br />

Yasi.<br />

5<br />



During Victoria’s ongoing bushfire<br />

emergency, there has been an<br />

incredible effort by so many people in<br />

so many roles that work hard to keep<br />

our communities safe. We all work as<br />

one in the emergency services sector<br />

and we all have a critical role to play.<br />

ESTA manages call-taking and dispatch<br />

for police, fire, ambulance and VICSES<br />

for Victoria and, during an emergency<br />

such as the recent bushfires, it is a<br />

joint effort with all services playing<br />

a vital part. ESTA’s role is to provide<br />

the critical link between the Victorian<br />

community and the emergency<br />

services.<br />

Our people have worked together<br />

with the rest of the state’s emergency<br />

services in many ways, including<br />

being the first point of call for the<br />

community, providing situational<br />

and safety information to emergency<br />

services and getting units to the<br />

scene via our dispatchers. Between<br />

21 November 2019 and 19 January<br />

ESTA received 431,330 calls compared<br />

with 394,389 in the same period over<br />

2018-19.<br />

During the bushfire emergency, ESTA<br />

has had an Emergency Management<br />

Liaison Officer (EMLO) at the<br />

State Control Centre, who acts as<br />

the intelligence link between our<br />

emergency communication centres<br />

and the state. The EMLO allows for<br />

early identification and intelligence of<br />

potential major incidents and provides<br />

real-time feedback to the state about<br />





what is happening with the units on<br />

the ground and on the emergency<br />

communication floor. With ESTA<br />

providing call-taking and dispatch for<br />

all service lines, the EMLO is able to<br />

have a multi-agency perspective and<br />

inform the big picture.<br />

There have been many dedicated<br />

people at ESTA and across the whole<br />

emergency services sector that<br />

have been working hard to deliver<br />

consistent services to Victorians<br />

during the bushfires.<br />

As this unprecedented bushfire<br />

season continues to affect the state<br />

and the country, I have been humbled<br />

by the camaraderie among the sector<br />

and the community, with so many<br />

people seeking different ways they can<br />

support one another, the community,<br />

animals, emergency services<br />

colleagues and first responders.<br />

By Executive Director Operations,<br />

Patrick Berry<br />

This has been a very challenging time<br />

for Australians and our thoughts are<br />

with the families of those who have<br />

lost their lives and everyone else<br />

affected by these bushfires.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 6






The Resilient Australia Awards<br />

celebrate initiatives that build<br />

whole of community resilience to<br />

disasters and emergencies around<br />

Australia, as well as images capturing<br />

resilience in action. The awards<br />

recognise collaboration and innovative<br />

thinking across all sectors.<br />

Now in its 21st year, the awards<br />

recognise outstanding contributions<br />

in each state and territory in six<br />

categories: community, business, local<br />

government, government, school and<br />

photography. The program recognises<br />

a wide range of initiatives; with past<br />

projects centred on risk assessment<br />

and mitigation; education, training<br />

and research; and community<br />

engagement, as well as response and<br />

recovery.<br />

The Resilient Australia Awards is a<br />

nation-wide program to recognise and<br />

promote initiatives that strengthen<br />

community disaster resilience. Since<br />

2000, the awards have showcased<br />

innovation and exemplary practice<br />

across Australia; celebrating<br />

achievements that might otherwise go<br />

unseen, and inspiring others to build<br />

greater disaster resilience in their own<br />

communities.<br />

Entries in the <strong>2020</strong> awards must<br />

relate to projects or initiatives<br />

commenced after 1 January 2018 or<br />

demonstrate significant outcomes or<br />

enhancements since 1 January 2018.<br />

The Resilient Australia Awards is<br />

proudly sponsored by the Australian<br />

Government in partnership with the<br />

states and territories and managed<br />

by the Australian Institute for Disaster<br />

Resilience (AIDR).<br />

Further information on the<br />

program structure and submission<br />

requirements are contained in the<br />

guidelines. www.aidr.com.au<br />

The Resilient Australia Awards Is a<br />

two-tiered program. Submissions are<br />

judged in the state or territory they<br />

are submitted from, with winners from<br />

each state and territory considered for<br />

national awards.<br />



Business Award<br />

Open to businesses and the private<br />

sector including, tertiary colleges and<br />

universities.<br />

Community Award<br />

Open to communities, community<br />

based or focussed organisations, and<br />

non-government organisations.<br />

Government Award<br />

Open to state and federal government<br />

agencies<br />

Local Government Award<br />

Open to local governments and local<br />

government associations.<br />

Photography Award<br />

Open to individuals and groups.<br />

Submissions will not be accepted<br />

without the permission of the<br />

copyright holder.<br />

School Award<br />

Open to all public and private preschool,<br />

primary and secondary<br />

schools only.<br />

School-related projects managed by<br />

businesses and the private sector<br />

should be entered into the business<br />

award category.<br />

School-related projects managed by<br />

community groups should be entered<br />

into the community award category.<br />

School-related projects managed by<br />

governments should be entered into<br />

the government or local government<br />

award category.<br />

7<br />



VFBV State Championships are<br />

one of CFA’s proudest and longest<br />

traditions. They have been running for<br />

almost 150 years with the first State<br />

Championship held in Melbourne<br />

in 1874. State Championships have<br />

continued every year since 1873. The<br />

event goes on regardless of weather<br />

conditions or natural disasters. The<br />

only cancellations being due to WWI<br />

and WWII.<br />

In the 1950s, the Rural State<br />

Championships were developed<br />

to reflect the unique skills of rural<br />

brigades.<br />

The competitions started out as<br />

‘Demonstrations’ with the introduction<br />

of hose reels into the fire service in the<br />

mid 1800s. This was to assist in getting<br />

hose and other necessary equipment<br />

to the scene of a fire faster.<br />

Brigades soon find that competing<br />

with other brigades improved their<br />

training and efficiency. The State<br />

Championship became the peak of the<br />

season’s competitions conducted by<br />

districts and associations across the<br />

state.<br />

This year CFA-VFBV Firefighter State<br />

Championships will feature two<br />

women-only Marshall events in<br />

Mooroopna next month for the first<br />

time in the State Championship’s 147<br />

year history.<br />





The Marshall event is a traditional<br />

event first introduced into urban<br />

championships in the 1890’s by a<br />

former Chief Officer TS Marshall. The<br />

event was designed to assist in the<br />

training of volunteers in the coupling<br />

and uncoupling of hoses, setting<br />

hydrants and fixing branches without<br />

using any water in the quickest time<br />

possible.<br />

The Championships will be held in<br />

Mooroopna on 28 and 29 March,<br />

<strong>2020</strong>, combining the Urban Seniors,<br />

Rural Seniors and Rural Juniors<br />

separately across the two-day event.<br />

Deputy Chief Officer Stephanie<br />

Rotarangi encouraged female<br />

volunteer members to get involved in<br />

this year’s two women-only Marshall<br />

events.<br />

“The landmark introduction of the<br />

women-only events is a welcome<br />

addition to the Championships this<br />

year,” Dr Rotarangi said.<br />

“These events will give CFA’s female<br />

volunteers an opportunity to showcase<br />

their operational and teamwork skills,<br />

particularly in the two-competitor<br />

Marshall event.”<br />

Acting Executive Director for<br />

<strong>Vol</strong>unteers and Capability, Deputy<br />

Chief Officer Peter O’Keefe said the<br />

introduction of the women-only event<br />

is a great way to promote the skills and<br />

interests of the talented females within<br />

the CFA.<br />

“It’s a fantastic way to encourage all<br />

females within the sport to participate,<br />

while also providing opportunities for<br />

them to succeed in their own events,”<br />

Mr O’Keefe said.<br />

“The Championships is a good way of<br />

having fun and being involved within<br />

the Brigade while also enjoying some<br />

friendly competition among likeminded<br />

CFA members.”<br />

Female competitors have the option<br />

to either participate in the onecompetitor<br />

Marshall event or pair up<br />

with a fellow team mate in the twocompetitor<br />

Marshall event.<br />

Several thousand people from across<br />

the state are expected to attend with<br />

lots of activities to keep the whole<br />

family entertained.<br />

CFA people not competing are<br />

also encouraged to come along,<br />

with the event set to provide many<br />

opportunities to engage on training,<br />

health and wellbeing, community<br />

safety and the latest thinking on<br />

community services.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 8

AUSTRALIAN EMERGENCY LAW with Dr Michael Eburn<br />










ROYAL<br />


January 16, <strong>2020</strong><br />

PHD<br />

Barrister<br />

Leading expert in Law<br />

relating to Emergency<br />

Management & Emergency<br />

Services<br />

Follow Michael Eburn<br />

Facebook- facebook.com/<br />

EburnM/<br />

Twitter - @EburnM<br />

For his latest articles on<br />

Emergency Law go to:<br />

www.emergencylaw.wordpress.com<br />

I have previously written on calls for<br />

an inquiry following the current fire<br />

emergency – see Next comes the<br />

inevitable inquiry (January 7, <strong>2020</strong>). The<br />

Prime Minister continues to float the<br />

idea of a Royal Commission and others<br />

are now publicly questioning the value<br />

of yet another inquiry:<br />

Kevin Tolhurst, ‘We have already had<br />

countless bushfire inquiries. What<br />

good will it do to have another?’<br />

The Conversation (16 January <strong>2020</strong>)<br />

(republished on ABC News (Online) (16<br />

January <strong>2020</strong>);<br />

‘Firefighters are urging Scott Morrison<br />

to rethink federal royal commission<br />

into bushfires’ SBS (Online) (15 January<br />

<strong>2020</strong>); and see also<br />

Michael Eburn and Stephen Dovers<br />

‘What sort of inquiry should come after<br />

these fires?‘ Pearls and Irritations (7<br />

January <strong>2020</strong>).<br />

For commentary on the value of a Royal<br />

Commission see Scott Prasser, ‘How<br />

Royal Commissions can both help and<br />

hinder’ Australian Financial Review (14<br />

January <strong>2020</strong>).<br />

I again join in these calls to reconsider<br />

the value of a Royal Commission.<br />

In research that I did with my colleague<br />

Prof. Stephen Dovers we looked into<br />

why firefighters reported concerns<br />

about potential liability for their<br />

action. We discovered that it was not<br />

liability (as a lawyer would use the<br />

term) that was the problem, it was<br />

the legal process that was the issue<br />

(‘Australian wildfire litigation’ (2012)<br />

21(5) International Journal of Wildland<br />

Fire 488-497). The legal process is<br />

often, if not always, adopted in modern<br />

Royal Commissions so it can further<br />

traumatise those that have been<br />

involved in the fires.<br />

In our research and published papers<br />

we have argued that there needs<br />

to be a better way to learn lessons<br />

without sacrificing the good will of<br />

those involved in the emergency. An<br />

inquiry, like litigation, is necessarily<br />

retrospective rather than a tool to help<br />

communities recover from the event<br />

(see Eburn, M., ‘Litigation for failure to<br />

warn of natural hazards and community<br />

resilience‘ (2008) 23(2) Australian<br />

Journal of Emergency Management<br />

9-13.<br />

In our CRC report (Learning for<br />

Emergency Services: Looking for a new<br />

approach (20<strong>17</strong>)) we said:<br />

After a significant hazard event there<br />

are pressures to call an independent<br />

inquiry. Hopefully the driving force is a<br />

desire to identify what happened and<br />

identify lessons that may better inform<br />

future practice, but the reality is that<br />

there are multiple ‘other’ considerations<br />

that influence the decision to establish<br />

an inquiry. Royal Commissions and<br />

coronial inquiries have a tendency<br />

to fall back on tried and true legal

ehaviour with lawyers seeking to<br />

protect their client’s interests; witnesses<br />

are required to answer questions rather<br />

than tell their story; fact finding and<br />

recommendations are limited by the<br />

particularities of the event, the terms of<br />

reference or the governing legislation.<br />

Each inquiry makes recommendations<br />

to avoid the last event, but the next<br />

event will not be the same as the last<br />

event – ‘a tendency … to spend the<br />

peace time studying how to fight the<br />

last war’.<br />

Recommendations are necessarily<br />

counterfactuals, they are predictions<br />

that some other approach or some<br />

reform will work better but the<br />

future possibility is being judged<br />

against a past, known outcome.<br />

What implementation of the<br />

recommendations will actually achieve<br />

is unknown until the next event and<br />

sometimes diligent application of one<br />

inquiry’s recommendations will produce<br />

a result that is subject to a contraryrecommendation<br />

after the next event.<br />

Identifying areas of improvement and<br />

making recommendations may not<br />

help. Recommendations may not be<br />

implemented, may be impracticable<br />

or may conflict with other social and<br />

policy concerns. The agency required<br />

to implement them may reject the<br />

inquiry’s balance or not accept the<br />

quality of the evidence that the inquiry<br />

relies upon.<br />

Royal Commissions are great when you<br />

want to get information from people<br />

who do not want to share (corrupt<br />

police, bankers or abusive aged care<br />

providers). A Royal Commission is not<br />

the best way to learn lessons from an<br />

event such as this. The government<br />

should avoid the temptation to call<br />

a Royal Commission in order to be<br />

seen to be doing ‘something’. There<br />

has been extensive research and<br />

action on bushfire management, the<br />

development of community resilience,<br />

fire warnings and the like. The<br />

Commonwealth has been part of that<br />

research through the Bushfire and<br />

Natural Hazards CRC and before that<br />

the Bushfire CRC. The Commonwealth<br />

has developed and been implementing<br />

policy statements such as the National<br />

Strategy for Disaster Resilience<br />

(2011) and the National Disaster Risk<br />

Reduction Framework (2018).<br />

The fact that these fires have occurred<br />

does not mean that there has been any<br />

failure in planning for or responding to<br />

the fires (though it may imply a failure<br />

in steps to prevent or mitigate the risk<br />

of fire). A response plan (such as the<br />

various state emergency management<br />

plans and the Commonwealth’s disaster<br />

plan – COMDISPLAN) are activated<br />

when there is a disaster. The fact that<br />

the disaster occurs does not mean the<br />

plan failed. Communities are resilient<br />

to fire when they are able to survive<br />

and recover after the fire, the fact<br />

that the fire occurs or that property<br />

or lives are lost does not meant<br />

that work to enhance resilience has<br />

failed. As Tolhurst says ’Another royal<br />

commission will only reiterate what we<br />

have known for decades’.<br />

This article originally appeared on the<br />

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

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

with the permission of the author.<br />

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

based on the law at the time it was written. The<br />

blog, or this article, is not legal advice and cannot be<br />

relied upon to determine any person’s legal position.<br />

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

event depends on all the circumstances.<br />

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

with respect to any event that has happened, or<br />

some action that is proposed, you must consult<br />

a lawyer for advice based on the particular<br />

circumstances. Trade unions, professional<br />

indemnity insurers and community legal centres can<br />

all be a source for initial legal advice.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 10

11<br />


Rather than a long-winded background story<br />

on why I chose to spend time photographing<br />

what goes on behind the scenes with some of<br />

our emergency services, as a photojournalist<br />

my preference is to give the visual story. An<br />

often candid look at what goes on, and more<br />

importantly to show the humanity within the<br />

services.<br />

As a photographer the greatest challenge is<br />

trying to tell that story with limited photos,<br />

which is often the case when writing an article<br />

for a newspaper or magazine. Out of the<br />

thousands of photos I’ve taken how do I narrow<br />

it down?<br />


THE LENS<br />

by Photojournalist - Blair Horgan<br />

A big thank you to all those people I’ve met<br />

over the years for giving me the opportunity<br />

to photograph these moments. I’ve done my<br />

best to keep out of the way when on a call<br />

out with the Tasmania Fire Service, trying not<br />

to get under people’s feet or in the way when<br />

back on station, trying not to be too invasive.<br />

Being allowed to spend time with members of<br />

Tasmanian State Emergency Service has meant<br />

a lot to me, as well as being able to tell their<br />

story. A special thank you to Shayne Andrews<br />

at the TFS for putting up with me and giving me<br />

plenty of chances to always get that better shot.<br />

I first started at Burnie Fire Brigade in 2016. I<br />

managed to pick up the nickname, the black<br />

cloud. Somehow, I’d be on station ready to<br />

get some action photos and nothing would<br />

happen. I’d leave and of course guess what<br />

would happen? However it did give me a<br />

chance to see what goes on behind the scenes,<br />

the normal everyday stuff. A chance for that<br />

candid photo and I got plenty of those.<br />

Every single person I’ve met over the years<br />

of taking photographs within the emergency<br />

services have gone our of their way to make me<br />

feel welcome. Be it the Tasmania Fire Service,<br />

career staff or volunteers, to all the different<br />

brigades, SES people and the different units<br />

(Burnie and Wynyard) and to the amazing<br />

people at IMU regional headquarters, thank<br />

you so much. What a privilege it is to be a part<br />

of the incredible work you all do.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 12


Over the last few months we have watched the devastation of the bushfire season via<br />

television news and social media. Our newsfeed on both Facebook and Instagram were<br />

full of terrifying images of houses destroyed, families left homeless, burnt wildlife and<br />

exhausted firefighters and emergency services. It was through these images and stories<br />

that we all shared the fear, loss and heartache with those who suffered through it all.<br />

Here are just a couple of stories that really touched us at <strong>AESM</strong>.<br />



Fires had been raging up and down<br />

the South Coast for close to a<br />

month. People were evacuated<br />

from Bawley Point and Tabourie Lake.<br />

Milton was hit. Michael did food and<br />

supply runs in his boat. We watched as<br />

the sky went red and black days before<br />

Christmas.<br />

More fires broke out on New Years<br />

Eve. I watched, my mouth agape, as<br />

two angry plumes from the fires north<br />

and south of us joined together over<br />

Mollymook Beach.<br />

And then, the power went out. Mobile<br />

reception became spotty. Internet was<br />

down. Rumours swirled around town<br />

like the ashes that rained down on us.<br />

Embers in our backyards. Homes had<br />

been lost. Whole streets obliterated. A<br />

girlfriend’s panicked text about her dad<br />

being trapped.<br />

I packed my go bag and filled the bath<br />

with water.<br />

Michael cooked bacon and eggs on the<br />

barbecue outside. Hakavai and I read<br />

books on the balcony. We watched as<br />

the fine grey smoke settled in on our<br />

beloved Mollymook Beach.<br />

At a quarter to eight, the evening was<br />

quiet. Not a peaceful and serene quiet,<br />

but an eerie quiet. An apocalyptic quiet.<br />

No one on their balconies drinking<br />

beers. No music blaring from our<br />

neighbours next door, or from the<br />

houses across the street. No revellers<br />

preparing to celebrate the new year.<br />

And it was dark. No power. No lights.<br />

First of all: I’m sorry that I haven’t been<br />

more proactive in this time.<br />

It’s been a tough few weeks for me<br />

emotionally. I’ve had to focus on<br />

not letting my emotions and own<br />

experiences get the better of me.<br />

I’ve tried to not let the panic genie<br />

out of the bottle (because once that<br />

genie’s out, you’ve got zero chance of<br />

squashing it back in).<br />

And, I’m exhausted. I feel like I’ve done<br />

10 marathons. And we can’t relax<br />

because it’s only the start of summer,<br />

and it’s not over yet. So just like in a<br />

marathon, I’ve realised I have to pace<br />

myself.<br />

A lot of things have been tough. Being<br />

8 months pregnant with a toddler, I’ve<br />

felt as useful as tits on a bull. I’ve had<br />

recurring nightmares about running<br />

through flames with my son in my<br />

arms. It’s been difficult to sleep, eat or<br />

think and all I’ve really wanted to do is<br />

tap out, put my head in the sand and<br />

pretend that nothing is going on.<br />

I thought about leaving our small town<br />

of Ulladulla multiple times. Why didn’t<br />

I? People were stuck in their cars for<br />

hours. I saw terrifying footage of 30<br />

metre high flames on the side of the<br />

13<br />


highway at Sussex Inlet (a town just<br />

north of us and blocking the way out).<br />

And travelling south was like travelling<br />

into the jaws of the dragon.<br />

When I found out friends were planning<br />

on defending their property I felt like<br />

shaking them. “You have no idea!!!” I<br />

wanted to scream. You have no idea<br />

that a fire sounds like a thousand road<br />

trains coming towards you. You have<br />

no idea how hot it feels, and that you<br />

will watch your skin bubble before your<br />

very eyes. You have no idea that the<br />

smoke will feel like it’s invading every<br />

single one of your pores. And you have<br />

no idea that in those last few seconds<br />

where it’s almost upon you that you will<br />

KNOW that you are about to die.<br />

At the same time, I’ve felt like it’s not<br />

my place to flip out when people all<br />

around me have lost everything. I’m<br />

lucky - my family and I are safe and we<br />

haven’t lost anything.<br />

Friends have lost homes, precious<br />

belongings. Lives have been lost.<br />

And once “this” is all over, it won’t<br />

be all over for many of the local<br />

businesses in fire-ravaged towns. A<br />

lot of these places (like Mollymook,<br />

Kangaroo Island, Eden) rely on the<br />

tourist dollar for their very survival. I’ve<br />

been motivated by Tegan Webber’s<br />

#GoWithEmptyEskies campaign and by<br />

the legends at @buyfromthebush.<br />

And so this is what I’m doing. If you<br />

want to buy something (now, or in<br />

the future), check out https://www.<br />

instagram.com/spendwiththem/.<br />

Spend your money with the businesses<br />

in fire affected communities who need<br />

it. They need you. We need you.<br />

This is a way to put money directly<br />

in the pockets of the people and<br />

communities who need it the most,<br />

and need it NOW.<br />

Long after the threat is over and the<br />

choppers stop flying overhead. Long<br />

after summer ends and the wail of<br />

sirens ceases in the streets.<br />

Help them rebuild. Make them feel<br />

heard. Spend with them.<br />

And, if you’re a business in a fireaffected<br />

town, hit us up at https://www.<br />

instagram.com/spendwiththem/ to be<br />

featured.<br />

Much love to all of you, donating,<br />

spending, and doing everything you<br />

can. I’m blown away.<br />

Turia xx<br />

You can follow Turia Pitt on Facebook<br />


You have to die one day.<br />

Those were the words this lovely<br />

but stubborn old lady said to me<br />

when I tried to evacuate her from<br />

an emergency level bushfire.<br />

She was determined not to leave<br />

her home and instantly the feeling<br />

of my heart starting to break came<br />

over me. I knew her home wasn’t<br />

properly prepared to be impacted<br />

by fire.<br />

I pleaded with her and explained<br />

I was a young man that would be<br />

deeply affected if she didnt leave<br />

her home, as I was the only one left<br />

with her at the time and I wasn’t<br />

going to leave her behind.<br />

I finally managed to say the right<br />

words to get her in the car along<br />

with her dog that attempted to<br />

attack me on several occasions<br />

as the fire was coming down the<br />

mountain and up her driveway at<br />

this stage.<br />

I drove her safely through the fire in<br />

her little Rav 4 and then went back<br />

to help save her home.<br />

Couple of days later we did a<br />

welfare check on her and she told<br />

me that I reminded her of her son<br />

Matthew and she was extremely<br />

grateful that someone cared<br />

enough about her to put their life<br />

at risk for her.<br />

She also told me she had lost<br />

all hope and was too terrified to<br />

leave her home behind and if it<br />

wasnt for my stubbornness like<br />

her son Matthew she would of<br />

stayed, which in many ways could<br />

of ended badly as she wasn’t very<br />

mobile.<br />

The message I’m trying to get<br />

across as the weather becomes<br />

more favourable is that material<br />

possessions dont mean anything<br />

at the end of the day when it can<br />

cost your life and your animals<br />

life. Definitely dont leave it too<br />

late and get complacent.<br />

The Austraian bush has no mercy.<br />

Thanks to @orange_yellow_and_<br />

red for sharing this story about<br />

Matthew Angus. Matthew is<br />

owner of Angus Plumbing Services<br />

and is a member of the NSW Rural<br />

Fire Service.





Journalist, author, broadcaster<br />

Queensland University of Technology<br />

15<br />


After reporting on the deadly 2011 Queensland flash<br />

flood disaster, I spent a year documenting accounts of<br />

heroic rescues, tragic deaths and extraordinary survival.<br />

Five years later, I returned for a follow-up study. I found some<br />

survivors had recovered, but many were far worse off.<br />

This research suggests there is a long road ahead for<br />

survivors of the current bushfire crisis. However, there are<br />

key lessons to be learned.<br />


At the time of the 2011 Queensland flood crisis, the<br />

Australian Defence Force arrived to help. Community spirit<br />

was high. Australia and the world donated very generously.<br />

But after the first few weeks, initial assistance gave way to<br />

often intractable difficulties with housing, insurance claims,<br />

job losses and chronic physical and mental health conditions.<br />

Blanket media coverage of the crisis soon dwindled. And for<br />

many people, there simply was no return to “normal” life.<br />


Five years after the event, many still struggled. The journey<br />

was far longer and more difficult for people who:<br />

• lost family members during or after the disaster<br />

• were traumatised by a near-death experience<br />

• could no longer work in their old job<br />

• had significant health problems<br />

• had insurance claims that were slow, difficult or rejected.<br />

Those people who were most able to recover were people<br />

who:<br />

• lost possessions but who were not traumatised by the<br />

disaster<br />

• remained healthy and had insurance with companies<br />

that promptly paid their claims<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 16

• were able to resume work<br />

• were able to repair or replace their<br />

homes and return to a relatively<br />

normal life within a few months to<br />

a year.<br />

After five years, some people realised<br />

they would never recover. Some said<br />

they would have preferred to die than<br />

endure the five years post-flood.<br />

Several survivors spoke of the “near<br />

miss” they had with death. For some, it<br />

was an incentive to live every day with<br />

renewed gusto. For others, the near<br />

miss reinforced the fragility of life and<br />

left them feeling more vulnerable.<br />



Thirty-three of the rescuers and<br />

survivors in the disaster experienced a<br />

near-death experience. Five years on,<br />

some of them had still not attended any<br />

counselling and reported memories of<br />

near-death experiences playing out in<br />

their minds in an endless video-loop.<br />

Some became hermits, afraid to leave<br />

home.<br />

One of the rescuers told me it took<br />

five years to even acknowledge he had<br />

risked his life.<br />

One mother whose children were at<br />

risk said:<br />

“Life as you know it changed on that<br />

day. You know that one second your life<br />

is normal and then how quickly things<br />

can change. I scan all the time. I scan<br />

rooms for the exit. I scan terrain in case<br />

something happens […] which is the<br />

quickest way to escape?”<br />


Two thirds of the people interviewed<br />

still had ongoing traumatic memories<br />

five years after the disaster – including<br />

seeing or hearing the sounds of the<br />

disaster, smelling the fetid aromas<br />

associated with floods or feeling<br />

anxious at the sound of helicopters.<br />

For some, the trauma triggers occurred<br />

only in the flood zone, while for others<br />

it could be anywhere, whcih meant<br />

moving away offered no respite.<br />

In the small town of Grantham,<br />

where 13 people died, witnesses<br />

told an inquiry into the disaster that<br />

counsellors changed from week to<br />

week (meaning survivors had to retell<br />

their stories again to a new counsellor).<br />

The service then stopped because<br />

townspeople didn’t want to see them.<br />


Many people no longer felt safe at<br />

home. People who had to rebuild as<br />

property values fell and insurance<br />

premiums skyrocketed – some up to<br />

A$34,000/year – could not afford to<br />

insure their house. They feared a total<br />

loss of their homes next time.<br />

Some people who never returned<br />

to affected towns fared better<br />

psychologically than those who did go<br />

back.<br />

Some people returned initially, rebuilt,<br />

but then sold up and left again. Some<br />

told me they would not be alive unless<br />

they got out when they did.<br />

Whole communities all but disappeared<br />

as almost the entire population left<br />

town.<br />



After a natural disaster, mortgages still<br />

need to be paid, even on houses that<br />

are uninhabitable. Accommodation<br />

costs mount. The risk of homelessness<br />

and bankruptcy increases and<br />

relationships can be put under<br />

enormous stress.<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<strong>17</strong><br />


Australian Army personnel assisted citizens in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 Queensland floods<br />

Property values in the towns and<br />

districts affected by the 2011 floods fell<br />

dramatically and immediately, meaning<br />

some people couldn’t sell and move<br />

away.<br />

Several survivors were unable to<br />

return to their old jobs because their<br />

workplace had been destroyed or<br />

because it was too traumatic.<br />

One who stayed to rebuild his business<br />

experienced another disaster two<br />

years later and lost his service station<br />

a second time. He rebuilt again only<br />

to have his business destroyed a third<br />

time the following year.<br />

People who are injured at work in<br />

Queensland are eligible to claim on<br />

WorkCover, a government funded<br />

program that assists workers to recover<br />

and return to work. People injured in<br />

disasters, however are not eligible for<br />

the same type of assistance.<br />

Many people relied on charities for<br />

food, clothes and shelter for months to<br />

years after the flood. Some refused or<br />

resisted charitable help or government<br />

help.<br />

Some older people reported becoming<br />

dependent on their adult children for<br />

the first time.<br />


The research suggests several possible<br />

ways to help natural disaster survivors<br />

including, but not limited to:<br />

• better access to publicly funded<br />

psychological care beyond the<br />

current 10 visits allowable under<br />

the current Medicare system,<br />

especially for people who have lost<br />

family or their home or business<br />

• free and well coordinated<br />

government-funded counselling in<br />

disaster zones<br />

• income support and emergency<br />

housing for people who have lost<br />

homes<br />

• government-funded funerals for<br />

those who die in a natural disaster<br />

• provision of short-term retraining<br />

for those who cannot return to<br />

their old jobs<br />

• the creation of a “DisasterCover”<br />

system to support volunteer<br />

rescuers or firefighters with<br />

access to counselling, income<br />

support and job security – in the<br />

same way that WorkCover might<br />

support professional firefighters.<br />

A legislated scheme would mean<br />

survivors are not at the whim of<br />

ad hoc emergency government<br />

funding or relying on public<br />

appeals<br />

• such a scheme could cover<br />

emergency medical, rehabilitation<br />

and wage costs and then claim<br />

them back, where possible, from<br />

the claimant’s private medical and<br />

income protection insurance<br />

• improved land planning around<br />

where it is safe to build.<br />

All of this sounds expensive. But the<br />

cost of not learning these lessons may<br />

be greater in the long run.<br />

This article was first published in “The<br />

Conversation”<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 />

@<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 18






WORDS:<br />

Associate Professor Erin Cotter-Smith<br />

19<br />


As the smoke clears, the physical<br />

damage from these bushfires<br />

will be immediately apparent.<br />

What will be less clear is how the fires<br />

have impacted the well-being of the<br />

thousands of Australian volunteers<br />

who have responded to devastated<br />

communities.<br />

<strong>Vol</strong>unteers from emergency services<br />

and non-emergency services alike are<br />

pivotal to mounting an effective and<br />

sustainable response to a disaster<br />

on a scale such as this – they provide<br />

“the glue” that’s needed to support<br />

response capacity and empower<br />

communities in relief and recovery.<br />

The role of volunteers<br />

Since New Years Eve, thousands of<br />

volunteers have been deployed into<br />

disaster-affected communities across<br />

Australia. Some do an incredible<br />

job fighting the fires, repairing the<br />

damage, or distributing food, water<br />

and other essential supplies. Others<br />

play important roles in caring for the<br />

well-being of people impacted by the<br />

fires by providing immediate relief<br />

and psychological first aid.<br />

No matter the type of role,<br />

volunteering during a disaster can<br />

take a toll.<br />

“Put on your own oxygen mask first,<br />

before helping others...”<br />

The role of volunteers in emergency<br />

and disaster response is becoming<br />

increasingly complex. <strong>Vol</strong>unteers<br />

from many organisations are<br />

exposed to trauma, loss, devastation,<br />

injury and even death. They may find<br />

themselves comforting colleagues,<br />

friends, and survivors in the initial<br />

phases of shock and grief, or even<br />

trying to save communities in which<br />

they live and work.<br />

They work long hours in challenging<br />

environments, often without respite<br />

and with very little opportunity for<br />

rest. They often end up exhausted<br />

and emotionally drained.<br />

They put aside their own needs for<br />

the greater good of the community,<br />

and at the end of the day, they often<br />

feel like their concerns or needs are<br />

not as important as the needs of<br />

those they “are meant to be helping”.<br />

And as members of affected<br />

communities, many volunteers often<br />

work close to home and experience<br />

the same losses and grief within their<br />

own families and social networks<br />

as the communities they are meant<br />

to be supporting. Basic training or<br />

being part of a psychological first<br />

aid response team is not enough to<br />

prepare volunteers for these types of<br />

complex emotional experiences.<br />

So what can we do to help?<br />

There are things that all volunteer<br />

reliant-organisations can do to<br />

help support well-being. Some<br />

simple measures include:<br />

• Provide an accessible<br />

range of well-being support<br />

services that both encourage<br />

volunteers to reach out when<br />

they need help, but also<br />

reach in to those who may be<br />

struggling<br />

• Create an organisational<br />

culture that normalises<br />

conversations around wellbeing<br />

and mental health,<br />

where people can talk openly<br />

and share problems<br />

• Arrange regular informal<br />

“drop ins” where volunteers<br />

can get together to talk about<br />

how they are going and how<br />

their specific deployments<br />

went (cross-organisational<br />

“drop ins” are particularly<br />

encouraged to promote<br />

broader discussions and<br />

sharing across different<br />

volunteer groups)<br />

• Organisations can develop<br />

visible mechanisms for<br />

showing appreciation of<br />

volunteers which also allow<br />

volunteers to recognise<br />

colleagues who have<br />

demonstrated exemplar<br />

behaviours during an<br />

emergency or disaster<br />

It is also really important for<br />

volunteers to be able to recognise<br />

when they are struggling or feeling<br />

burnt out. While “duty calls” loudly<br />

for most volunteers, there are times<br />

when stepping back can be the most<br />

brave and resilient action to take.<br />

And it’s an action that organisations<br />

need to actively assist volunteers in<br />

making.<br />

The number of back-to-back days<br />

on deployment and sequential<br />

shifts that volunteers undertake<br />

needs active monitoring. We also<br />

need to have processes in place for<br />

the well-meaning volunteers who<br />

have dedicated incredibly generous<br />

periods of their lives to organisations<br />

and their communities, but perhaps<br />

are now best suited to roles other<br />

than emergency deployments.<br />

Back in December, Former Fire<br />

and Rescue NSW commissioner<br />

Greg Mullins warned that volunteer<br />

firefighters were already exhausted.<br />

“Firefighters were full of energy but<br />

as the weeks and months dragged<br />

on they reached a point of having<br />

nothing in the tank”. Former Fire and<br />

Rescue NSW commissioner Greg<br />

Mullins<br />

While organisations need to do<br />

more in to facilitate programs and<br />

resources to support volunteer<br />

well-being, anyone can create<br />

informal well-being support networks.<br />

Whether it’s within our friendship<br />

groups, community groups, sporting<br />

groups, or other networks, there just<br />

needs to be an underlying thread of<br />

commitment to each other’s wellbeing.<br />

As we continue to deal with this<br />

bushfire disaster, ensuring that our<br />

thousands of Australian volunteers<br />

feel supported will make a significant<br />

difference to their well-being. Their<br />

contribution to our communities is<br />

immeasurable and we must never<br />

take them for granted.<br />

And you can always consider<br />

volunteering in your local community<br />

to help support the long recovery<br />

process ahead. Some organisations<br />

are taking spontaneous emergency<br />

volunteer registrations now. Consider<br />

registering your support with your<br />

local State/Territory peak body where<br />

possible.<br />

You can find more information at<br />

<strong>Vol</strong>unteering Australia’s website or by<br />

following the link here:<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 20

Image courtesy of Broulee SLSC




By: Surf Life Saving NSW<br />

At 3am on the morning of 31 December 2019, surf<br />

lifesaver Cheryl McCarthy received a phone call that<br />

began the longest and most complex emergency<br />

callout of her volunteer career.<br />

It also signalled the start of Surf Life Saving NSW’s bushfire<br />

response on the NSW Far South Coast. A response<br />

that would see teams of volunteer surf lifesavers take<br />

responsibility for the lives of over 7,000 people as multiple<br />

surf clubs setup as emergency evacuation centres.<br />

As the Director of Lifesaving for the Far South Coast<br />

Branch, Cheryl McCarthy is used to emergency callouts<br />

becoming more frequent and the incidents she responds<br />

to more unusual. She expects the unexpected and complex<br />

emergencies, like the recent NSW bushfires, are becoming<br />

the ‘new normal’ for her and thousands of volunteer<br />

emergency service personnel like her.<br />

But nothing could have prepared Cheryl and the team for<br />

the speed and ferocity of the bushfire emergency that<br />

engulfed the Far South Coast region on New Year’s Eve<br />

2019 and the scale of the response effort she would be<br />

asked to lead that week.<br />

Since becoming a gazetted emergency service organisation<br />

in 2018, Surf Life Saving NSW volunteer lifesavers have<br />

been tasked to critical incidents in support of other<br />

emergency service organisations such as Police, RFS and<br />

SES. And so it was that on December 31, Surf Life Saving<br />

NSW volunteers on the Far South Coast found themselves<br />

on the frontline when the call came to respond to the<br />

unprecedented bushfire emergency unfolding all around<br />

them.<br />

The 3am phone call Cheryl McCarthy answered was from<br />

the Rural Fire Service requesting Surf Life Saving’s support.<br />

In no time a team of volunteers had opened the Bermagui<br />

surf club as an evacuation centre and contacted Andy<br />

Edmunds to open the Broulee surf club to the north. Up<br />

the road in Batemans Bay, Anthony Bellette received a<br />

similar message from the RFS and mustered his callout<br />

team of 11 lifesavers to open the Batemans Bay surf club<br />

as an evacuation centre as residents in the area began<br />

evacuating to the beach.<br />

People, their cars and their animals began pouring in<br />

and within a few hours, the three surf clubs at Bermagui,<br />

Broulee and Batemans Bay would together be sheltering<br />

more than 7,000 people as bushfires raged out of control<br />

in the area. And it was the volunteer Surf Life Saving<br />

teams, led by Cheryl McCarthy, Anthony Bellette and Andy<br />

Edmunds that would be responsible for their welfare,<br />

providing those in their care with food, water, shelter and

vital medical treatment.<br />

To put the scale of the evacuation in<br />

perspective, the township of Bermagui<br />

normally has a population of 1,500.<br />

But as bushfires approached the<br />

area at an unprecedented speed and<br />

residents and tourists in a 30km radius<br />

of the town were told to evacuate<br />

to the beach, the town’s population<br />

quickly grew to 5,000. These evacuees<br />

descended on the Bermagui surf club<br />

as the designated evacuation centre.<br />

“It kind of snowballed. For a town of<br />

1,500, suddenly having 5,000 people<br />

arrive at the surf club was mindblowing,”<br />

said Cheryl McCarthy.<br />

“We had over 2,000 vehicles at the club<br />

which was insane. Nothing could have<br />

prepared us for the sheer number of<br />

people,” she said.<br />

Cheryl said that compounding the fact<br />

that 5,000 people were arriving at the<br />

club, embers from the nearby bushfires<br />

began falling from the sky and choking<br />

smoke filled the air.<br />

“The smoke was so thick - it was actually<br />

dark outside,” Cheryl said.<br />

“When it was still dark at 9.30am, we<br />

realised the sun wasn’t going to come<br />

up that day,” she said.<br />

“It was a very intense time – very<br />

stressful.<br />

“We got news that a couple of the<br />

people that died in the fires were<br />

Malua Bay - Image credit Alex Coppel<br />

dads and uncles of some of our club’s<br />

Nippers.<br />

“Everyone was understandably very<br />

upset about that and about people who<br />

had lost their homes.<br />

“We had a doctor and nurse at the club<br />

who were treating people for stress and<br />

shock.<br />

“We had two people with suspected<br />

heart attacks that we had to get to<br />

hospital,” she said.<br />

The local medical centre relocated<br />

doctors, nurses and equipment to the<br />

Bermagui surf club who slept there<br />

for 48 hours. They treated nearly 200<br />

people with breathing difficulties,<br />

minor burns and head injuries – mainly<br />

caused by people tripping over in the<br />

dark.<br />

Local businesses donated food, tents<br />

and oxygen cylinders to treat people<br />

with respiratory problems. A local chef<br />

swung into action and prepared what<br />

Cheryl suggests might have been ‘the<br />

best evacuation meal ever eaten’.<br />

Meanwhile, 80km north at Broulee,<br />

volunteer surf lifesaver Andy Edmunds<br />

had been busy managing a similar<br />

situation. He’d been on standby since<br />

3am when he received the call from<br />

Cheryl McCarthy and had opened the<br />

surf club for evacuees.<br />

However, unlike Bermagui, Broulee<br />

came under direct and significant<br />

ember attack with around 1,000 people<br />

sheltering at the surf club.<br />

“It was my biggest day as a Duty Officer.<br />

I was flying by the seat of my pants,”<br />

said Andy Edmunds.<br />

“When the fire hit Broulee and some<br />

of the buildings started going up, we<br />

called Triple Zero but no RFS crews<br />

were available, although there were<br />

some helicopters waterbombing the<br />

town,” Andy said.<br />

Thinking quickly, Andy sent the club’s<br />

all-terrain buggies into the streets.<br />

<strong>Vol</strong>unteer surf lifesavers door-knocked<br />

and used loud hailers to evacuate<br />

residents who either could not walk to<br />

the club or had missed the evacuation<br />

message entirely.<br />

At one stage the Broulee surf club itself<br />

was threatened by the fires and all<br />

1,000 people had to be moved onto the<br />

beach. At the same time, people started<br />

arriving at the club with serious injuries.<br />

“We were treating some fairly major<br />

burns injuries and a family of six people<br />

presented who were all suffering from<br />

severe smoke inhalation. We gave them<br />

all oxygen and called an ambulance but<br />

it took two hours to arrive,” Andy said.<br />

Fortuitously, Surf Life Saving NSW<br />

had positioned volunteer liaison<br />

officers in the NSW Rural Fire Service<br />

Headquarters in Sydney at the<br />

beginning of the bushfire crisis.<br />

“We had no power and no mobile<br />

phone coverage. But we still had<br />

our surf club VHF radios and I was<br />

in contact with our Surf Life Saving<br />

liaison officer at the Rural Fire Service<br />

headquarters in Sydney. They were able<br />

to relay to us what was going on with<br />

the fires,” said Andy Edmunds.<br />

Fortunately for Broulee residents the<br />

weather changed just before a large fire<br />

front reached the town and a change<br />

in wind direction pushed the fires away<br />

from the town.<br />

“The only thing that saved Broulee<br />

was the southerly wind that came up<br />

the coast at the last minute. It was so<br />

strong that it could have stripped paint<br />

off your car.<br />

“We weren’t set up to accommodate<br />

people overnight so the evacuees either<br />

went home or were transported to the<br />

Moruya Showground,” Andy said.<br />

Fortunately, for Cheryl, Andy and<br />

Anthony, the George Bass surfboat<br />

marathon event had been called off,<br />

due to the bushfires. Hundreds of<br />

volunteer lifesavers were stranded<br />

23<br />


Image courtesy of Broulee SLSC<br />

along the South Coast because the<br />

roads were closed. Many of them<br />

made themselves available to assist<br />

with the emergency response and<br />

were themselves seeking shelter at the<br />

surf clubs. Cheryl, Andy and Anthony<br />

all credit the successful outcome and<br />

effectiveness of their bushfire response<br />

to the assistance they received from the<br />

visiting surfboat crews.<br />

“It was a real team effort. We had the<br />

George Bass surfboat crews helping<br />

us triage patients, providing medical<br />

help. They also helped marshal traffic<br />

and assisted with registering people as<br />

safe in the evacuation centre. It was an<br />

amazing job by everyone,” said Cheryl<br />

McCarthy.<br />

Although the southerly change reduced<br />

the immediate threat of the bushfires,<br />

the work of the volunteers wasn’t<br />

yet over. Broulee, Batemans Bay and<br />

Bermagui surf clubs all stayed open the<br />

next day and throughout the following<br />

week as Community Recovery Centres.<br />

With roads closed, electricity cut-off<br />

and all phone services out for more<br />

than seven days along the Far South<br />

Coast, the surf clubs became important<br />

centres for people displaced by the<br />

fires to have a meal, shower, collect<br />

groceries and use the free Wi-Fi that<br />

had been set up.<br />

“Our club became a community hub<br />

– a safe and trusted space for people<br />

to come and have a shower and a<br />

feed and to just talk about what had<br />

happened to them,” said Club Captain<br />

Anthony Bellette. Members of the<br />

public contacted Surf Life Saving in the<br />

weeks following to praise Anthony and<br />

his team for their response during and<br />

after the bushfires.<br />

Demonstrating their growing<br />

importance as community hubs,<br />

Batemans Bay, Broulee and Bermagui<br />

surf clubs were established as<br />

distribution centres for donated items<br />

of food, water, clothing and other<br />

essentials as surf clubs and the wider<br />

community across NSW rallied to<br />

provide support and transport donated<br />

goods to the Far South Coast.<br />

Reflecting on the events over New<br />

Year’s, volunteer surf lifesaver Cheryl<br />

McCarthy says that the emergency<br />

was “the first, and hopefully the last”,<br />

bushfire she’s ever had to deal with.<br />

It’s clear, however, that the role of<br />

surf clubs and volunteers may have<br />

changed forever. Cheryl, Andy Edmunds<br />

and Anthony Bellette’s response to<br />

the bushfires on the Far South Coast<br />

demonstrate how the role of surf<br />

lifesavers has evolved and how the<br />

impact volunteers can have on their<br />

communities now extends well beyond<br />

just the beach.<br />

Rare and Beautiful, Gemstones<br />

and Crystals, Exhibition and Sales<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

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www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 24

Lets Talk Mental<br />

Health<br />

with Associate Professor<br />

Erin Cotter-Smith<br />


25<br />


Is it time to re-think the popular<br />

well-being framework that asks<br />

people to “reach out” when<br />

they are struggling?<br />

The tragic number of suicides<br />

among emergency services<br />

personnel suggest that the current<br />

framework is failing those who<br />

need it most. In Australia, that<br />

framework is largely based on a<br />

resiliency model, which focuses on<br />

people reaching out and seeking<br />

help.<br />

We often talk about the importance<br />

of resilience, and with good reason.<br />

Our resilience enables us to protect<br />

ourselves against experiences that<br />

could be overwhelming and helps<br />

us to maintain balance in our lives<br />

during difficult or stressful periods.<br />

But resilience as a concept<br />

isn’t perfect. It’s promotion can<br />

sometimes be an individualistic<br />

attempt to mitigate bigger, more<br />

systemic problems. It is often a<br />

term that supports the status quo,<br />

leaving traumatised individuals<br />

feeling personally responsible.<br />

So where did this concept of<br />

resilience come from? Psychologists<br />

reflecting on the observation<br />

that some children from tough<br />

backgrounds appeared to succumb<br />

to harmful influences while<br />

others seemed to thrive led to<br />

the terminology of “invulnerable”<br />

children, but eventually evolved to<br />

the term “resilient”. (1)<br />

“You’re so resilient” became an<br />

increasingly common compliment,<br />

a testament of strength and<br />

survival. The worrying outcome is<br />

that somewhere along the way,<br />

emergency service personnel<br />

struggling with mental health<br />

were told they needed to be more<br />

resilient. The problem here is the<br />

impact that the word resilient can<br />

have on someone who is struggling<br />

with mental health. There is an<br />

implied undertone of “you’re not<br />

strong enough” if you bend, and<br />

then break.<br />

But here’s the thing. Resilience<br />

is not – and never should be – a<br />

badge of honour for bouncing back,<br />

for bending not breaking.<br />

If we view resilience like this, what<br />

happens when we break? Are we<br />

in danger of creating feelings of<br />

inadequacy and failure? In a culture<br />

that often criticises and judges the<br />

burdensome, how likely are we to<br />

really reach out and ask for help?<br />

When the going gets tough, we<br />

need an approach to well-being that<br />

removes the onus on the individual.<br />

We need to shift our thinking from<br />

resilience-oriented well-being that<br />

suggests it’s OK to struggle so<br />

long as we reach out, recover and<br />

carry on, to a more community-ofcare<br />

centred paradigm that values<br />

reaching in and tells us it’s OK if<br />

we feel broken. We don’t need to<br />

focus purely on individual resilience;<br />

we also need to empower people<br />

through connection and active<br />

support.<br />

A community-of-care approach<br />

that acknowledges the need for<br />

self-care and inner resilience, but<br />

also recognises that sometimes,<br />

even the most basic self-care and<br />

asking for help can seem impossible.<br />

A framework that encourages<br />

community members to lean on<br />

each other, to ask each other if they<br />

are OK, and that opens up a dialogue<br />

enabling mutual support.<br />

Perhaps resilience is just the wrong<br />

word? As popular as it is, maybe it<br />

does a disservice to what we are<br />

trying to achieve in improving the<br />

mental health of emergency service<br />

personnel. This isn’t about hardiness<br />

or the ability to bounce back, this is<br />

about support and connection. It’s<br />

about ensuring our colleagues know<br />

that they are never alone.<br />

Or perhaps our overall approach<br />

to resilience is the problem? Maybe<br />

we need a more holistic approach<br />

that takes the onus off the individual<br />

and places it within a communityof-care.<br />

A community that checks in<br />

with each other, one that normalises<br />

discussion around mental health and<br />

acknowledges that it’s OK not to be<br />

OK. A community that may be made<br />

up of our friends, our family, our<br />

neighbourhood, or the organisation<br />

we work for. A community that<br />

reminds us that it’s OK to not feel<br />

resilient all of the time – and that<br />

does NOT make us weak or “unresilient”.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Erin Cotter-Smith<br />

PhD, MPH, MClinEpi<br />

Course Coordinator<br />

Edith Cowan University<br />

Research Consultant<br />

The Code 9 Foundation<br />

Well-Being Team Co-Lead<br />

The Australian Red Cross<br />

Emergency Services Victoria<br />

So what is the way forward?<br />

We need to continue to get the<br />

message out that “it’s OK not<br />

to be OK.” We need to keep<br />

acknowledging that working in an<br />

emergency services role is tough.<br />

We need to keep supporting each<br />

other and asking: “Are you OK?” And<br />

we need to promote a communityof-care<br />

approach to well-being:<br />

one that encourages us all to start<br />

reaching in, as well as supporting<br />

us to reach out.<br />

Wishing you all good mental health.<br />

And for those who are bent or<br />

broken, you’re not weak. You’re not<br />

alone. You can get through this.<br />

References<br />

1 Anthony EJ and Cohler BJ (eds) (1987) The<br />

Invulnerable Child (The Guilford psychiatry series).<br />

New York: The Guilford Press.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 26




Written by: Jess LeFanu<br />

The number of women joining the<br />

various Emergency Services fields<br />

seems to be steadily increasing and it’s<br />

impressive to see how these numbers<br />

have climbed in a relatively short<br />

amount of time. However, the lack of<br />

women employed at higher ranking<br />

levels within the industry has caused<br />

new reasons for concern.<br />


The police industry became the first<br />

to officially employ women when the<br />

New South Wales Police Department<br />

advertised two positions in 1915. Close<br />

to 500 women submitted applications,<br />

but only two were chosen. Sworn in<br />

as ‘Probationary Special Constables’,<br />

Maude Rhodes and Lillian Armfield<br />

were required to sign an indemnity<br />

before joining the force, which<br />

released the Police Department of any<br />

responsibilities for their safety.<br />

Even with a large amount of female<br />

interest, the idea of women being<br />

allowed to join the police force took<br />

a while to gain momentum within<br />

Australia. It wasn’t until July of 19<strong>17</strong><br />

that Victoria decided to take on its first<br />

two police women. Though they were<br />

technically part of the force, they were<br />

labelled ‘police agents’ and had no<br />

actual powers of arrest. They were paid<br />

just half of what their male coworkers<br />

took home and had no rights to a<br />

pension.<br />

Though Tasmania’s police force also<br />

jumped on the bandwagon in 19<strong>17</strong><br />

with the addition of Constable Kate<br />

Campbell, it took the Queensland<br />

force until 1931 to gain its first female<br />

officers. Unfortunately, the rights of<br />

women within the industry had not<br />

yet improved and none were given<br />

standard wages or even uniforms. They<br />

were also restricted to assignments<br />

such as assisting lost children and<br />

working with victims of domestic and<br />

sexual violence.<br />

Even more time passed before ACT<br />

decided to make way for females on<br />

the force. Officially assigned badge<br />

number 45 in 1947, Constable Alice<br />

Clarke then made her way to Senior<br />

Constable by 1955. Though this was<br />

quite a step forward for women<br />

aspiring to join the force, the 1960s<br />

seemed to take a step backwards with<br />

regulations in place that restricted<br />

married women from being police<br />

officers. Women officers, however,<br />

were finally supplied firearms, but<br />

were required to carry them in their<br />

handbags.<br />

Though women on duty at this time<br />

were still only offered restricted duties,<br />

more positions around the country<br />

began to become available. In 1961,<br />

the Northern Territory Police Force<br />

permitted five women to become<br />

police officers for the first time in their<br />

region and by 1978, women were<br />

at last being employed with equal<br />

opportunity to the male officers on the<br />

force.<br />

The Northern Territory was also<br />

responsible for the first paid<br />

female paramedics in 1976 with the<br />

employment of Maureen Langdon<br />

and Beth Shepherd by the NT St Johns<br />

Ambulance Service. According to Miss

Photo credit: ©State of Queensland (Queensland Police Service)

Shepherd, she was paid equally and<br />

expected to take on the same work as<br />

her male coworkers. Although, at this<br />

time, maternity leave was non-existent.<br />

Amazingly, Beth was forced to resign and<br />

then reapply for her position after taking<br />

time off following the birth of her child.<br />

Ambulance Services across Australia<br />

began to hire their first female<br />

paramedics between 1979 and 1987.<br />

The only noticeable difference between<br />

the two sexes within the industry<br />

seemed to be the uniforms. Women<br />

began their paramedic careers wearing<br />

dresses and stockings before eventually<br />

making the push to switch to trousers,<br />

which were seen as much more practical<br />

apparel.<br />

It was around this same time that<br />

women started branching out into<br />

the firefighting industry and the<br />

first operational women joined the<br />

Melbourne Fire Brigade (MFB). Known<br />

as ‘Communications Operators’, the first<br />

training course took place in 1983 and<br />

Women in the Emergency Services in Victoria - Image courtesy of Ambulance Victoria Facebook<br />

comprised nine women and three men.<br />

It wasn’t until five years later, in 1988,<br />

that the first three female firefighters<br />

officially joined the MFB’s ranks.<br />

While the NSW Fire Brigade (now<br />

Fire & Rescue NSW) employed their<br />

first full-time female firefighters in<br />

March of 1985, it would take a few<br />

more years before the other brigades<br />

throughout the nation joined suit. The<br />

Northern Territory didn’t gain their first<br />

professional female firefighter until<br />

1992.<br />

With women now being successfully<br />

employed within the various sectors of<br />

the Emergency Services industry, focus<br />

shifted towards breaking the stereotype<br />

and encouraging more to think about<br />

the possibility of joining the ranks.<br />

Unfortunately, it would take quite a few<br />

years before numbers would rise to<br />

significant levels and further work is still<br />

needed to see more women advance to<br />

senior roles.<br />


In 2016, the last graduating class of<br />

firefighters entering the NSW Fire<br />

Brigade was made up of an equal<br />

number of men and women for the<br />

very first time. Greg Mullins, the<br />

Commissioner of Fire & Rescue NSW<br />

at the time, said, “Thanks to targeted<br />

recruitment campaigns, we are seeing<br />

more women applying to become<br />

firefighters than ever before and more<br />

are making it through the rigorous<br />

selection process.”<br />

Though these numbers are growing,<br />

the Emergency Services remain maledominated.<br />

Queensland recorded<br />

that just 6 percent of their full-time<br />

firefighters were female in 20<strong>17</strong> and<br />

even fewer were seen in high-ranking<br />

roles. Of the 650 station officer positions<br />

available in the state, only 8 women were<br />

working in that top job. Senior firefighter,<br />

Quinn Cramer, believes providing extra<br />

support to women could be the key to<br />

breaking through the glass ceiling.<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />



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<br />

<br />

29<br />


Ms. Cramer told ABC News, “[The job] is<br />

physically tough but...females are strong<br />

enough to get out and do an equal<br />

job to men”. She added, “They always<br />

say you can’t be what you can’t see. It’s<br />

just a matter of women believing they<br />

can do it”. Ms. Cramer suggested that<br />

just providing female support such as<br />

answering simple questions or showing<br />

women practical ways to train for the<br />

physical mobility test could assist them<br />

greatly within the industry.<br />

Similarly, Detective Inspector Virginia<br />

Nelson agrees that having visible role<br />

models is critical to helping women<br />

rise through the ranks of the police<br />

service. “We know that around the<br />

senior constable rate we decline quite<br />

significantly,” she told ABC News.<br />

Queensland’s police service recorded<br />

that women only made up a quarter<br />

of constables, less than 15 percent<br />

of senior sergeants and fewer that 9<br />

percent of inspectors in the service in<br />

20<strong>17</strong>.<br />

For Sergeant Emily Tragis, the realities<br />

of the gender divide seem to be more<br />

varying. “For instance in my current<br />

section, there are many more females<br />

than males, whereas in Railway Squad,<br />

for instance, there were only 4 females<br />

and approximately 50-60 males,”<br />

explains Ms. Tragis.<br />

Though Sergeant Tragis was one of the<br />

first women to be permanently placed<br />

at one particular outpost of the Railway<br />

Squad, she shares that the experience<br />

was a positive one. Ms. Tragis says, “I<br />

can genuinely say that all of those male<br />

colleagues welcomed me and treated<br />

me like an equal member of the team,<br />

truly like their sister.”<br />

we encounter,” says Ms. Larkin.<br />

Interestingly, Ms. Larkin explains that<br />

some of her negative experiences as<br />

a female within her industry have not<br />

come from her male coworkers. “I know<br />

of a few female colleagues, as well as<br />

myself, who have reported instances of<br />

sexual harassment/assault by patients/<br />

members of the public,” she says.<br />

Despite the issues of gender<br />

discrimination, Ambulance Victoria<br />

recorded in 20<strong>17</strong> that females were<br />

making up around 57 percent of<br />

graduate paramedic applications. Brigid<br />

Larkin agrees that in her operational<br />

ambulance sector, the gender split is<br />

close to 50:50. However, as with the<br />

police and firefighters, Ms. Larkin says,<br />

“This dramatically changes as you start<br />

looking at senior roles. Very few women<br />

move into senior positions from being a<br />

paramedic.”<br />

The numbers recorded across the<br />

various Emergency Services precincts<br />

suggest a definite increase in the<br />

amount of women joining the ranks.<br />

However, it seems we still have quite a<br />

way to go in terms of overcoming the<br />

apparent gender divide and seeing more<br />

women move into more senior roles.<br />

Essentially, all those involved within this<br />

challenging and demanding industry are<br />

focused on achieving the same goals and<br />

outcomes for the country as a whole. As<br />

Sergeant Tragis says, “I think the majority<br />

of us just want to make a difference<br />

irrespective of our genders and will work<br />

as part of a holistic team to do that.”<br />

Brigid Larkin, a paramedic for St<br />

Johns Ambulance WA, shares a similar<br />

sentiment regarding her involvement<br />

within her particular field of emergency<br />

services. “Everybody in my department is<br />

generally quite good at supporting each<br />

other through the day-to-day stresses<br />

Tasmania FIre Service first-ever career firefighting crew: L-R: Acting Station Officer Alison Wigston, Senior Firefighter<br />

Lynette Gay, Firefighter Sophie Ciszek and Firefighter Meghan Lownds. Image courtesy of TFS Facebook.<br />

<br />

_<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 30

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly<br />


Tammie Bullard is a paramedic and sessional lecturer based<br />

in Western Australia. Author of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly<br />

Paramedic - A pain free approach to best patient care and<br />

professionalism.<br />



When we make a mistake in<br />

provisional diagnosis and<br />

treatment…how does it feel<br />

for our patients, or for ourselves?<br />

For those who feel comfortable<br />

that we’ve been “in the game” long<br />

enough to not be concerned, it’s<br />

vital to know that it’s not just new<br />

healthcare professionals making<br />

errors. One of the most common<br />

causes of medical mistakes and<br />

misdiagnosis is that of over<br />

confidence.<br />

In the case of paramedics, we often<br />

remain oblivious to our incorrect<br />

clinical interpretations, as we<br />

generally don’t see patients<br />

again and, unless adverse<br />

events occur, no notification will<br />

arise. Without recognition of such<br />

errors and their associated humbling<br />

emotions, we begin to risk becoming<br />

overconfident.<br />

This does not necessarily mean<br />

complacency, although that<br />

certainly features in the mix. It<br />

can be related, instead, to the<br />

subconscious process<br />

of integrating<br />

a patient’s<br />

medical<br />

history,<br />

symptoms<br />

and vital<br />

signs, with our<br />

medical knowledge and experience.<br />

Four types of bias often influence<br />

the combination, without us even<br />

realising it.<br />

Availability bias can occur when<br />

conditions at the forefront of our<br />

minds are easier to retrieve. A<br />

practitioner is more likely to rediagnose<br />

conditions that they have<br />

recently encountered, than consider<br />

other options less common, or less<br />

recent within their experience.<br />

Representative bias, relating to<br />

the similarity of signs or symptoms<br />

we have seen before, makes some<br />

conditions appear blindingly obvious,<br />

therefore we may forget to consider<br />

the full range of potential options.<br />

A study of qualified and student<br />

healthcare providers, found that the<br />

addition of social factors such as<br />

alcohol use and recent redundancy,<br />

influenced decision making enough<br />

to render a list of clear CVA and MI<br />

symptoms less likely to be diagnosed<br />

accurately.<br />

Confirmation bias tempts us to<br />

assess for factors that “rule in” or<br />

confirm our suspicions, whilst failing<br />

to test and assess for factors that<br />

may “rule out” our theory or suggest<br />

a differential diagnosis instead.<br />

Information may be sought<br />

solely to corroborate our<br />

thoughts, and upon gaining<br />

that confirmation, we<br />

may stop asking<br />

further questions,<br />

feeling that<br />

we have<br />

reached a<br />

satisfactory<br />

conclusion.<br />

31<br />


Anchoring bias, through which we<br />

set our thoughts so firmly on the<br />

things we know, or have seen before,<br />

can render us unwilling and, possibly,<br />

incapable of changing our minds to<br />

incorporate new knowledge. This<br />

has been highlighted in situations<br />

whereby diagnosing clinicians have<br />

remained firm in their decisions,<br />

despite diagnostic evidence and<br />

autopsies to the contrary.<br />

Closing the case, and therefore our<br />

minds, in terms of diagnosis, is a<br />

common cause of clinical error. With<br />

a natural human tendency to stop<br />

looking for other possibilities once<br />

we’ve found a good solution to<br />

a problem, we risk premature<br />

closure of our differential diagnostic<br />

thoughts. So how can we avoid falling<br />

into these habits when we’re fatigued<br />

and under pressure?<br />

1. Discuss our findings and<br />

differential diagnoses aloud. This may<br />

be invaluable in maintaining an open<br />

mind, as well as encouraging the<br />

shared knowledge and experience<br />

of a colleague. If fear, ego or lack of<br />

confidence prevents us from doing<br />

so, we may be putting our patients, as<br />

well as our professional reputations<br />

and careers, at risk.<br />

“Closing the case, and therefore our minds, in terms<br />

of diagnosis, is a common cause of clinical error”<br />

2. Develop a habit of seeking to<br />

contradict any provisional diagnosis<br />

we have in mind. If we remain vigilant<br />

for additional information rather than<br />

dismiss it as irrelevant to the case<br />

we have formulated, we are actively<br />

seeking the best answer, rather than<br />

the easiest, quickest or most obvious.<br />

The only thing we have to prove,<br />

as paramedics, is that we can carry<br />

out our roles to the very best of<br />

our abilities. In doing so, patients<br />

receive the highest level of care<br />

possible, the organisations we work<br />

for maintain good standing within<br />

the local community, the prehospital<br />

profession gains momentum and<br />

respect within the medical world,<br />

individual reputations remain intact<br />

and are enhanced over time, and we<br />

go home and sleep soundly at night,<br />

free from work related concerns. We<br />

may be labelled as “indecisive” or<br />

“over thinkers” or “over treaters” or<br />

“stress heads” or other unkind terms,<br />

but the benefits of that extra effort<br />

will always outweigh any annoyance<br />

those labels leave behind.<br />

Similarly, if we imagine ourselves<br />

watching a thriller, in which the lead<br />

detective has a murder suspect in<br />

their sights, we feel frustrated when<br />

they don’t talk to colleagues about<br />

every aspect of the case. We start<br />

willing them to share information that<br />

may change their mind.<br />

During our second cup of tea, we find<br />

it infuriating that they are still fixated<br />

on the original suspect, despite new<br />

clues coming to light. Why won’t they<br />

just look around and re-assess before<br />

it’s too late?<br />

By the time we’ve spent the final nail<br />

biting hour on the edge of our seats,<br />

watching them arrest and charge<br />

the wrong person, we are incensed<br />

that the killer has escaped and<br />

another innocent victim had to suffer<br />

unnecessarily.<br />

Perhaps we can apply the same<br />

to paramedicine and adopt the<br />

ambulance detective approach<br />

to best patient care and<br />

professionalism?<br />

It may be that we are working<br />

with a crewmate who seeks to<br />

mock or discredit us, should they<br />

view this behaviour as “weak” or<br />

“unconfident”. This can make it<br />

undeniably challenging, in which case<br />

it may be necessary to either have<br />

a frank discussion about how their<br />

comments are affecting patient care,<br />

or simply work through our thought<br />

processes silently for the time being.<br />

Even if the verbal commentary has<br />

to be internal, in our own minds,<br />

it is still possible to ensure that<br />

we purposefully step through the<br />

information and diagnosis options,<br />

thus maintaining safe habits to bring<br />

into future working relationships<br />

when the team dynamic permits.<br />

3. Use the limited time we have<br />

initially upon arrival, to make our<br />

best decision, but keep going back<br />

to the tried and tested primary and<br />

secondary surveys we’re all familiar<br />

with for the remainder of the call.<br />

It often appears impressive to new<br />

paramedics, that some clinicians will<br />

attend a patient and immediately<br />

pick a diagnosis, before sticking<br />

with it unwaveringly. Whilst this may<br />

look slick and professional to the<br />

untrained eye, vital, potentially life<br />

threatening, information may be<br />

missed. Working with a provisional<br />

diagnosis and confidently reassessing<br />

for improvements, deterioration<br />

and reactions to treatment is safe,<br />

thorough, proactive and professional.<br />

References<br />

1. Kothari, S. S. (2012). Clinical errors. Annals of Paediatric<br />

Cardiology, 5 (1) 1-2. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/<br />

pmc/articles/PMC3327005/<br />

2. Cassam, Q. (20<strong>17</strong>). Diagnostic error, overconfidence and selfknowledge.<br />

Palgrave Communications, 3 (<strong>17</strong>,025). Retrieved from<br />

https://www.nature.com/articles/palcomms20<strong>17</strong>25<br />

3. Berner, E. S. & Graber, M. L. (2008). Overconfidence as a cause of<br />

diagnostic error in medicine. The American Journal of Medicine, 121<br />

(5) S2-S23. Retrieved from https://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-<br />

9343%2808%2900040-5/fulltext<br />

4. Klein, J. G. (2005). Five pitfalls in decisions about diagnosis and<br />

prescribing. The British Medical Journal, 330 (7,494). Retrieved from<br />

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC555888/<br />

5. Elston, D. M. (2019). Cognitive bias and medical errors. Journal<br />

of the American Academy of Dermatology, 81 (6). Retrieved from<br />

https://www-sciencedirectcom.ezproxy.ecu.edu.au/science/article/<br />

pii/S0190962219322832<br />

To see more about “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Paramedic”, head to<br />

www.gbuparamedic.com or follow GBU Paramedic on social media<br />

@gbuparamedic<br />

@gbuparamedic<br />

@gbuparamedic<br />

Tammie Bullard<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 32



Australia’s emergency services can now easily navigate through 130 years of data from<br />

inquiries, reviews and coronial inquests into natural disasters in one place. The Bushfire<br />

and Natural Hazards CRC’s Disaster Inquiries Database captures and categorises<br />

recommendations, ensuring lessons from the past are not forgotten.<br />

The outcomes of 130 years<br />

of inquiries and reviews into<br />

emergency management and<br />

natural hazards have been captured in<br />

a new database.<br />

The Disasters Inquiries Database is an<br />

online platform that gives emergency<br />

services the upper hand in learning<br />

from the past to create a better future.<br />

Created by the Bushfire and Natural<br />

Hazards CRC, the database contains<br />

over 300 inquiries and reviews across<br />

all states and territories.<br />

The database contains facts on<br />

all reviews conducted between<br />

1886 and 20<strong>17</strong>, in addition to full<br />

recommendations from 55 inquiries<br />

carried out from 2009 to 20<strong>17</strong>. It<br />

allows users to custom search through<br />

over 1,300 of these recommendations.<br />

Users can search and compare<br />

recommendations through keywords<br />

and themes, as all recommendations<br />

have been coded into specific<br />

categories.<br />

The functionality of the database<br />

allows it to be used in a variety of<br />

different ways:<br />

• to compare equivalent<br />

recommendations between<br />

inquiries, themes and jurisdictions<br />

• to track inquiries across<br />

jurisdictions, years and types<br />

• to download and work<br />

with all inquiries and listed<br />

recommendations as it suits<br />

the particular needs of an<br />

organisation<br />

Making data valuable<br />

Since its release, the platform has<br />

become a resource for government<br />

and emergency management agencies<br />

to help them recognise past lessons<br />

and identify effective practices both<br />

now and into the future.<br />

CRC researcher Dr Michael Eburn<br />

from the Australian National University<br />

was part of the research team that<br />

helped develop the database and he<br />

believes that it will ensure emergency<br />

managers continue to learn from the<br />

past.<br />

“Inquiry recommendations get lost<br />

or distorted over time, and so having<br />

a place where practitioners can find<br />

and search the actual text of inquiry<br />

recommendations will help with

understanding the past in order to<br />

keep learning for the future,” Dr Eburn<br />

said.<br />

“Post-event inquiries are only helpful if<br />

their recommendations are available<br />

and not forgotten. Bringing together<br />

the lessons from past events will help<br />

the practitioners identify trends and<br />

recurring themes and ensure the<br />

lessons of the past are not forgotten.”<br />

Available now for public use, the<br />

database has garnered positive<br />

feedback from those within the<br />

emergency management sector.<br />

Adrian Birch, a private data analyst and<br />

developer, said that the assembly of<br />

a repository of inquiries in one place<br />

greatly assists researchers.<br />

“The inquiries and reports following<br />

major natural disasters are produced<br />

in the context of powerful community<br />

sentiment and political considerations<br />

such that, despite their best intentions,<br />

investigators often struggle to produce<br />

reports that are fully objective and<br />

complete.<br />

“The CRC’s new Disaster Inquiries<br />

Database enables researchers to<br />

more effectively distil the accumulated<br />

wisdom from across a large and<br />

growing body of inquiry reports,” Mr<br />

Birch said.<br />

<strong>Vol</strong>unteer National Incident<br />

Management Officer for Australian Red<br />

Cross Stephen Sennett said that the<br />

system is “absolutely fantastic”.<br />

Figure 1. Many different inquiry types are available to analyse in the database.<br />

“Such a relatively simple system,<br />

but such an incredible amount of<br />

knowledge contained within. It really<br />

is such a potentially powerful tool, and<br />

brilliant that it enables practitioners<br />

from across the sector to assess<br />

such a wide range of knowledge,” Mr<br />

Sennett said.<br />

For example, a search for bushfire<br />

enquires on the Disaster Inquiries<br />

Database shows that between 2009<br />

and 20<strong>17</strong> there have been 55 inquiries,<br />

resulting in 811 recommendations.<br />

The most recommendations relate<br />

to ‘doctrine, standards and reform’,<br />

with 106 individual recommendations.<br />

‘incident management teams’ and<br />

‘emergency management agency and<br />

authority’ have also had many related<br />

recommendations, with 71 and 64<br />

respectively.<br />

Credit: Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC<br />

Relating to flood, 15 flood-related<br />

inquiries have been conducted from<br />

2009 to 20<strong>17</strong>, with the database<br />

allowing users to easily identify<br />

the recommendations made by,<br />

and outcomes of, these inquiries.<br />

From these inquiries, 328 total<br />

recommendations have been<br />

made, with most relating to ‘land<br />

use and building regulations’ (61<br />

recommendations), ‘government<br />

responsibility’ (33 recommendations)<br />

and ‘doctrine, standards and reform’<br />

(30 recommendations).<br />

CRC Research Director Dr John Bates<br />

said that the database is an accessible<br />

resource for practitioners.<br />

“The database’s multifunctionality<br />

is really what makes it exciting for<br />

researchers and agency personnel<br />

alike. Combining past learnings<br />

and recommendations from major<br />

inquiries into bushfires, flooding<br />

and cyclones in the one place gives<br />

a holistic overview for emergency<br />

management in Australia.<br />

“We’re proud to be able to provide to<br />

emergency services a place where they<br />

can get all the information from past<br />

events that will help to create a safer<br />

future for Australian communities,” Dr<br />

Bates said.<br />

The Disaster Inquiries Database is an<br />

outcome of the CRC’s Tactical Research<br />

Fund project, Major post-event inquiries<br />

and reviews: review of recommendations<br />

project, completed in 20<strong>17</strong> and<br />

commissioned by AFAC. Explore it at<br />

www.bnhcrc.com.au/utilisation/ddr.<br />

Figure 2. The most number of inquiries relate to bushfire, followed by all hazards and<br />

technical accidents. Credit: Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC<br />

By: Gabriel COlgan-Zito<br />

Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC<br />

35<br />




Why are army<br />

veterans at higher<br />

risk of suicide,<br />

homelessness and<br />

prison.<br />

The question of whether<br />

Australia does enough<br />

to support its ex-service<br />

personnel is growing in urgency, with<br />

Labor leader Anthony Albanese in<br />

December adding his voice to those<br />

calling for a royal commission into<br />

veteran suicides.<br />

The numbers are alarming – between<br />

2001 and 20<strong>17</strong>, 419 serving and<br />

ex-serving Australian Defence Force<br />

personnel died by suicide. But while<br />

the suicide rate for men still serving<br />

was 48% lower than in the equivalent<br />

general population, the rate is 18%<br />

higher for those who had left the<br />

military.<br />

For women it’s a similar story,<br />

where the suicide rate for ex-serving<br />

women is higher than Australian<br />

women generally. However, the small<br />

numbers of ex-service women who<br />

have been studied means the data<br />

are limited.<br />

But there’s another issue afflicting<br />

ex-military men that’s not often<br />

discussed: they are imprisoned<br />

twice as often as men in the<br />

general Australian population.<br />

This is according to the first known<br />

Australian prison audit to identify<br />

incarcerated ex-service members,<br />

conducted in South Australia last<br />


In fact, these findings support research from England,<br />

which identifies ex-service men as the largest<br />

incarcerated occupational group.<br />

The high rate of imprisonment, along with the spike in<br />

the suicide rate of ex-members, reflects the challenges<br />

some service people face transitioning from military<br />

service back to civilian life, and the critical lack of<br />

available transition planning and support.<br />


When a United States ex-Marine fatally shot 12<br />

people in California in 2018, President Donald Trump<br />

promoted a widespread, oversimplified connection<br />

between military service and criminal offending. He<br />

said the shooter<br />

“was in the war. He saw some pretty bad things […]<br />

they come back, they’re never the same.”<br />

We have so far interviewed 13 former service men for<br />

our ongoing research, trying to explain the findings of<br />

the South Australia audit. And we found the connection<br />

between military service and criminal offending is more<br />

complex than Trump suggests.<br />

The combination of childhood trauma, military training,<br />

social exclusion and mental health issues on discharge<br />

created the perfect cocktail of risk factors leading to<br />

crime.<br />

For many, joining the service was a way to find respect,<br />

discipline and camaraderie. In fact, most interviewees<br />

found military service effective at controlling the effects<br />

of childhood trauma. One man we interviewed said he,<br />

“could see me life going to the shit, that’s when I went and<br />

signed up for the army […] The discipline appealed to me.<br />

To me I was like yearning for it because I was going down<br />

the bad road real quick.”<br />

Another explained that joining the military was the,<br />

“BEST thing I ever did. LOVED it. Well they gave me<br />

discipline, they showed me true friendships and it let me<br />

work my issues out […] I loved putting my uniform on and<br />

the respect that I could show other people, whereas before<br />

I’d rather hit them.”<br />


TRAUMA<br />

However, all men complained military discharge was<br />

a complete, “sudden cut”. This sudden departure<br />

from the service, combined with the rigorous military<br />

training, can aggravate previous trauma. As one exservice<br />

member put it:<br />

“the military is a fantastic thing […] but the moment that<br />

you’re not there […] it magnifies everything else and it’s just<br />

like a ticking time bomb. I mean you’re trained to shoot<br />

people.”<br />

Another reflected that when he left the army, he lost<br />

the routine that kept his past traumas at bay.<br />

“I was working myself to the bone just to stop thinking<br />

about it. Then when I got out issues were coming back,

coming back. I’ve lost my structure […]<br />

and life just went to crap.”<br />

Every man we interviewed had been<br />

diagnosed with some combination<br />

of post traumatic stress, multiple<br />

personality disorder, anti-social<br />

personality disorder, bipolar,<br />

depression, panic disorder, obsessive<br />

compulsive disorder or alcohol and<br />

other drug dependence.<br />

They arose from various combinations<br />

of pre-service and service-related<br />

trauma.<br />

All interviewees lacked support from<br />

the Australian Defence Force or<br />

government veteran services. One<br />

explained how he found it difficult to<br />

manage post traumatic stress since<br />

his usual strategies were “getting very<br />

thin”.<br />

And the lack of support for their<br />

mental health issues worsened when<br />

they were incarcerated because they<br />

said the Department of Veterans<br />

Affairs cut ties, and “no-one inside<br />

the prison system is going to pay for<br />

psychological help”.<br />


For some men, joining criminal<br />

organisations was a deliberate way<br />

to find a sense of belonging and the<br />

“brotherhood” they missed from the<br />

defence force. One man reflected:<br />

“I found a lot of Australian soldiers that<br />

are lost. You think you’re a civilian but<br />

you’re not, you never will be […] even<br />

three years’ service in the army will<br />

change you forever. And the Australian<br />

government doesn’t do enough.”<br />

Ex-service men in prison are a<br />

significant, vulnerable part of that<br />

community. The Australian Defence<br />

Force and government veteran<br />

agencies need to urgently reform<br />

transition support services because<br />

current discharge processes are<br />

costing lives.<br />

English research has found peer<br />

support helps service men transition<br />

into civilian life, but the men we<br />

interviewed did not receive peer<br />

support until they were in prison.<br />

Then, it was through a welfare<br />

organisation and Correctional Services,<br />

not defence agencies.<br />

One man told us that after his<br />

discharge,<br />

“I actually went back and asked if I could<br />

mow the lawns for free, just so I could be<br />

around them still. They wouldn’t allow it.”<br />

If ex-service men could maintain<br />

contact with the Australian Defence<br />

Force through peer support and<br />

informal networks, their identity and<br />

sense of purpose could be maintained<br />

to reduce the risk factors for offending<br />

and re-offending.<br />

Authors:<br />

Kellie Toole<br />

Lecturer in Law, University of Adelaide<br />

Elaine Waddell<br />

Dr of Public Health, Flinders University<br />

This article was first published in “The<br />

Conversation” titled “‘Life just went to<br />

crap’: why army veterans are twice as<br />

likely to end up in prison”<br />

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An innovative program is repurposing<br />

donated emergency services uniforms into<br />

delightful clothes for children in need.<br />

By: Jess LeFanu<br />

Pioneer and founder of Uniforms 4 Kids, Yvonne Pattinson OAM (left)<br />

For Yvonne Pattinson OAM, the<br />

idea for the Uniforms 4 Kids<br />

program came about by accident.<br />

The Sunshine Coast resident was<br />

simply clearing out a cupboard of<br />

her daughter’s old police uniforms<br />

when the idea struck. “I went to the<br />

cupboard and I saw these uniforms<br />

and I said I should make something<br />

out of those,” Ms. Pattinson told<br />

Noosa News.<br />

An avid sewer, Yvonne put to use<br />

a life-time collection of “bits and<br />

pieces” to create an array of adorable<br />

children’s clothing out of the old<br />

uniform material. Ms. Pattinson’s<br />

daughter, current AFP Assistant<br />

Commissioner Debbie Platz, loved<br />

the idea and instantly jumped behind<br />

it. “She was in the Queensland Police<br />

Force then and she said to everyone,<br />

‘Send your uniforms down and Mum<br />

will sew them up,’” Yvonne said.<br />

Ms. Platz pointed out that old police<br />

uniforms were simply being shredded<br />

and sent to the land-fill. She believed<br />

there were numerous children in<br />

Australia that could greatly benefit<br />

from this clothing and the idea of<br />

repurposing the discarded uniforms<br />

was met with great support from her<br />

fellow officers.<br />

Yvonne said the program “snowballed<br />

from there” and now uniforms from<br />

Australian Federal Police, Australian<br />

Border Force, Queensland Fire<br />

& Emergency Services, Northern<br />

Territory Police, Fire & Emergency<br />

Services, Queensland Ambulance<br />

Service, Queensland Police Service,<br />

South Australia Police and even<br />

Australia Zoo are being donated to<br />

Uniforms 4 Kids (U4K).<br />

At a launch for U4K in February<br />

2019, Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin<br />

were announced as Ambassadors<br />

for the program and said they were<br />

honoured to be involved. “We are<br />

so happy to be part of this initiative.<br />

Watching the kids’ faces as they<br />

proudly wear their new clothes is so<br />

special,” said Robert Irwin.<br />

It is estimated that over 11,500<br />

articles of clothing have been<br />

handed out to charities, orphanages,<br />

and domestic violence shelters in<br />

Australia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji,<br />

Solomon Islands, Vietnam, Singapore,<br />

Philippines and Myanmar. The<br />

clothes are distributed directly<br />

39<br />


the Queensland Police has now<br />

established a U4K centre on the Gold<br />

Coast. “Over the last few months, a<br />

wonderful group of ladies from Sew<br />

Crazy Quilters in Helensvale have<br />

donated their time and repurposed<br />

our old police uniforms into beautiful<br />

children’s clothing,” Senior Sergeant<br />

Hartley said in November.<br />

The Helensvale group created over<br />

300 unique pieces including skirts,<br />

dresses, shorts, bags, and pencil<br />

cases that will be donated to children<br />

in domestic violence refugees across<br />

the Gold Coast.<br />

Ambassadors for the program- Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin (Terri and Robert pictured)<br />

through the Uniforms 4 Kids Partners<br />

and support organisations such<br />

as Helping Children Smile and<br />

BUSHkids.<br />

Though helping children in need<br />

is the key focus of U4K, this wasn’t<br />

initially the sole intention. “The whole<br />

idea for it, when it started, was not<br />

to clothe poor children particularly,<br />

it was to bridge the gap between the<br />

police and the communities,” Ms.<br />

Pattinson told Noosa News.<br />

This humble organisation has now<br />

created an opportunity for front line<br />

officers, other emergency services<br />

personnel, and wildlife officers to<br />

connect with children and families<br />

within the community in ways that<br />

would otherwise not have presented<br />

themselves. This, in turn, creates a<br />

trusted relationship that serves to<br />

engage and protect the community<br />

as a whole.<br />

and collect stock to take home to<br />

work on at their own leisure. Yvonne<br />

Pattinson and her team meet 9 am<br />

every Friday morning at the Cooroy<br />

centre, while the Warana sewers<br />

gather at 1pm every Thursday at<br />

Kimz Sewing & Patchwork Centre with<br />

the generous assistance of former<br />

professional designer, Joy Enever.<br />

Senior Sergeant Tracey Hartley of<br />

Uniforms 4 Kids says there’s no limit<br />

to the imagination and skills of their<br />

volunteers and you don’t even need<br />

to able to sew become part of the<br />

team. Extra hands are always needed<br />

for assistance with ironing, unpicking<br />

shirts, and removing buttons.<br />

As more volunteers come on board,<br />

more sewing centres will be opening<br />

in all parts of the country. Additional<br />

centres have already been opened<br />

in Canberra, Northern Territory, and<br />

South Australia.<br />

Visit uniforms4kids.com.au for more<br />

information on how to get involved<br />

with this wonderful organisation.<br />

Or contact Anne Macdonald APM,<br />

Director and Operations Coordinator<br />

at: Anne@uniforms4kids.com.au<br />

The other immense benefit that has<br />

appeared from the establishment<br />

of this innovative program is the<br />

opportunity it has created for<br />

retirees and other members of<br />

the community to get involved.<br />

<strong>Vol</strong>unteers are able to support a<br />

charitable program while building<br />

social cohesion and expanding their<br />

own social networks.<br />

With two Uniforms 4 Kids centres<br />

currently set up on the Sunshine<br />

Coast, volunteers meet to gain ideas<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 40

TRAVEL<br />


Breaks<br />

Words: Brooke Turnbull<br />

When it comes to exciting tourist destinations, you can’t really go past the Gold<br />

Coast. With its sandy beaches, theme parks, cultural and world renowned events,<br />

it really is a playground for anyone with a few days up their sleeves. Obviously,<br />

because of this, the Gold Coast has been done to death on any travel website,<br />

blog or magazine you can name. For this reason we’ve compiled the best of the<br />

Gold Coast, locals edition. Of course, there are some of the well known spots that<br />

you’re used to, but check out some of the hidden gems and see the Gold Coast<br />

like a local.

Location:<br />

The Gold Coast is located 1 hour south<br />

of Brisbane. It has it’s own airport,<br />

Coolangatta, and has return journeys<br />

every day to all major cities. Getting<br />

to and from the airport is as simple<br />

as jumping on a bus to the light rail<br />

station in Broadbeach, if you’re staying<br />

in or near Surfers Paradise. If you’re<br />

touring like a local and staying further<br />

south, the bus system will get you<br />

everywhere or perhaps consider hiring<br />

a car in order to visit the hinterland<br />

areas of the coast.<br />

Things to do:<br />

The Gold Coast has no shortage of<br />

exciting things to see and do for<br />

the discerning traveller. No matter<br />

how or who you’re travelling with,<br />

the theme parks are a must. Buses<br />

run from Coolangatta to each of the<br />

theme parks (Warner Brother’s Movie<br />

World, SeaWorld, Wet&Wild, Paradise<br />

Country, DreamWorld and White Water<br />

World) express daily.<br />

If you’re staying for a few days and<br />

you’ve theme parked yourself out (easy<br />

to do) the slower pace of the southern<br />

end of the Gold Coast, from Burleigh<br />

to Coolangatta, is the perfect place to<br />

relax and unwind.<br />

The breaks of DBah and Cooly (as<br />

the locals call them) are perfect for<br />

an experienced surfer, so bring your<br />

board with you. If you’re less Mick<br />

Fanning and more of a beginner, surf<br />

lessons take place daily at Currumbin<br />

Beach with several experienced<br />

companies. We recommend<br />

Currumbin Alley Surf School for this,<br />

their friendly and experienced team<br />

will have you riding the waves and<br />

hanging 10 in no time.<br />

To take in some truly breathtaking<br />

views, there’s no going past the<br />

Burleigh Hill walk. With 180 views<br />

across the coastline of the Gold Coast,<br />

from Main Beach to Coolangatta, it’s<br />

well worth the mild puffing you may do<br />

to get there.<br />

For a more nature immersive walk, the<br />

Currumbin Rock Pools at the base of<br />

the Cougals is a short but enjoyable<br />

walk to and from the old Saw Mill. Take<br />

in the bird song and twinkling sound<br />

of the water rushing over the rocks<br />

in the forest. Both of these walks are<br />

wheelchair and pram accessible, so,<br />

while they are steadily uphill, they wont<br />

take too much out of you but they give<br />

much back in return.<br />

After your day walking the tracks, you<br />

might find you’re a bit hungry. For a<br />

casual lunch, head back into James<br />

Street in Burleigh, where you’ll find<br />

a mix of different restaurants to suit<br />

your budget and cravings.<br />

For a local experience, visit Burleigh<br />

Heads Fishmongers on James Street<br />

and get your fish and chips to take<br />

away. Enjoy them up on Burleigh Hill,<br />

while watching the surfers on the<br />

break down below.<br />

For dinner, Coolangatta offers a wide<br />

array of delicious dining options, from<br />

Indian to Japanese and everything<br />

between. If you’re dining with a special<br />

person, check out Baskk at Kirra<br />

Point. It offers a beautiful selection of<br />

cocktails and a number of different<br />

banquet style share plate menus.<br />

The food is divine, the atmosphere<br />

is beautiful and, we can only hope,<br />

who you choose for your company is<br />

excellent.<br />

Places to Stay:<br />

The Gold Coast is, of course, host to<br />

a variety of options when it comes to<br />

places to stay. To be amongst the laid<br />

back locals, make sure to stay at the<br />

southern end.<br />

Bella Mare Beachside Apartments,<br />

located in Coolangatta, offers selfcontained<br />

apartment style rooms and<br />

are reasonably priced from $180 per<br />

night in low season.<br />

For a pricier stay, consider 5 star<br />

apartments Bon Sol in Burleigh<br />

Heads. Rooms start at $650 in low<br />

season, and include a bottle of vintage<br />

champagne on arrival and access to all<br />

of Burleigh’s nightlife.<br />

Of course, there are plenty of available<br />

AirBNB’s in the area that will cater<br />

to what you need, (beachside, pets,<br />

number of rooms). There isnt a<br />

shortage of options at the southern<br />

end of the coast, from budget to lavish.<br />

The Gold Coast is not a new place to<br />

have a holiday, but with its access to<br />

gorgeous beaches, fun events and<br />

local nightlife, it still offers a fresh and<br />

exciting holiday with every visit. And<br />

remember, to truly have the best time<br />

on the Gold Coast, stay where the<br />

locals stay and go where they go. With<br />

this advice, you’ll head back home<br />

feeling refreshed and renewed. Happy<br />

travels, until next time.<br />

Coolangatta Surf Breaks<br />

Burleigh Headland<br />

Currumbin Rock Pools<br />


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 />


Get<br />

storm<br />

ready.<br />

Storms can strike at any time, that’s why it’s important<br />

to always be prepared.<br />

Prepare your home<br />

Stay safe while driving<br />

Trim trees and branches close to your house<br />

Secure loose items in your backyard<br />

Clear gutters, downpipes and drains<br />

Get your roof checked for damage or corrosion<br />

Make sure all shades, sails and awnings are<br />

properly fitted<br />

Get your insurance up-to-date<br />

Always follow flood warning signs<br />

Never drive through flood water<br />

Shelter vehicles under cover, not under trees<br />

Avoid driving when a storm is coming<br />

Get your insurance up-to-date<br />

Helpful hints:<br />

You can ask the council or energy<br />

company to check trees on your street<br />

that may pose a threat to your property or<br />

powerlines.<br />

Even if you’ve cleared your gutters<br />

recently, they can soon fill up with leaves<br />

and other debris, especially after a<br />

downpour. On average you should check<br />

they’re clear every couple of weeks.<br />

If you don’t already know your neighbours,<br />

go and introduce yourself. They might<br />

need a hand getting storm ready. Plus,<br />

when bad weather strikes it’s important to<br />

be able to tell the SES who lives nearby.<br />

Make sure everyone in your household<br />

knows what to do in severe weather.<br />

For tips on developing a house<br />

emergency plan use the SES guide at<br />

www.stormwise.com.au<br />

If you do need help during a severe storm, call the Queensland State Emergency Service on 132 500<br />

Principal Partner<br />

G018213 11/16

ARE THEY<br />

TRIPLE OK?<br />

We’re always there to help.<br />

Let’s make sure we help each other and ask R U OK?<br />


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