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AESM Vol 22 Edition 1 2021

The latest Australian Emergency Services Magazine Vol 22 Issue 1 2021. The latest in emergency services news and events. Regular columnists Associate Professor Erin-Cotter Smith, Paramedic and author Tammie Bullard and Dr Michael Eburn for all things Emergency Law. Bushfire Natural Hazards CRC on the Risks of Floodwater, Paramedic Rasa Piggott's open letter to the board of Ambulance Victoria and subsequent information regarding the independent inquiry and the anatomy of the recent Perth bushfire and how it differed to the Black Summer fires. Free to subscribe through the website www.ausemergencyservices.com.au

The latest Australian Emergency Services Magazine Vol 22 Issue 1 2021. The latest in emergency services news and events. Regular columnists Associate Professor Erin-Cotter Smith, Paramedic and author Tammie Bullard and Dr Michael Eburn for all things Emergency Law. Bushfire Natural Hazards CRC on the Risks of Floodwater, Paramedic Rasa Piggott's open letter to the board of Ambulance Victoria and subsequent information regarding the independent inquiry and the anatomy of the recent Perth bushfire and how it differed to the Black Summer fires. Free to subscribe through the website www.ausemergencyservices.com.au

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VOL <strong>22</strong>: Isssue 1, <strong>2021</strong><br />

SUMMER FIRES<br />

RAGE AGAIN<br />

The Anatomy of the<br />

Perth Bushfire


We’ve got your back.<br />

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Emergency Services Health Pty Ltd ABN 98 131 093 877


FEATURE<br />

CONTENTS<br />

FEATURE<br />

Summer Fires Rage<br />

in the West<br />

As Perth suburbs burn<br />

with a loss of over 80<br />

homes, the rest of<br />

Australia watches and<br />

learns<br />

17<br />

PARAMEDIC<br />

RASA PIGGOTT’S<br />

OPEN LETTER<br />

TO THE BOARD<br />

OF AMBULANCE<br />

VICTORIA<br />

“<br />

Paramedic culture is<br />

in crisis. If Victorian<br />

Paramedicine is to<br />

fulfil its professionally<br />

legislated requisites, we<br />

need to dismantle the<br />

oppressive, patriarchal<br />

hierarchy that is<br />

preventing us from<br />

developing in to an<br />

emotionally intelligent<br />

and flexible 21st<br />

century entity.<br />

“<br />

23<br />

FEATURE<br />

The Importance of<br />

Mental Safety in the<br />

Workplace<br />

35<br />

Do You Have a<br />

Disaster Resilience<br />

Action Plan?<br />

You Wouldn’t Drive<br />

into a Bushfire so<br />

Why Drive into a<br />

Flood?<br />

New research is delving<br />

into why people enter<br />

floodwater and what<br />

can be done to change<br />

this risky behaviour.<br />

29<br />

Stuart Taylor, CEO of<br />

Springfox discusses<br />

mental safety risks for<br />

those in the emergency<br />

services and the signs to<br />

look out for<br />

11<br />

Australia’s First Exit<br />

Program for OMCG<br />

Members<br />

Australia’s first exit<br />

program for former outlaw<br />

motorcycle gang members<br />

wanting a lasting way out<br />

of gang life.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au<br />

How the small town of<br />

Tarnagulla in country<br />

Victoria developed their<br />

own RAP during the<br />

challenging times of<br />

bushfire and a pandemic.<br />

37


THE REGULARS<br />

• Editor’s Note<br />

• Recent Events<br />

3<br />

Trauma Related Training for Emergency Services<br />

Personnel<br />

High Tech Drones to Lift Victoria’s Firefighting Capability<br />

AFAC Conference <strong>2021</strong><br />

• Emergency Law with Dr Michael Eburn<br />

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

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

• Emergency Breaks - Margaret River, Western Australia<br />

• In the Spotlight - SES Mounted Section WA<br />

5<br />

6<br />

7<br />

9<br />

<strong>22</strong><br />

33<br />

41<br />

45<br />

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

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LET’S TALK MENTAL HEALTH<br />

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.<br />

EMERGENCY LAW<br />

Dr Michael Eburn - PHD, Barrister<br />

and leading expert in law relating to<br />

emergency management & emergency<br />

services.<br />

MAGAZINE CONTACTS<br />

Editorial Content<br />

press@ausemergencyservices.com.au<br />

THE GOOD, THE BAD &<br />

THE UGLY PARAMEDIC<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 />

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EMERGENCY BREAKS<br />

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EDITOR’S NOTE<br />

Welcome to the first edition of the Australian Emergency<br />

Services Magazine for <strong>2021</strong>.<br />

Our thoughts are with the communities over in Perth<br />

as fire has raged through the Eastern Suburbs burning<br />

over 10 000 hectares and destroying 86 homes. A huge<br />

thank you to the firefighters who worked tirelessly to<br />

save homes and protect lives. The Department of Fire<br />

and Emergency Services in Western Australia has had<br />

a difficult summer period with cyclones, heatwaves and<br />

now fires occuring simultaneously. You can read more<br />

in this issue about the anatomy of the fire and how it<br />

differed from the Black Summer fires of 2019/20.<br />

The independent review of Ambulance Victoria has<br />

begun, with many confidential pathways for participation<br />

open to both current and former employees. We have<br />

published Paramedic Rasa Piggott’s open letter to the<br />

board of Ambulance Victoria. This letter triggered the<br />

board of Ambulance Victoria to request the independent<br />

review into the allegations of workplace discrimination<br />

and sexual harassment within the organisation. If you<br />

are a current or former employee of Ambulance Victoria<br />

you will find information within this article on how to<br />

take part in the investigation run by the Victorian Equal<br />

Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. The<br />

Australian Emergency Services Magazine will be following<br />

the inquiry closely and will provide updates throughout<br />

the year via our website and magazine.<br />

We hope you enjoy this edtion of <strong>AESM</strong>,<br />

Bianca Peterson<br />

Editor in Chief<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au<br />

DISCLAIMER<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 organisations,<br />

emergency service sectors, emergency<br />

and disaster management, government,<br />

universities, TAFE 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 />

BOOTHBOOK MEDIA<br />

DIGITAL MEDIA & MARKETING<br />

WANT TO CONTRIBUTE?<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 />

3<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au


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RECENT EVENTS<br />

As part of the Australian<br />

Government’s Mental Health<br />

Supports for Bushfire Affected<br />

Australians package, the Department<br />

of Health has engaged Phoenix<br />

Australia – Centre for Posttraumatic<br />

Mental Health to deliver training<br />

programs to aid frontline workers in<br />

order to better support community<br />

members affected by the recent<br />

19/20 bushfires across Australia.<br />

This training has been designed to<br />

equip and inform emergency services<br />

personnel to:<br />

• Support community members<br />

recovery from bushfires<br />

• Promote their own resilience and<br />

psychological recovery from the<br />

bushfires<br />

• Support the resilience and<br />

wellbeing of their teams and<br />

organisations<br />

To achieve these aims, two evidenceinformed<br />

online self-paced training<br />

packages will be freely available to<br />

eligible staff:<br />

• Trauma Informed Care (TIC)<br />

resources and training programs<br />

to aid frontline emergency<br />

personnel. General information<br />

about TIC can be found here.<br />

• Psychological First Aid (PFA)<br />

resources and training programs<br />

to managers and supervisors of<br />

frontline emergency personnel<br />

affected by the bushfires in order<br />

to support their employees<br />

and their own resilience and<br />

wellbeing. General information<br />

about PFA can be found here.<br />

Phoenix Australia will be making<br />

direct contact with a number of<br />

emergency services organisations<br />

TRAUMA-RELATED<br />

TRAINING FOR<br />

EMERGENCY SERVICES<br />

PERSONNEL<br />

contacts in the coming weeks and<br />

months.<br />

You can also submit an Expression<br />

of Interest form if you or your<br />

organisation would like to be<br />

considered for free access to these<br />

programs.<br />

Some organisations may be able to<br />

access this training face-to-face in<br />

<strong>2021</strong>.<br />

For further information about the<br />

training programs offered by Phoenix<br />

Australia please contact Phoenix<br />

Australia directly on 03 9035 5599 or<br />

head to their website:<br />

www.phoenixaustralia.org<br />

5<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au


RECENT EVENTS<br />

Victoria’s firefighting capabilities<br />

have been boosted with the<br />

launch of a new aviation unit<br />

and four new drones that will<br />

gather aerial images of fires and<br />

other emergencies to strengthen<br />

emergency response efforts on the<br />

ground.<br />

Minister for Police and Emergency<br />

Services Lisa Neville joined Fire<br />

Rescue Commissioner Ken Block<br />

today to announce a new Fire Rescue<br />

Victoria (FRV) aviation unit based at<br />

Burnley. The new unit will use cutting<br />

edge drone technology, led by a<br />

highly specialised team of firefighters.<br />

Minister Neville spoke of the benefits<br />

this latest technology addition<br />

would have for firefighters and the<br />

community,<br />

“As we saw during last year’s<br />

devastating bushfire season, our<br />

firefighters tackle some incredibly<br />

complex and challenging fires – these<br />

four new drones within Fire Rescue<br />

Victoria’s new aviation unit will<br />

significantly add to their fire-fighting<br />

arsenal.”<br />

“Thanks to this highly specialist<br />

aviation unit and these new highly<br />

specialised drones, our emergency<br />

services will have greater access to<br />

critical information and intelligence<br />

to efficiently contain fires, respond to<br />

emergencies and save lives.”<br />

HIGH TECH DRONES TO LIFT<br />

VICTORIA’S FIREFIGHTING<br />

CAPABILITIES<br />

Featuring both high-definition<br />

thermal imaging and live streaming<br />

cameras, the unit’s four new drones<br />

are able to capture better quality<br />

footage from the air to support<br />

firefighting and other emergency<br />

service purposes.<br />

The drones represent a significant<br />

uplift in capabilities for FRV’s existing<br />

drone service - known as its remote<br />

piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) service<br />

- because of their ability to stay in<br />

the air for up to 30 minutes and to<br />

withstand difficult wind conditions.<br />

Importantly, the new drones can<br />

carry both thermal and optical<br />

cameras at the same time, an<br />

advancement on existing aircraft<br />

within the RPAS fleet which can carry<br />

only one type of camera at a time.<br />

The technology means firefighters<br />

can better monitor fires and other<br />

incidents from the air, and get a fuller<br />

picture of complex fires, ultimately<br />

increasing community safety and<br />

contributing to saving lives.<br />

Fire and Rescue Commissioner, Ken<br />

Block said,<br />

“This technology provides us with<br />

much greater situational awareness<br />

during a range of emergency<br />

incidents and dramatically improves<br />

timely decision making and<br />

community and firefighter safety.”<br />

FRV’s new aviation unit will be<br />

staffed by four dedicated specialist<br />

firefighters, including Civil Aviation<br />

Safety Authority-qualified drone pilots<br />

and specialist aviation accredited<br />

personnel.<br />

The unit, which became operational<br />

last month, has already been<br />

instrumental in supporting the<br />

response to a recent industrial fire in<br />

Laverton North.<br />

FRV drones were used last year to<br />

support rapid impact assessment<br />

of fire-affected areas throughout<br />

Victoria following the bushfires that<br />

ravaged large parts of the state in late<br />

2019 and early 2020.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 6


RECENT EVENTS<br />

AFAC CONFERENCE <strong>2021</strong><br />

BALANCING IMPACT AND EXPECTATIONS<br />

As recent emergency events<br />

have shown, there’s an evolving<br />

extreme that is producing new<br />

challenges in terms of impact on<br />

the community, environment and<br />

economies. The community expects<br />

the emergency management sector<br />

to stay ahead of these events<br />

but with resourcing challenges,<br />

overlapping seasons here and<br />

abroad, and the surge in reviews,<br />

inquiries and recommendations, what<br />

do agencies do differently?<br />

AFAC21 will focus on how we manage<br />

the consequences of major events<br />

and meet the expectations of the<br />

community and government. The<br />

program will explore how the sector<br />

can continue to learn and find<br />

opportunities to deliver with new and<br />

innovative approaches.<br />

The committee is encouraging the<br />

submission of an abstract for the<br />

Research Day, AFAC Conference or a<br />

Conference Poster under one of the<br />

following supporting topics:<br />

• new approaches<br />

• embedding research into<br />

practice<br />

• looking after ourselves and<br />

others<br />

• communities<br />

Don’t miss out on the opportunity<br />

to be part of Australasia’s premier<br />

emergency management conference<br />

and exhibition. Abstract submissions<br />

close on Monday 15 February <strong>2021</strong>.<br />

The Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE)<br />

Australia national conference will be<br />

held in conjunction with AFAC21. The<br />

Conference will explore the theme<br />

Vision <strong>2021</strong>: Shifting the culture;<br />

Enhancing safety, sustainability and<br />

resilience.<br />

The Australian Institute for Disaster<br />

Resilience (AIDR) will once again be<br />

co-locating the Australian Disaster<br />

Resilience Conference with AFAC21.<br />

The conference will explore the<br />

theme Meeting in the middle:<br />

community voices and complex<br />

choices and more information is<br />

available on the Australian Disaster<br />

Resilience Conference website.<br />

AFAC21 powered by INTERSCHUTZ<br />

features a world-class exhibition<br />

which attracted nearly two<br />

hundred exhibitors in 2019, with<br />

46 international exhibitors from<br />

16 countries in attendance. The<br />

exhibition attracts a comprehensive<br />

range of exhibitors covering all<br />

facets of emergency management<br />

equipment, technology and services.<br />

The exhibition features the popular<br />

live demonstration zone and practical<br />

expo stage presentations.<br />

The conference will take place<br />

between the 17th and 20th August<br />

<strong>2021</strong> at the International Convention<br />

Centre in Sydney.<br />

For more information visit<br />

www.afacconference.com.au<br />

7<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au


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The Centre offers a wide range of Incident Management, Crisis Leadership and Business Preparedness programs<br />

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AUSTRALIAN EMERGENCY LAW with Dr Michael Eburn<br />

A DISCUSSION ON<br />

THE LAW THAT<br />

APPLIES TO OR<br />

AFFECTS AUSTRALIA’S<br />

EMERGENCY SERVICES<br />

AND EMERGENCY<br />

MANAGEMENT<br />

MANAGING FATIGUE<br />

IN COUNTRY<br />

AMBULANCE<br />

STATIONS<br />

November 28th, 2020<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 />

Today’s correspondent has:<br />

… some questions about the responsibility of the<br />

employer vs employee in managing fatigue levels<br />

at work.<br />

I’m a Paramedic with an Australian ambulance<br />

service. The branch/station that I work at works<br />

a call roster with another Paramedic. As a<br />

new staff member at this branch I have asked<br />

management for some guidance around the<br />

roster and call expectations in regards to fatigue<br />

management and have been told on multiple<br />

occasions that it is our individual responsibility<br />

to manage our fatigue levels, and that we should<br />

be taking uninterrupted breaks if we feel we are<br />

too fatigued to remain on duty. My concern<br />

with this is that 1) At certain levels of fatigue we<br />

become unable to make unimpaired decisions<br />

about our own fatigue levels and, 2) What<br />

impact is compounded fatigue having on our<br />

decision making ability?<br />

We work a rotating roster of 4 or 5 dayshifts<br />

0800-1900 with a call period from 1900-0800.<br />

The expectation is that we would be at the<br />

branch for our dayshifts and respond from<br />

home in the ambulance if there is a case during<br />

the on-call period.<br />

We have two options for managing our fatigue.<br />

At the end of a case during the on-call period<br />

(where we have not already had a 10-hour<br />

continuous break since the completion of our<br />

dayshift) we would commence a 10-hour rest<br />

break, where we return to our on-call state<br />

(home) and are available to be dispatched to<br />

further cases. If no case occurred in this time,<br />

we would be expected back at the branch for<br />

the remainder of our dayshift at the completion<br />

of the 10-hour rest break. If this rest break<br />

is interrupted for a case, we would then<br />

recommence a new 10-hour rest break at the<br />

completion of the case.<br />

As we start our week in a call period it is not<br />

uncommon that we can be ‘chasing’ a 10-hour<br />

break for multiple days.<br />

If we felt at the end of a case that we were too<br />

fatigued to recommence call we can take an<br />

uninterruptible rest break where we would sign<br />

off and return home in our own vehicles for 10<br />

hours. At the completion of this uninterruptible<br />

rest break, we would then be expected to return<br />

to duty, regardless of the time of day. This can<br />

mean that we would be expected to return to<br />

duty in the early hours of the morning.<br />

Just a couple of other notes on this point.<br />

* In the last few months, it has not been<br />

uncommon for crews to be doing 30 or more<br />

hours of call in a 5-day period.<br />

* If we take an uninterruptible rest break, we<br />

are expected to make our own way home,<br />

unless someone else is at the branch and can<br />

drive us home (generally daytime hours only).<br />

Our branch doesn’t have a staff carpark, so<br />

staff don’t leave vehicles on the street for the<br />

5 days we are on call, and our town doesn’t<br />

offer an overnight taxi service. This means<br />

staff are walking home at all hours of the day<br />

and night if they require an uninterrupted<br />

break, increasing crew reluctance to take<br />

an uninterrupted rest break overnight or in<br />

inclement weather.<br />

* The staff that have been working at the<br />

branch for a number of years have been<br />

adjusting to the increasing workload and<br />

despite them feeling that they are doing too<br />

many hours, they also feel uncertain as to when<br />

they should be taking uninterrupted breaks as<br />

they have been able to meet the demands of<br />

the town for a number of years. Additionally,<br />

if a crew takes an uninterrupted fatigue break<br />

in the early hours of the morning the town can<br />

be uncovered for potentially 6 hours or more<br />

until a replacement crew can be contacted in<br />

the morning. When the staff all live in the town<br />

there is an element of guilt around leaving the<br />

town uncovered.<br />

My concern around fatigue management<br />

particularly relate to Paramedic liability if<br />

something ‘goes wrong’ such as if we were to<br />

crash the ambulance, or make a medication<br />

mistake resulting in harm to one of our patients.


(My correspondent has not identified<br />

the jurisdiction so I will assume the<br />

model work health and safety (WHS) Act<br />

applies. That is not the case in either<br />

Victoria or WA but the answers will<br />

not be significantly different in those<br />

jurisdictions).<br />

The short answer is that everyone has<br />

responsibility for managing their fatigue.<br />

The employer as Person Conducting a<br />

Business or Undertaking (PCBU) has an<br />

obligation to design the workplace to<br />

minimise risks to health and safety of<br />

staff. That requires a thought-out fatigue<br />

management policy for a service that<br />

operates 24 hours a day/7 days a week.<br />

A WHS policy must have regard not only<br />

to the safety of staff and patients when at<br />

work but as noted, when making their way<br />

to and from work.<br />

Employees have a duty to take reasonable<br />

care of their own safety, follow the<br />

PCBU’s work health and safety policies<br />

and to raise WHS concerns through the<br />

consultation processes in the workplace,<br />

whether that’s health and safety<br />

representatives, the WHS committee or<br />

via an industrial union.<br />

In the heavy vehicle industry the fact that<br />

everyone has responsibility for safety,<br />

including fatigue management, is reflected<br />

in the concept of ‘chain of responsibility’<br />

(see Greencap Understanding Transport<br />

Chain of Responsibility (5 October 2018);<br />

National Heavy Vehicle Regulator Chain of<br />

Responsibility (2020)). Ambulance services<br />

are not generally operating heavy vehicles<br />

but the principles that give rise to chain<br />

of responsibility still exist under modern<br />

WHS and OHS legislation.<br />

Who will be liable if ‘something goes<br />

wrong?’<br />

It will depend on the circumstances of the<br />

particular case, what went wrong and who<br />

could have done something about it.<br />

If it’s a medication mistake harming a<br />

patient the employer will be liable but a<br />

registered paramedic my face professional<br />

sanction both for their conduct in making<br />

the mistake and for their conduct in not<br />

taking steps to manage fatigue.<br />

In a motor vehicle accident it will be the<br />

compulsory third party insurer that will<br />

meet any damages claim but the driver<br />

may be subject to criminal prosecution –<br />

see Meagan Dillon ‘SA paramedic breaks<br />

down on the stand as he explains rollover<br />

which killed patient’ ABC News (Online) (10<br />

November 2020).<br />

Where employees work out of loyalty<br />

to the employer or the community,<br />

pasting over the cracks left by inadequate<br />

resourcing, they give the employer no<br />

problem to fix – ‘Everything’s working fine;<br />

no-one’s complaining’.<br />

To manage fatigue employees have to<br />

actually insist on applying the policies<br />

– take those breaks even if it leaves the<br />

community un-serviced. And push to<br />

have better policies by raising the matter<br />

through your WHS committee, your<br />

trade union and the relevant WHS/OHS<br />

inspectorate.<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.<br />

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

cannot be relied upon to determine any person’s<br />

legal position. How the law applies to any<br />

specific situation or event depends on all the<br />

circumstances.<br />

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

obligations with respect to any event that has<br />

happened, or some action that is proposed,<br />

you must consult a lawyer for advice based on<br />

the particular circumstances. Trade unions,<br />

professional indemnity insurers and community<br />

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

advice.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 10


THE IMPORTANCE OF MENTAL<br />

SAFETY IN THE WORKPLACE<br />

Last year was a challenging one for all of us, but perhaps<br />

especially for emergency service workers. From caring for<br />

critically ill COVID-19 patients, to attending emergencies in<br />

bushfire affected areas, all on top of routine callouts, emergency<br />

service workers have had a physically and mentally demanding<br />

year – putting many on the fast-track to burnout.<br />

Yet one of the few silver linings of<br />

this year is the way in which it has<br />

underscored the importance of<br />

mental safety in the workplace. The<br />

pandemic’s impact on our collective<br />

mental health has forced leaders and<br />

their teams to rethink organisational<br />

well-being and recognise that<br />

workplace health and safety includes<br />

identifying and preventing not<br />

only physical illness and injury, but<br />

mental too.<br />

While it’s often easy to spot physical<br />

risks or ailments, such as broken<br />

piece of equipment or a co-worker<br />

suffering from the flu, the impact of<br />

repeated mental stresses is often<br />

harder to identify. Despite this,<br />

mental health risks can be just as<br />

harmful to the well-being of the<br />

individual – not to mention their<br />

wider team, and importantly, the<br />

patients in their care.<br />

MENTAL SAFETY RISKS IN<br />

EMERGENCY SERVICE WORK<br />

Mental safety risks in the workplace<br />

are often difficult to recognise. They<br />

can be subtle, intangible, and vary in<br />

severity from one person to the<br />

next – meaning a mental health risk<br />

to one worker may not be the same<br />

for his colleague. This is what makes<br />

them so harmful – many workers<br />

and leaders don’t recognise mental<br />

safety risks until it’s too late.<br />

While mental safety risks are present<br />

in every workplace and in every<br />

profession, there are a few that<br />

emergency service workers are<br />

particularly vulnerable to. Repeated<br />

exposure to trauma, violence or<br />

physical danger, dealing with highpressure<br />

and high-risk scenarios,<br />

and a physically and emotionally<br />

demanding occupation will inevitably<br />

put strain on the mental wellbeing<br />

of first responders. Other<br />

factors such as poor leadership<br />

from management, conflict or toxic<br />

workplace culture, an excessive<br />

workload or lack of job satisfaction<br />

can also pose a risk to workers’<br />

mental health.<br />

IDENTIFYING THE SIGNS OF<br />

SOMEONE AT RISK<br />

In order to support someone at<br />

risk of burnout or mental ill-health,<br />

we need to know which signs to


look out for. While many will be<br />

able to recognise symptoms like<br />

panic attacks, overworking, or<br />

breakdowns, more subtle symptoms<br />

like mood changes and fatigue<br />

will often go undetected. A lack of<br />

focus, pessimism, change in eating<br />

patterns, complaining of poor sleep,<br />

isolation, difficulty making decisions<br />

and emotional detachment are all<br />

red flags of someone at risk.<br />

If someone on your team is<br />

displaying one or more of these<br />

signs, it’s important to take action<br />

and reach out to them. But first,<br />

consider your approach and<br />

its possible outcomes. Are you<br />

prepared to have an effective<br />

and genuine conversation? What<br />

steps can be taken to alleviate<br />

the pressure this individual is<br />

experiencing? Are you aware of your<br />

boundaries and responsibilities?<br />

Your readiness to ask the question<br />

depends on these answers. Make<br />

sure you have a plan in place before<br />

starting the conversation to ensure<br />

you can provide meaningful help<br />

where it’s needed.<br />

BUILDING RESILIENCE TO<br />

SAFEGUARD MENTAL HEALTH<br />

One of the best ways to mitigate<br />

against mental health risks in the<br />

long term is to focus on building<br />

personal resilience. Resilience is a<br />

skill that can be purposefully built<br />

and skilfully maintained, reducing<br />

symptoms of distress and physical<br />

vulnerability and enabling us to<br />

better cope with stressful periods.<br />

Building resilience begins with the<br />

basics: a healthy, nutrient-rich diet,<br />

regular exercise, and between 7-8<br />

hours of restful, restorative sleep.<br />

This forms the foundation of a<br />

resilient lifestyle. In addition, positive<br />

relationships, setting dedicated time<br />

for rest and leisure, and practicing<br />

mindfulness or gratitude will work to<br />

enable a healthy, resilient mindset.<br />

These seemingly insignificant habits<br />

play a crucial role in promoting<br />

well-being by forming, in effect, a<br />

preventative scaffolding to support<br />

us in times of trauma. Without<br />

this structure to support us, we<br />

are particularly vulnerable to the<br />

emotional impact of a repeatedly<br />

demanding, high-pressure<br />

profession.<br />

PROTECTING AGAINST WORKPLACE<br />

MENTAL HEALTH ‘INJURIES’<br />

Embedding resilience practices into<br />

the culture of your workplace will<br />

help to build a safe and supportive<br />

culture but it’s important that this<br />

goes beyond merely a box-ticking<br />

exercise. Efforts to build a resilient,<br />

mentally healthy workplace must be<br />

led and modelled by the C-suite and<br />

reinforced by everyday practices.<br />

Leaders also have an important role<br />

to play here, particularly when it<br />

comes to building trust. According<br />

to Springfox’s recent report, The<br />

Australian Workforce Response to<br />

COVID-19, there is some discrepancy<br />

between leaders’ perceptions of<br />

staff’s level of trust versus actual<br />

levels reported by staff – in fact,<br />

leaders believed 16.5% of their staff’s<br />

level of trust in others decreased due<br />

to COVID-19 in comparison to 32% of<br />

staff who said their trust was lower<br />

as a result of the pandemic.<br />

For this reason, leaders must<br />

prioritise building – or in some cases,<br />

rebuilding – their staff’s trust. When<br />

leaders operate from a foundation<br />

of honest and transparent<br />

communication, underpinned by<br />

compassion and care, they are<br />

reminding staff that the organisation<br />

values them and their well-being<br />

beyond simply the role they perform.<br />

Leaders have a responsibility to<br />

protect workers from both physical<br />

and psychological risks and ensure<br />

that appropriate systems are in place<br />

to reduce these risks and monitor<br />

the health of workers and workplace<br />

conditions. In addition, adequate<br />

counselling and mental health<br />

support services must be made<br />

available, with staff encouraged to<br />

make full use of them as needed.<br />

While this line of work will always<br />

come with its unique challenges, to<br />

effectively operate in high-risk, highpressure<br />

environments, emergency<br />

services workers require a great<br />

deal of personal resilience. Dealing<br />

with trauma requires responders<br />

to be equipped with the skills to<br />

recognise, process and recover from<br />

their experience, as well as to rebuild<br />

resilience and prevent mental health<br />

risks from reappearing in future.<br />

Stuart Taylor<br />

CEO and<br />

Co-founder<br />

of Springfox<br />

For over a decade, Stuart has engaged and<br />

inspired with his workshops, keynotes and<br />

conference presentations to more than 20,000<br />

people globally with measurable impact<br />

achieved across many organisations.<br />

His early career included periods of rapid<br />

advancement within organisations as diverse<br />

as the Royal Australian Air Force, KPMG,<br />

and Heinz, developing his broad experience<br />

in aerospace engineering, IT, finance and<br />

psychology.<br />

A potentially devastating diagnosis of brain<br />

cancer in 2002 led Stuart on a personal<br />

journey back to physical, cognitive,<br />

emotional and spiritual health. The<br />

experience gave Stuart a unique appreciation<br />

of the tangible benefits of the practices that<br />

helped him overcome a 2.5-year prognosis<br />

and demanding cancer treatments.<br />

Stuart became a strong advocate for<br />

incorporating cultural practices into the<br />

Australian workplace to nurture wellbeing<br />

through the body, heart, mind and spirit.<br />

Stuart formalised this resolve in 2003,<br />

founding The Resilience Institute in Australia<br />

- now Springfox.<br />

Stuart’s broadened perspective and empathybased<br />

approach enables him to identify<br />

challenges and customise effective strategies<br />

for clients seeking optimal organisational<br />

performance. Stuart’s ultimate purpose is<br />

helping people and organisations, typically<br />

through leadership and senior teams, shift<br />

into a more compassionate space in order to<br />

reach sustainable high performance.<br />

www.springfox.com


www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 14


RAPID, RESILIENT CONNECTIVITY<br />

ANYWHERE, ANYTIME<br />

From remote healthcare and disaster relief to search-and-rescue<br />

operations, Australian emergency services organisations must be<br />

ready to respond immediately without advance knowledge of where<br />

or when in Australia their need will arise.<br />

The unpredictable nature of<br />

emergency services leads to a<br />

reliance on ubiquitous, secure, highperformance<br />

communications that<br />

are both flexible and cost-effective, no<br />

matter how remote the operation.<br />

Access to reliable connectivity in remote<br />

locations can often be the difference<br />

between success and failure, even life<br />

and death.<br />

While organisations can maintain vast<br />

communications networks, those chains<br />

of command break down when teams<br />

lack effective connectivity to send and<br />

receive their communications.<br />

Unanticipated “surge” requirements<br />

often call for swift deployment of<br />

forces into remote Australian areas<br />

with no infrastructure to support their<br />

connectivity requirements.<br />

With the increasing use of advanced,<br />

high-throughput applications for<br />

frontline emergency services teams,<br />

there is a growing need for fixed and<br />

portable satellite communications that<br />

can support the evolving requirements<br />

for simultaneous data, voice, and video<br />

communications for frontline crews<br />

operating on the tactical edge, in places<br />

with limited or no mobile or internet<br />

coverage.<br />

Activ8me Business Services’ fixed and<br />

portable satellite solutions provide<br />

Australian emergency organisations<br />

with immediate access to reliable<br />

communications anywhere in Australia,<br />

linking advance teams to information<br />

and services essential to their mission.


Activ8me Business Services, along with parent company<br />

Australian Private Networks, have been providing<br />

business grade solutions for remote connectivity to<br />

government and enterprise for almost two decades.<br />

The Royal Flying Doctor Service is one of the largest<br />

and most comprehensive aeromedical organisations in<br />

the world. Their fleet of 71 specially equipped aircraft<br />

provides 24-hour emergency medical care to people over<br />

an area of 7.69 million square kilometres. In 2018/19<br />

alone, 38,615 Australians were flown for emergency<br />

treatment by the RFDS’ aviation medical teams.<br />

Activ8me Business Services remote communications<br />

solutions ensure the RFDS remains at the forefront of<br />

communications innovation.<br />

Operating over vast distances and across harsh<br />

landscapes, the RFDS requires communications solutions<br />

that can connect RFDS crews working in remote areas.<br />

Travelling to isolated towns with little phone and internet<br />

connectivity is just one of the many challenges the RFDS<br />

face in their day-to-day operation.<br />

An Activ8me custom-built, solar-powered ground station at a remote airstrip in<br />

Collarenebri, NSW, previously considered a communication ‘blackspot’.<br />

By installing custom-built, solar-powered ground stations<br />

to remote airstrips frequented by the RFDS that are<br />

considered communications ‘blackspots,’ Activ8me has<br />

been able to offer remote crews’ weather and navigational<br />

aids for landing sites, as well as WiFi, emergency phone<br />

access and external lighting for airstrips.<br />

These ground stations reduce the risk of landing in<br />

challenging conditions for RFDS pilots who previously had<br />

to rely on weather reports from hundreds of kilometres<br />

away.<br />

“Applying their skills and prowess in technology and<br />

connectivity, Activ8me are directly assisting the Royal<br />

Flying Doctor Service in our continued work to bring<br />

health services to areas that just don’t have it,” said Frank<br />

Quinlan, Federation Executive Director of the RFDS.<br />

“Connectivity for a remote clinic or a remote airstrip can<br />

make all the difference in life and death.”<br />

Reliable, easy-to-use portable solutions from Activ8me<br />

Business Services offer connectivity anywhere in<br />

Australia, providing essential communications to frontline<br />

teams, remote outposts or as a DRP solution, enabling<br />

communications to-and-from remote operations critical<br />

for mission success.<br />

Above: The portable solution is available in various form-factors, including mounted to<br />

a trailer or vehicle.<br />

Below: For more extended deployments, the service can be mounted using a nonpenetrable<br />

ground mount.<br />

Available in a range of form-factors, including vehiclemounted,<br />

ground-mounted or in a case, the portable<br />

solution comes with a lightweight, protective skid-case<br />

that houses the modem, WiFi router, LAN port, cabling<br />

and auto-aligning controller (where applicable).<br />

With the ability to develop bespoke solutions to meet<br />

unique requirements of Australian emergency services<br />

teams directly, Activ8me can tailor their satellite solutions<br />

to meet a wide variety of use-cases.<br />

To learn more about the solutions<br />

Activ8me Business Services can offer,<br />

visit business.activ8me.net.au or<br />

email corporatesales@apn.net.au.


AS PERTH’S SUBURBS<br />

BURN, THE REST OF<br />

AUSTRALIA WATCHES<br />

AND LEARNS<br />

February has already been a bad month for Perth. Bushfire<br />

has destroyed 81 homes and burned more than 10,000<br />

hectares northeast of the city. Residents in the midst of a<br />

COVID-19 lockdown were told to abandon their homes and<br />

seek shelter as the bushfire raged.<br />

Joe Fontaine<br />

Lecturer, Environmental and Conservation Science,<br />

Murdoch University<br />

Lewis Walden<br />

Research associate,<br />

Curtin University


The disaster calls to mind the<br />

unprecedented Black Summer<br />

fires that devastated eastern Australia<br />

last summer. But the tragedies are<br />

very different beasts.<br />

Obviously, the Black Summer fires<br />

were much more widespread,<br />

prolonged and lethal than what<br />

Western Australia is experiencing. The<br />

east coast fires were largely triggered<br />

by lightning, while that’s not thought<br />

to be the case in the Perth fire. Wind<br />

and temperature also played different<br />

roles in the two disasters.<br />

So let’s examine the drivers of the<br />

Perth fire, and consider what the rest<br />

of Australia can learn as we face a<br />

future of worsening bushfires.<br />

Anatomy of a fire<br />

The fire was first reported at noon on<br />

Monday near the town of Wooroloo,<br />

on Perth’s fringe. Authorities don’t<br />

yet know how it began, but say “no<br />

criminality” has been identified.<br />

The absence of lightning at the time<br />

of ignition, and the proximity to<br />

residential areas, suggests the fire was<br />

accidentally caused by humans. The<br />

location of the fire near homes also<br />

meant it destroyed property far more<br />

quickly than if had begun in a remote<br />

area.<br />

Fire science breaks fire behaviour<br />

into three main components: fuels,<br />

topography and weather. And of<br />

course, an ignition is needed to set it<br />

off.<br />

The bushfire started in an area of<br />

large, privately owned blocks of land.<br />

This area mostly consists of scattered<br />

trees in grassy paddocks which, in<br />

summer, are dry and burn easily.<br />

Fences and trees then ignite and<br />

winds carry embers forward, starting<br />

spot fires.<br />

The land area now burning is one of<br />

the most hilly parts around Perth.<br />

Fire spreads faster uphill, and the<br />

slopes redirect winds, adding more<br />

complexity to fire suppression. The<br />

topography and location of the fire<br />

on private properties also made firefighting<br />

access difficult.<br />

Weather played a major role. The<br />

fire started during one of Perth’s<br />

typical summer easterly wind<br />

Residents in fire-affected areas had been told to abandon lockdown and evacuate to escape the fires. AAP Image/Supplied by DFES, Evan Collis<br />

Kadia<br />

is an Occupational<br />

Therapy practice supporting<br />

the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne.<br />

We are dedicated to helping our clients<br />

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accomplish their goals in living with a disability<br />

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www.ausemergencyservices.com.au


events, involving strong gusts, high<br />

temperatures and low relative<br />

humidity. Most bushfires that burn<br />

out of control near Perth begin during<br />

these events.<br />

To make matters worse, a tropical<br />

low tracking down Australia’s west<br />

coast means the windy conditions<br />

are expected to last up to six days –<br />

longer than the typical two to three<br />

days. This presents a major challenge<br />

for emergency response personnel.<br />

The areas burning today are well<br />

known for their bushfire risk. In 2009,<br />

a fire outside the town of Toodyay<br />

destroyed 38 homes under similar<br />

weather conditions.<br />

How WA differs to the east coast<br />

Along Australia’s east coast, the<br />

bushfire season can start as early<br />

spring and in some parts, extend<br />

into autumn. Last summer’s horrific<br />

conditions were a combination of<br />

long-term drought and an intensely<br />

hot, dry spring. In contrast, almost all<br />

bushfires in southwestern Australia<br />

have historically occurred in the dry<br />

summer period.<br />

Western Australia has more<br />

pronounced seasonal rainfall than<br />

the eastern states. In particular, the<br />

southwest corner of Australia has<br />

a Mediterranean-like climate. Every<br />

summer is dry, increasing the bushfire<br />

risk. In contrast, eastern Australia<br />

typically has a wet, humid summer<br />

with rain spread throughout the year.<br />

La Niña conditions have brought<br />

much rain to Australia’s east in recent<br />

months. Western Australia had some<br />

La Niña moisture in November, but<br />

winter rain was below-average and the<br />

summer has so far been dry.<br />

Career Firefighter Mick Dybac captured this powerful moment of fellow Daglish Senior Firefighter<br />

David Ellis, in front of a home they had just saved in the Wooroloo bushfire. DFES Facebook<br />

And as southwestern Australia<br />

continues to warm and dry under<br />

a changing climate, the period of<br />

bushfire risk is now getting longer.<br />

That means bushfires in spring and<br />

autumn will become more common.<br />

And the shifting climate will bring<br />

make bushfires worse both in the<br />

west and across Australia. Bushfires<br />

may escape more quickly, burn more<br />

intensely, resist control and occur over<br />

a greater part of the year. Plants will<br />

have drier foliage, further increasing<br />

bushfire intensity.<br />

Preparing for worse fires<br />

Bushfire is a part of life in Australia<br />

and these tragedies will happen again.<br />

Fortunately for Perth residents, there<br />

have been no fatalities and minimal<br />

injuries so far.<br />

Looking ahead in WA, new bushfire<br />

knowledge hubs and universitygovernment<br />

collaborations will<br />

open important new conversations<br />

about the future bushfire risk and its<br />

management.<br />

But we must continue to improve<br />

land-use planning, building codes and<br />

mitigation strategies to ensure we’re<br />

prepared for worse bushfires under<br />

climate change.<br />

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

Conversation’<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 20


Lets<br />

‘<br />

Talk Mental<br />

Health<br />

with Associate Professor<br />

Erin Cotter-Smith<br />

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO “REBOOT”<br />

OUR THINKING ABOUT MENTAL<br />

HEALTH IN <strong>2021</strong><br />

If you’re anything like me, the end of 2020 couldn’t come<br />

quickly enough!<br />

It was a year like no other. The catastrophic Black Summer<br />

bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic challenged us as<br />

individuals and communities in unprecedented ways – and<br />

tested both our physical and mental health like neverbefore.<br />

The ongoing anxiety, grief and loneliness can lead to<br />

a spiral of negativity that is hard to break out of. And<br />

while many people will not experience long-term impact,<br />

COVID-19 has the potential to contribute to or exacerbate<br />

mental ill health in the long-term.<br />

That said, as challenging as 2020 was we can now look<br />

forward to a fresh start with new goals.<br />

An opportunity to “reboot”<br />

For many of us, a new year is an opportunity to create<br />

change. It is also an opportunity to re-assess our mental<br />

health needs and “reboot”.<br />

So how can we approach <strong>2021</strong> and beyond with hope and<br />

optimism?<br />

An important first step is identifying and addressing<br />

destructive habits. This can be difficult and confronting<br />

and, in some cases, may initially mean forcing ourselves out<br />

of our comfort zones and require us to do things that are<br />

hard – but that will gradually make us feel better.


Evidence-based methods for “rebooting”<br />

GET MOVING<br />

Exercise has long been associated<br />

with both better physical and mental<br />

health.<br />

Exercise has been linked with better<br />

cognitive performance and improved<br />

cardiovascular health and reduced<br />

neurodegenerative disorders such as<br />

depression.<br />

People who exercise also live<br />

longer! Even gentle exercise, such as<br />

walking for 30 minutes per day, can<br />

be beneficial for both physical and<br />

mental health. Consistency is also<br />

important, so make sure that you pick<br />

something that you actually enjoy<br />

doing so that you keep doing it!<br />

EAT BETTER<br />

This one is a no-brainer! The better<br />

fuel we put into our bodies – the<br />

better we will feel.<br />

But sometimes it can be difficult to<br />

make healthier choices – even though<br />

we may want to.<br />

The evidence on this is clear though;<br />

food influences our mood.<br />

If – like me – you find yourself<br />

reaching for something sweet midafternoon<br />

(hello donuts!), you’re<br />

certainly not alone! Many of us<br />

find ourselves sneaking in a cheeky<br />

“reward” or trying to boost our mood<br />

with food.<br />

Unfortunately, while a quick sugar hit<br />

may be a good short-term fix, it can<br />

actually end up making us feel worse<br />

in the long-run.<br />

Food can have a big impact on our<br />

day-to-day mood changes and overall<br />

well-being. So it’s really useful to<br />

understand what foods we should be<br />

eating to support better health and<br />

well-being.<br />

Making changes can be challenging<br />

– so try to start small and look for<br />

simple swaps to improve your diet.<br />

Little positive changes add up to a<br />

healthier, happier you.<br />

KEEP CONNECTED<br />

Feeling lonely and isolated is<br />

detrimental to both our physical and<br />

mental health.<br />

Throughout the pandemic we heard<br />

the term “social distance” – however<br />

– we needed to stay “physically<br />

distanced” but remain socially<br />

connected.<br />

A recent study showed that there<br />

was a negative relationship between<br />

isolation and emotional cognition<br />

during the COVID-19 pandemic – but<br />

this effect was smaller in those that<br />

stayed connected with others during<br />

lockdown.<br />

Keeping connected socially is also<br />

associated with decreased risk of<br />

mortality as well as a range of illnesses.<br />

And connection is associated with<br />

positive feelings and increased<br />

activation in the brain’s reward system<br />

– so it actually makes us feel better!<br />

So as we live through <strong>2021</strong>, an<br />

important way to help “reboot” our<br />

mental health is to maintain our social<br />

connections with family and friends<br />

and expand your horizons by making<br />

some new connections!<br />

TRY SOMETHING NEW<br />

Our brains change during critical<br />

periods of development - but this<br />

change is also a lifelong process.<br />

When we experience new things, such<br />

as trying something new or learning<br />

new skills, we can actually modify both<br />

brain function and structure – and<br />

ultimately feel better! So try something<br />

new – like taking up a musical<br />

instrument or learning a new language.<br />

Both of these activities have been<br />

associated with changing the structure<br />

of the human brain.<br />

GET ENOUGH SLEEP!<br />

Getting enough sleep is an essential<br />

part of living a healthy life. Yet many<br />

of us do not fully understand the<br />

relationship between sleep and good<br />

health.<br />

When we are asleep our brain<br />

recharge and toxic waste by-products<br />

are removed, helping to maintain<br />

normal brain functioning and good<br />

overall health and well-being.<br />

Sleep is also very important for<br />

maintaining cognitive and emotional<br />

function and reducing mental fatigue.<br />

Studies of sleep deprivation have<br />

demonstrated that not getting enough<br />

sleep can disrupt our emotional<br />

functioning.<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 />

Sleep has also been found to exert<br />

a strong regulatory influence on<br />

the immune system. If you have the<br />

optimal quantity and quality of sleep,<br />

you will find that you have more<br />

energy, better wellbeing and are<br />

able to develop your creativity and<br />

thinking.<br />

WE MUST CHANGE HOW WE SEE MENTAL<br />

HEALTH<br />

As well as trying to implement<br />

these evidence-based methods for<br />

“rebooting” our mental health in<br />

<strong>2021</strong>, we must also challenge the<br />

idea that only the ‘weak’ struggle<br />

with mental health, and that our<br />

mental health is something fixed and<br />

unchanging.<br />

We CAN make changes!<br />

We need to move on from framing<br />

mental health in binary terms – “good<br />

or bad”, “ill or well.”<br />

Whether we are thinking about<br />

ourselves or others, the language we<br />

use when talking about mental health<br />

matters.<br />

So here’s to a better, more mentally<br />

healthy <strong>2021</strong> for everyone!


“OUR WORKPLACE<br />

IS UNSAFE, AND<br />

IT’S BREAKING<br />

PARAMEDICS”<br />

In a damning letter outlining<br />

widespread allegations of<br />

sexual harassment, bullying and<br />

workplace discrimination occuring<br />

within Ambulance Victoria,<br />

Paramedic Rasa Piggott opened<br />

the floodgates for other employees<br />

to step forward with their own<br />

experiences and set the ball in<br />

motion for an independent inquiry<br />

into workplace equality within<br />

Ambulance Victoria.<br />

Rasa Piggott<br />

Image Credit: Penny Stephens/The Age


In her open letter to the board of<br />

Ambulance Victoria, Ms Piggott<br />

described the workplace as an<br />

environment where ‘sexual and<br />

gendered harassment was woven into<br />

the fabric of the organisation’ and that<br />

this systemic culture of abuse was<br />

‘breaking paramedics’.<br />

The letter contains examples of the<br />

very confronting reality facing female<br />

paramedics within the service. This<br />

includes being ogled at and regarded<br />

as a sexual object whilst performing<br />

duties. Physical abuse, threats of<br />

sexual abuse and discrimination and<br />

exclusion from higher roles within the<br />

service based on plans to fall pregnant,<br />

parental leave and age.<br />

As a paramedic and educator, Ms<br />

Piggott has spent the last three years<br />

raising these issues of systemic<br />

workplace discrimination within<br />

Ambulance Victoria. She states in her<br />

letter that she has been punished by<br />

middle-management for doing so.<br />

During this time she has spoken to<br />

many other paramedics, both men<br />

and women, documenting instances of<br />

corruption, bullying and harassment.<br />

The experience of victimisation and<br />

bullying has not been limited to female<br />

employees. Ms Piggott describes her<br />

colleagues as exhausted and deserving<br />

of a safe, equitable and inclusive<br />

workplace.<br />

In a series of articles published in<br />

“The Age’, Journalist Wendy Tuohy<br />

spoke to many other paramedics who<br />

were willing to come forward with<br />

their own stories once the inquiry<br />

was announced. The articles detail<br />

a devastating, yet common, theme<br />

of varied instances of bullying and<br />

harassment.<br />

Middle to upper management within<br />

Ambulance Victoria has been described<br />

as having a ‘boys club culture’, when<br />

it comes to promotion and regard for<br />

female employees. Five people told<br />

The Age that the harassment was so<br />

bad they considered suicide.<br />

A study into the nature of workplace<br />

discrimination conducted by<br />

Swinburne University and RMIT<br />

in conjunction with the Victorian<br />

Ambulance Union (VAU) found that<br />

amongst 663 Ambulance employees,<br />

two thirds of them would prefer to<br />

stay silent for fear of retribution. They<br />

didn’t feel confident that any change<br />

would occur as a result of coming<br />

forward or reporting discriminatory<br />

behaviour.<br />

After receiving Ms Piggott’s letter<br />

imploring Ambulance Victoria to take<br />

action, Ambulance Victoria chair Ken<br />

Lay and CEO Tony Walker announced<br />

an independent inquiry into the claims.<br />

Ambulance Victoria’s CEO, Tony Walker<br />

condemned the behaviour described<br />

in Ms Piggott’s letter and subsequent<br />

allegations by a number of employees.<br />

“Like many Victorians, I am distressed<br />

and deeply disappointed to read<br />

reports of bullying, harassment and<br />

discrimination against women in my<br />

organisation. I want to be very clear<br />

that these behaviours and actions have<br />

no place in the Ambulance Victoria I<br />

lead. They will simply not be tolerated.<br />

In a video statement to all employees<br />

of Ambulance Victoria, CEO Tony<br />

Walker shared his commitment to<br />

addressing the issues within the<br />

organisation and warned anyone who<br />

thought that these behaviours were<br />

acceptable that they should leave the<br />

service.<br />

These claims will now be subject<br />

to an investigation by the Victorian<br />

Equal Opportunity and Human<br />

Rights Commission as requested<br />

by Ambulance Victoria. In addition<br />

to the inquiry being conducted by<br />

VEOHRC, WorkSafe Victoria will also be<br />

investigating claims of bullying within<br />

the organisation.<br />

The investigation by VEOHRC will be<br />

ongoing for the next 3 years and will<br />

include a review, implementation<br />

of recommendations from the<br />

commission by Ambulance Victoria<br />

and an audit of how well these<br />

recommendations have been<br />

implemented.<br />

In the review phase of the investigation<br />

the Commission will examine the<br />

nature, extent, drivers and impact of<br />

discrimination, sexual harassment and<br />

victimisation experienced by current<br />

and former staff and volunteers.<br />

Ambulance Victoria employ over 5000<br />

staff including but not limited to; onroad<br />

clinical staff, operation support<br />

and managerial staff, MICA paramedics<br />

and trainees, Community Emergency<br />

Response Team volunteers, Ambulance<br />

Community Officers and community<br />

support officers. The inquiry is for all<br />

staff.<br />

The independent review will examine<br />

what measures are in place to prevent<br />

and eliminate discrimination, sexual<br />

harassment and victimisation within<br />

Ambulance Victoria and if these<br />

measures are adequate. Current<br />

strategies that are used to ensure a<br />

safe, equal and inclusive workplace will<br />

also be identified. You can download<br />

the terms of reference for the review<br />

from the Commission’s website.<br />

HOW CAN YOU TAKE PART?<br />

In order to complete a thorough<br />

investigation that will benefit all<br />

Ambulance Victoria employees and<br />

create a cultural change, all voices<br />

must be heard regardless of gender<br />

identity. Ambulance Victoria has issued<br />

a limited waiver of confidentiality<br />

obligations in order for as many people<br />

as possible to come forward. Current<br />

and former employees can come<br />

forward in confidence with stories as a<br />

witness to events, or as someone with<br />

personal-lived experience.<br />

There are a number of confidential<br />

pathways for participants to choose<br />

from.<br />

• Complete an online survey<br />

• Make a written submission<br />

• Participate in a confidential<br />

interview<br />

• Participate in a focus group.<br />

Current and former employees and<br />

first responders/volunteers can<br />

complete a confidential online survey<br />

between <strong>22</strong> February and 19 March<br />

<strong>2021</strong>. On <strong>22</strong> February <strong>2021</strong>, current<br />

employees and first responders/<br />

volunteers will automatically receive a<br />

unique link to the survey.<br />

Former employees and first<br />

responders/volunteers need to register<br />

their interest in completing the survey<br />

by emailing the Commission.<br />

All links to these pathways can be<br />

found at Victorian Equal Opportunity &<br />

Human Rights Commission website.<br />

The Commission will publish a public<br />

report at the conclusion of Phase 1<br />

detailing findings and outlining their<br />

recommendations for Ambulance<br />

Victoria. This report will be published<br />

by 30th November <strong>2021</strong>.<br />

The Victorian Equal Opportunity &<br />

Human Rights Commission will provide<br />

regular updates throughout the<br />

inquiry.<br />

We have published Rasa Piggott’s<br />

open letter to the board of Ambulance<br />

Victoria on the following pages. An<br />

equal, safe and inclusive workplace<br />

should be a fundamental right for all.<br />

We applaud the courage and strength<br />

shown by Rasa Piggot and others who<br />

have come forward to share their<br />

stories in the hope of igniting change<br />

for the benefit of current and future<br />

paramedics.<br />

If this article has raised issues for you, or if<br />

you’re concerned about someone you know<br />

call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue<br />

1300 <strong>22</strong>4 636.


October 27, 2020<br />

Mr. Ken Lay<br />

Chairperson - Board of Directors<br />

Ambulance Victoria<br />

Victoria, Australia<br />

Rasa Elizabeth Piggott<br />

paramedics.victoria@gmail.com<br />

Dear Mr. Lay and The Board of Directors,<br />

Collective Paramedic experience confirms a culture of widespread bullying, gendered discrimination and micro aggressive<br />

retribution in Victoria. Dangerous power gradients remain unhinged and facilitate a patriarchal system that defies<br />

Employment Law, Public Sector Code of Conduct, health-professionalism and community expectation. An inarguable divide<br />

between Ambulance Victoria’s operational and corporate sectors inhibits necessary reform. Our workplace is unsafe, and it is<br />

breaking Paramedics.<br />

Sexual and gendered harassment is woven into the fabric of Ambulance Victoria. As a graduate, I had my breasts ogled and<br />

was advised to use them to ‘my advantage’. I was warned that you can’t progress your career clinically and have kids at the<br />

same time. I was sexualised whilst caring for Patients. It was assumed I would make ‘cups of tea’ at branch whilst senior male<br />

colleagues sat in a circle sharing testosterone bathed war stories. As a junior Paramedic, I remember feeling lucky that ‘at least’<br />

I wasn’t being referred to as the driver of the ‘bra-mobile’ or pressured to watch pornography at branch, as had been the case<br />

for some of my predecessors. It wasn’t until I began to outwardly express my career ambition that I realised the limitations of<br />

our indoctrinated patriarchal system.<br />

From gendered subtleties such as exclusion, to horrible instances of sexual misconduct, archaic norms continue to be<br />

experienced at every level within operational Paramedicine. Accounts of gendered discrimination in Ambulance Victoria<br />

include instruction to not get pregnant if wanting to pursue a higher role, exclusion from career pathways if planning on<br />

becoming pregnant, and negative attitudes toward pregnancy post promotion. Women describe being pushed out of roles<br />

because of their childbearing age, and report having to wean infants off breast milk at only a few months old to accommodate<br />

for the lack of line management support. Women have recalled experiences of sexualisation in numerous settings, including<br />

at cardiac arrests. When I embarked on a recent attempt to further my career, I was counselled about the inconvenience of<br />

maternity leave for team settings and careers, asked to demonstrate my bed making skills and later, asked about my age. Male<br />

colleagues around me have been permitted to progress their careers down the path I was intending, whilst I have been ignored<br />

and sabotaged. Additionally, eye opening discussions pertaining to sexual harassment and sexual misconduct have confirmed<br />

that some are not only experiencing active discrimination, but also instances of abuse.<br />

Normalised gendered harassment can be seen in our every day. Women experience disempowering retorts and offensive<br />

labelling in response to enthusiasm; e.g. ‘she’s an excitable puppy’; ‘she’s Miley Cyrus on the wrecking ball’. Women have been<br />

told they ‘don’t listen’ when seeking justification for decision making. Women have had their success attributed to fictitious<br />

sexual relationships. Women have been instructed to ‘just sit and listen’ in meetings where men predominate. Women have<br />

been told that they only perceive an issue because they ‘are a woman, and women are emotional’ or ‘hormonal’. Women<br />

have had their work credited to men. Women have received complaints for advocating for Patient safety. One of the most<br />

toxic and limiting workplace interactions for female Paramedics is that of women disempowering other women secondary to<br />

internalised misogyny.<br />

Female Paramedic numbers are rising, but only because more women are completing the bachelor’s degree. Women<br />

overwhelmingly dominate the junior tiers of the Paramedic profession and are strikingly absent or excluded from clinical<br />

decision-making tiers. When enquiring about Paramedic diversity data, I was told that access to such information would<br />

require filing for freedom of information. I was then pulled aside and advised to not make such enquiries as doing so<br />

questioned the capacity of certain members of staff. Despite my efforts, I have not yet received confirmation that policies<br />

specifically supporting and ensuring gender equality relating to recruitment, retention, performance management processes,<br />

promotions, talent identification, training and development exist. I’ve also not received confirmation of existing KPIS for<br />

middle management relating to gender equality, and I’ve not been able to locate any process that regularly screens managers to<br />

ensure the absence of favouritism and bias driven employee promotion. There appears to be nothing of substance in place to<br />

assist female career advancement. There is a diversity strategy in place, but the strategy lacks a backbone given the apparent<br />

absence of appropriate policy to turn strategy in to reality.<br />

Unregulated influence in Ambulance Victoria has been facilitated by illegitimate promotion schemes. As a result, hierarchical<br />

power plays prevent equal opportunity employment and merit-based selection. It is well known that if one is seeking<br />

promotion, they need to appear nonthreatening to the patriarchal privilege that dominates the upper tiers of the Paramedic<br />

world. In other words, keep your head down and stay silent. Ignore questionable clinical practice. Don’t speak up about<br />

any negligence you may witness. Don’t advocate for your patient when working with an authority figure. Don’t speak up<br />

about intimidation. Ignore harassment. Tolerate abusive colleagues and stay quiet about your consequent PTSD. It is<br />

widely understood that if you become known as someone who has spoken up or challenged the status quo, micro-aggressive


etribution sneaks in to your every day, and career growth grinds to a halt. A favourite intimidation tactic appears to be having<br />

your ‘fitness for duty’ questioned.<br />

Possession of unregulated decision-making power by a powerful few breeds employee silence through fear of career limiting<br />

repercussions. Said employee silence reinforces that unregulated power. Our subsequent need to self-preserve via silence has<br />

spawned a climate in which quality-assurance is often avoided. Why would anyone submit an incident report when there is<br />

no internal process that allows for anonymity, and doing so risks both career progress and punitive repercussions? Coming<br />

from a Nursing background where professional standards have ensured incident reporting is normalised, non-threatening and<br />

encouraged, I find this cultural norm in the Paramedic community startlingly dangerous. It opposes our legislated requirement<br />

to protect the public. Ambulance Victoria’s steep authority gradients not only impact upon employee career advancement and<br />

wellbeing, but also Patient safety.<br />

Illegitimate promotion schemes also facilitate a culture of cronyism, further inhibiting merit-based selection. Examples include<br />

the staff member agreeing to promote a candidate because of a phone call from a popular figure head requesting so. The staff<br />

member refusing to promote a candidate because someone told them not to. Promotion being gifted to an employee because<br />

‘so-and-so said they were good’, whilst others are made to jump through rigorous hoops that resemble bastardisation. Our lack<br />

of appropriate process means that wherever there is a power imbalance, the potential for a junior employee to be denunciated<br />

without justification exists, as does the potential to hide bullying in all forms. There is a Professional Conduct Unit, but<br />

given some of its staffing incorporates rotating, operational Paramedics, it can be appreciated why many view this system as<br />

orchestrating a perpetual conflict-of-interest, and thus avoid reporting any issues pertaining to misconduct or discrimination.<br />

Bolstering our discriminatory workplace is the lack of flexibility within certain roles, and the reality that gaining flexible work<br />

is akiin to forfeiting career prospects. For example, if you want to be an Intensive Care Paramedic with access to a funded<br />

study-position, you must commit to working and studying full time for the duration of the course. This totals 80-hour work/<br />

study weeks within a shift-work world. Despite our EBA limiting the number of months one can work a ‘ten-fourteen’ roster,<br />

some Intensive Care students still find themselves having to fight for access to a safer shift pattern that will allow them to work<br />

whilst also study, parent, partner and maintain their own health. If you cannot study and work fulltime, you can opt to pay for<br />

the master’s course yourself. Unfortunately, this is a culturally frowned upon education pathway, and it’s not uncommon to hear<br />

of these students having immense difficulty obtaining access to graduate positions. At present, there is no confirmation that a<br />

Master’s of Intensive Care completed outside of the one University commandeered by Ambulance Victoria will result in access<br />

to employment. When I’ve worked with those in their study phase of the funded Masters of Intensive Care, I have witnessed<br />

defeated and deflated individuals struggling to put one foot in front of the other. Intractable fatigue impedes decision making<br />

on-road, mental health is shredded, physical health is obsolete. Nobody says anything because culturally, one risks victimisation<br />

upon qualifying as an Intensive Care Paramedic if they become known as the graduate who disrupted the status quo. Men who<br />

have children whilst undertaking this process barely make it out alive. Women often delay having a family. Lack of flexibility and<br />

equitable access to education is literally forcing women into having geriatric pregnancies.<br />

The argument that any role as a Paramedic cannot be done flexibly due to part-time hours limiting exposure to patients (and thus<br />

skillset maintenance) is often made, but entirely flawed. All one needs to do is look at the disparity in exposure to cases between<br />

rural and metropolitan Paramedics to confirm the invalidity of this argument. If lack of exposure within any role secondary to<br />

reduced work hours is a genuine concern, then improved access to education and skillset maintenance to ensure equitable career<br />

promotion is necessary.<br />

Paramedic culture is in crisis. If Victorian Paramedicine is to fulfil its professionally legislated requisites, we need to dismantle the<br />

oppressive, patriarchal hierarchy that is preventing us from developing in to an emotionally intelligent and flexible 21st century<br />

entity. My greatest professional privilege has been to teach the Paramedics of the future. They possess the capacity-of-thought<br />

and holistic perspective needed to modernise our industry. We need to create a system that seeks to benefit all by empowering<br />

the individual to realise their potential.<br />

Mr. Lay, in putting this letter together, I have spent time talking to women and men employed as operational Paramedics across<br />

the state. My colleagues are exhausted. Through tears, they have shared their stories - some have experienced abuse beyond the<br />

imaginable. I have been attempting to gain traction regarding the systemic cultural issues within our service for three years.<br />

Earlier this year, I filed incident reports pertaining to corruption, bullying and harassment. I have been punished by middlemanagement<br />

for doing so.<br />

Without a safe, equitable and inclusive workplace, our capacity to serve the public will remain hampered.<br />

I believe it is time for an Equal Opportunity and Human Rights inquiry.<br />

Additionally, it would be my privilege to arrange a meeting so that we alongside others, can openly and honestly discuss<br />

achievable, measurable and inexplicably necessary short and ling-term operational goals.<br />

Warm Regards,<br />

Rasa Elizabeth Piggott


Supporting the Wellbeing<br />

and Resilience of<br />

Australia’s Emergency<br />

Services


‘After the Fires‘ is a national survey conducted by<br />

The University of Western Australia (UWA), Flinders<br />

University, The Road Home and Roy Morgan Research.<br />

These organisations have been funded by the Australian<br />

Government to study the impact of the 2019-2020 bushfires<br />

on the resilience and wellbeing of fire and emergency<br />

services personnel.<br />

The 2019–20 bushfire season was one of the most intense<br />

and sustained ever seen in Australia.<br />

The impacts of major bushfires are substantial and<br />

ongoing. Cumulative exposure to traumatic events can<br />

negatively affect the wellbeing of those called on to<br />

respond to critical incidents and emergencies.<br />

We believe the unprecedented intensity and severity of the<br />

2019–20 bushfires probably harmed the wellbeing of at<br />

least some responders, many of whom are volunteers.<br />

‘After the Fires‘ will help to understand the health and<br />

wellbeing of employees and volunteers in the emergency<br />

sector so we can plan and provide better services and<br />

support.<br />

THE PROCESS<br />

‘After the Fires‘ has two parts. The first is a survey which<br />

will be conducted in 2020 and again in <strong>2021</strong>. The second<br />

is a series of focus groups or individual interviews in<br />

communities most affected by the fires.<br />

UWA are working with fire and emergency service agencies<br />

across Australia who will invite employees and volunteers<br />

to participate in the online survey. The survey will focus on<br />

the deadly 2019-2020 summer fires across Australia but<br />

also the response to bushfires in general. The survey takes<br />

around 25 to 30 mins to complete and can be done on any<br />

computer, laptop, tablet or phone that has internet access.<br />

Individuals who volunteered or worked in fire and<br />

emergency services over the 2019-2020 bushfire season,<br />

including those fighting the fires directly, those in call<br />

centre roles, those in relief centres, peer supporters, and<br />

those participating in mobilising community actions during<br />

the crises etc., will be approached to participate in the<br />

focus groups or interviews. Family members and support<br />

people of emergency service personnel will also be invited<br />

to participate.<br />

Individual interviews will be approximately 1 hour and focus<br />

groups 90 minutes in duration. Questions may include<br />

how the person came to be in the role, their motivation for<br />

working or volunteering in the sector, what role they played<br />

and how it impacted them and those around them.<br />

THE GOAL<br />

Specifically, the study aims to:<br />

• Understand the impact of direct and indirect exposure<br />

to the 2019-20 bushfire events on the wellbeing and<br />

resilience of emergency service personnel<br />

• Assess the need for, and use of, support and support<br />

services<br />

• Identify factors associated with resilience and effective<br />

coping, and<br />

• Determine the best strategies to build resilience and<br />

protect mental wellbeing<br />

The main focus will be to provide timely information to<br />

organisations and the volunteer community to aid in future<br />

preparedness, response and recovery efforts. The study<br />

data will provide a comprehensive picture of the impacts<br />

of the 2019-20 bushfires. This information will help us<br />

to understand what is needed to effectively support the<br />

long-term wellbeing of our volunteer and paid emergency<br />

service personnel, and how to foster their resilience and<br />

ability to cope both now and into the future.<br />

This research will build on the groundbreaking study,<br />

‘Answering the Call: the first National Mental Health and<br />

Wellbeing Study of Emergency Services’, which surveyed<br />

more than 21,000 first responders, including more than<br />

5,000 rural fire service and SES volunteers.<br />

More Information<br />

For more information, or to participate in the focus groups<br />

or interviews, please contact Sharon Lawn on sharon.<br />

lawn@flinders.edu.au or 0459 098 772.<br />

For more information about the online survey please<br />

contact Jenn Bartlett Jennifer.bartlett@uwa.edu.au or Anna<br />

Hunt anna.hunt@uwa.edu.au or call (08) 6488 3631.<br />

More information is also available on the website<br />

www.uwa.edu.au/projects/after-the-fires<br />

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AUTHOR:<br />

Radhiya Fanham<br />

Bushfire and Natural<br />

Hazards CRC


YOU WOULDN’T DRIVE<br />

INTO A BUSHFIRE,<br />

SO WHY DRIVE INTO<br />

FLOODWATER?<br />

New research is delving into why people enter<br />

floodwater and what can be done to change this risky<br />

behaviour.<br />

It is widely agreed that entering floodwater, whether<br />

by foot or in a vehicle, is highly risky. There is<br />

usually little to no visibility of what is underneath<br />

the surface of floodwater, and even seemingly shallow,<br />

moderate flowing waters can sweep a person off their<br />

feet or cause a vehicle to lose control.<br />

Globally, floods are the highest cause of fatalities<br />

from natural hazards, and the second highest in<br />

Australia, so it makes sense that plenty of flood risk<br />

communication campaigns have been instituted over<br />

the years. The question is: are they effective?<br />

Associate Professor Melanie Taylor, Occupational<br />

Psychologist at Macquarie University and lead<br />

researcher of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC<br />

Flood risk communication project, said that while<br />

previous research has identified the reasons behind<br />

flood fatalities, not enough research has investigated<br />

the behavioural aspect of entering floodwater.<br />

The project commenced in July 2017 to develop an<br />

understanding of the motivations, beliefs, decisionmaking<br />

processes and information needs of at-risk<br />

groups for flood fatalities. State Emergency Services<br />

(SES) from around Australia have worked closely with<br />

the research team from the onset of the project, with<br />

a particular interest in the behaviours of their own<br />

personnel when it comes to risk taking and driving<br />

into floodwater, as well as their attitudes to the public<br />

entering floodwater.


Community Capability Coordinator<br />

at the New South Wales SES, Mr<br />

Joshua McLaren, said the changing<br />

climate requires new and improved<br />

communication strategies.<br />

“What we’ve started to understand in<br />

a changing climate is that we really<br />

need to shift gears to think about<br />

how we change the paradigm around<br />

how we operate with communities,”<br />

Mr McLaren said.<br />

“If we have really effective<br />

communication with members of our<br />

community, we can potentially save<br />

thousands of people through one<br />

action.”<br />

DEFINING THE MESSAGE<br />

In the early stages of the project, the<br />

research team worked in consultation<br />

with the NSW SES to develop a<br />

working definition of floodwater on<br />

roads to provide a clear idea of what<br />

is being referred to in messaging<br />

about driving into floodwater. This<br />

was defined as an environment<br />

where:<br />

• water is across the road surface<br />

• there is little to no visibility of the<br />

road surface markings under the<br />

water (i.e. uncertainty of the road<br />

quality/integrity and possibly<br />

depth)<br />

• there is water on normally dry<br />

land – either flowing or still.<br />

As a psychologist, A/Prof Taylor<br />

considered human nature in the<br />

reasons why one might enter<br />

floodwater despite the clear warnings<br />

and communications against it. One<br />

of the possible hypotheses, she<br />

said, was that people are just not<br />

engaging with the messaging and that<br />

is why they are continuing to enter<br />

floodwater.<br />

“We have looked at how both<br />

SES personnel and the public<br />

conceptualise floods to try to gain<br />

insights into why people might<br />

be rejecting or dismissing the<br />

messaging,” A/Prof Taylor explained.<br />

“If someone sees an advert that<br />

shows deep, flowing water that’s<br />

clearly dangerous, that’s the image<br />

they have of what floodwater is in<br />

the context of not to drive through<br />

it. However, when they come across<br />

water that looks quite benign, they<br />

might not see that as ‘floodwater’ and<br />

therefore, feel the message doesn’t<br />

apply.”<br />

Mr McLaren said communicating the<br />

risk of driving into floodwater is a<br />

particular challenge.<br />

“Disasters aren’t something that<br />

people deal with every day,” he said.<br />

“The challenge for emergency<br />

services, and this is where Mel and<br />

the team’s work is so important, is<br />

how do we effectively engage people<br />

when they are so busy with their<br />

own lives, and how do we utilise<br />

communication and messaging to<br />

engage people who have never<br />

experienced the risk?”<br />

BEHAVIOUR<br />

To look at the extent to which<br />

entering floodwater is influenced<br />

by behaviour, the research team<br />

conducted extensive surveys<br />

and quantitative research, which<br />

investigated the specific conditions<br />

and decision-making processes<br />

involved when people drive through<br />

floodwater.<br />

A public survey was distributed<br />

between December 2018 and January<br />

2019, which was constructed to be<br />

proportionally representative of the<br />

adult Australian general population<br />

by state, and balanced for age and<br />

gender. The survey consisted of<br />

eight main sections: driving details;<br />

demographics; experiences of<br />

entering floodwater, either on land or<br />

in flooded rivers; willingness to drive<br />

through water on roads; experience<br />

of driving into floodwater; experience<br />

of turning around in floodwater;<br />

general attitude to risks; and flood<br />

risk messages.<br />

More than half of the 2,184 survey<br />

respondents had driven through or<br />

been driven through floodwater, and<br />

ACTIVITY BEING UNDERTAKEN AT THE TIME OF DRIVING THROUGH FLOODWATER<br />

Credit: Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC<br />

31<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au


YOU WOULDN’T DRIVE<br />

INTO A BUSHFIRE,<br />

SO WHY DRIVE INTO<br />

FLOODWATER?<br />

New research is delving into why people enter<br />

floodwater and what can be done to change this risky<br />

behaviour.<br />

Damaged roads in Adelaide after the South Australia 2016 floods. Credit: South Australia State Emergency Service<br />

41% had been through floodwater on<br />

more than one occasion in the last<br />

five years.<br />

The central question is: why is it that,<br />

despite advice and warnings, people<br />

are still entering floodwater? What<br />

are they doing at the time, and why<br />

are they disregarding risk messages?<br />

By understanding what people are<br />

doing when entering floodwater, we<br />

can find additional levers to influence<br />

their behaviour and promote safety.<br />

Of the 1,167 people who reported<br />

driving into floodwater, a fifth were<br />

returning home from work and a<br />

further 17% were either on holiday,<br />

sightseeing or on a leisure drive<br />

(Figure 1). Also, the vast majority<br />

of participants (90.7%) reported<br />

that they drove through floodwater<br />

without any negative consequences.<br />

“It again speaks to behaviour that<br />

people enter floodwater fairly often,”<br />

A/Prof Taylor said.<br />

“If you do it and get away with it,<br />

there’s this idea that you don’t<br />

have to be cautious the second<br />

and third time, especially if it’s the<br />

same location. However, it can be<br />

quite a different situation every time<br />

and there could be a lot of danger<br />

underneath in terms of obstructions.<br />

You wouldn’t drive into a bushfire, so<br />

why drive into floodwater?”<br />

The majority of contexts in which<br />

people drove into floodwater related<br />

to common or mundane situations<br />

or activities and were therefore<br />

not about ‘urgent’ or high-stakes<br />

situations. Many people indicated<br />

that they had carefully considered<br />

the situation. This suggests that<br />

decision-making is not sudden or<br />

impulsive and means there is still an<br />

opportunity to influence the decisionmaking<br />

process.<br />

CHALLENGING THE HIGH-RISK<br />

BEHAVIOURS<br />

“The theory tells us that to get<br />

people to take protective behaviour,<br />

in this case, not to drive through<br />

floodwaters, the first thing is that<br />

more needs to be done to make it<br />

clear that there is a risk, especially<br />

with more benign situations,” A/Prof<br />

Taylor said.<br />

“Past behaviour often predicts future<br />

behaviours, so we need to modify risk<br />

communication and influence risk<br />

perception. People have got to know<br />

that it’s a risk to start with if we want<br />

them to engage with the messaging,<br />

and then we need to provide them<br />

with ways to manage the risk; this is a<br />

fundamental aspect.”<br />

The NSW SES is currently reviewing<br />

their messaging and flood risk<br />

management procedures to look at<br />

how they can better structure their<br />

risk messaging.<br />

“Over the last five to ten years,<br />

we really didn’t think much into<br />

the complexities of driving into<br />

floodwater,” Mr McLaren said.<br />

“Mel and the team’s work has been a<br />

trigger for us to understand that it is<br />

really complex and it’s probably time<br />

for us as an agency to go back to the<br />

table and look at how we can better<br />

structure our messaging to use<br />

behavioural insights and psychology.”<br />

In conjunction with AFAC and SES<br />

research end-users, the results of<br />

this research are now informing the<br />

co-development of a set of public<br />

communication guidelines and the<br />

establishment of a set of national<br />

community safety announcements<br />

for use by the ABC in emergency<br />

broadcasting.<br />

To find out more about this research,<br />

visit bnhcrc.com.au/research/<br />

floodriskcomms.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 32


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

DON’T WAIT TIL A DISASTER TO<br />

PARAMEDIC<br />

PLAN AHEAD<br />

TIME TO TEACH<br />

STUDENTS THE REALITIES<br />

OF RAMPING<br />

Tammie Bullard is a registered<br />

paramedic and writer based<br />

in Western Australia. Author of<br />

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

Paramedic<br />

Ramping is real, and the sooner we set our students up for<br />

success in navigating this new way of working, the better.<br />

• Educate them to expect long hours in limbo.<br />

• Train them to titrate treatment over extended periods.<br />

• Give them guidelines to let them meet the standards we’d like<br />

to see.<br />

Priorities are changing in prehospital<br />

care, with many paramedics now<br />

questioning career commitment for<br />

the future. In years gone by, joining the<br />

world of emergency medical services<br />

meant a high turnover of patients,<br />

among a daily mix of unpredictable<br />

emergencies. Part of the allure was in<br />

expecting the unexpected.<br />

The medically minded individuals<br />

seeking ongoing patient contact<br />

found a vocation in medicine, mental<br />

health, nursing, midwifery and allied<br />

health professions. Those drawn<br />

towards more mobile, emergent,<br />

autonomous roles found their place in<br />

paramedicine.<br />

Over time, training and education have<br />

improved skillsets and knowledge. The<br />

job has become more challenging and<br />

enthralling in its demand for increased<br />

intervention. New recruits are enticed<br />

by opportunities to provide ever higher<br />

standards of emergency care. They<br />

dedicate years and deepening debt to<br />

the academic qualifications required.<br />

Student applications to universities<br />

and employers continue to arrive<br />

in droves. National industry insight<br />

reporting from the Australian Industry<br />

and Skills Committee suggests that, in<br />

2019 alone, Australia wide, there were<br />

over 4,500 enrolments in ambulance<br />

and paramedic qualifications. AHPRA’s<br />

2019/20 annual report outlines a<br />

14.5% increase in the number of<br />

registered paramedics, over the<br />

preceding year, to almost 20,000.<br />

It’s a fantastic career that can be<br />

extremely rewarding, so these figures<br />

make sense. But with so many new<br />

clinicians joining our ranks, how<br />

realistic are their expectations and how<br />

well suited will they be to the current<br />

way of working? The “hurry up and<br />

wait” approach that we’re not preparing<br />

them for.<br />

Recruitment campaigns by employers<br />

and educational institutions promote<br />

the frontline focus. Lifesaving skills;<br />

prehospital paramedicine; clinical<br />

challenges; emergency response;<br />

community-based roles and making a<br />

difference every day. Corporate social<br />

media feeds are full of inspirational<br />

stories, lives saved, and good deeds<br />

done. Television screens cover cardiac<br />

arrests, motor vehicle collisions, babies<br />

being born and all the feel-good factors<br />

that drive us to dedicate every effort, in<br />

an attempt to join this job. Of course all<br />

of this still exists, but there’s so much<br />

that they need to know.<br />

We train them to drive using lights and<br />

sirens, so they can respond rapidly<br />

to patient emergencies and meet key<br />

performance indicators on arrival. We<br />

educate them in anatomy, physiology,<br />

pathophysiology, pharmacology, mental<br />

health emergencies, social studies,<br />

determinants of health, epidemics,<br />

pandemics, ethics, documentation<br />

legalities, interprofessional<br />

collaboration and more. We equip<br />

them with a growing collection of skills<br />

to include everything from basic life<br />

support, right through to advanced<br />

care. We teach them to use this<br />

education in recognising disease states<br />

for urgent intervention on scene, and<br />

timely transport aimed at improving<br />

patient outcomes. But what are we<br />

teaching them about the realities of<br />

care during several hours of ramping,<br />

stacking, waiting or wall time?<br />

No matter how much we want to treat<br />

this issue as a temporary problem, the<br />

very existence of these well-known<br />

colloquialisms for the holding pattern<br />

that gridlocks our ambulances indicates<br />

otherwise. Even the term “corridor<br />

care” frequently features in journal<br />

articles, and evidence repeatedly<br />

demonstrates that ramping has been<br />

a painful reality, in Australia, since the<br />

early 2000’s. (See web-based article for<br />

references.)<br />

Adopting everything that we have<br />

learned over this past 20 years of<br />

waiting in line provides an ideal<br />

33<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au


opportunity to educate and inform.<br />

The more we begin to focus<br />

recruitment and training on the “new”<br />

realities of paramedicine, the more our<br />

patients and our profession stand to<br />

gain.<br />

• Graduates will be well versed<br />

and educated in risks associated<br />

with ramping, and the proactive<br />

measures they can take to<br />

address patient comfort, care and<br />

safety.<br />

• Their knowledge will naturally<br />

spread throughout a workforce<br />

highly trained in emergencies,<br />

but with minimal background in<br />

hospital-based procedural care.<br />

• Guidelines and protocols for<br />

corridor care can be structured<br />

purposefully, just like chest pain,<br />

childbirth, and choking have been<br />

in the past.<br />

• These clear procedures can<br />

inform every paramedic, intern,<br />

nurse, doctor and patient care<br />

provider of the expectations and<br />

responsibilities on ambulance<br />

staff.<br />

• New recruits form realistic<br />

expectations, rather than hit the<br />

ground running with high hopes<br />

of non-stop action, destined to<br />

disappoint.<br />

• Retention rates may increase,<br />

and those satisfied students may<br />

stay long enough to develop fresh<br />

ideas for fighting ramping in the<br />

future.<br />

• Formally adopting the issue into<br />

academia encourages evidencebased<br />

research and access to the<br />

untapped resources that specific<br />

studies may reveal.<br />

Nobody expects ambulance services<br />

or educators to take ownership of<br />

ramping; it’s a multi-faceted problem<br />

that calls for a multi-faceted solution.<br />

But we can, as an industry, take<br />

ownership of our recruits. The onus of<br />

responsibility is on all of us in preparing<br />

them to provide their best in patient<br />

care, be it on scene, en route or on the<br />

ramp.<br />

As paramedics we take pride in our<br />

ability to manage patients no matter<br />

where we find them. Why not add<br />

corridor care scenarios, guidelines and<br />

assessments to the curriculum?<br />

For more articles and “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Paramedic” book series,<br />

head to gbuparamedic.com or follow @gbuparamedic on social media<br />

@gbuparamedic<br />

@gbuparamedic<br />

@gbuparamedic<br />

Tammie Bullard<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 34


AUSTRALIAN-FIRST OMCG<br />

EXIT AND PREVENTION<br />

PROGRAM LAUNCHED<br />

Minister for Police and Corrective<br />

Services and Minister for Fire and<br />

Emergency Services, the Honourable<br />

Mark Ryan MP, joined Commissioner<br />

Katarina Carroll to officially launch<br />

Australia’s first exit program for<br />

former outlaw motorcycle gang<br />

members wanting a lasting way out<br />

of gang life.<br />

The Exit Program launch coincided<br />

with the release of two videos<br />

revealing the truth about associating<br />

with OMCGs as told by former gang<br />

members and families.<br />

The former outlaw motorcycle gang<br />

members featured in the videos tell<br />

how they and their families continue<br />

to live with the consequences of their<br />

choice to join a gang. The message<br />

they both share is, you wouldn’t join<br />

a gang if you knew the truth.<br />

Commissioner Carroll said these<br />

personal accounts expose the reality<br />

of life inside these criminal networks<br />

and the devastating impacts on<br />

families.<br />

“Police regularly see the terrible<br />

personal outcomes for people drawn<br />

into these gangs, and those featured<br />

in the video chose to participate<br />

because they want to highlight to<br />

others the effect gang membership<br />

has had on their health, families and<br />

future,” Commissioner Carroll said.<br />

“For many ex-gang members, staying<br />

out of gangs and criminal activity is<br />

influenced by a range of factors and<br />

motivators, which individuals find<br />

difficult. It is these factors the Exit<br />

Program are trying to address in<br />

order to reduce gang-related crime<br />

and the harm it causes families and<br />

communities.<br />

The Exit Program is an initiative of<br />

the Queensland Police Service and<br />

Queensland Corrective Services<br />

for adult ex-gang members in<br />

Queensland to access tailored<br />

support services including drug<br />

and alcohol issues, employment<br />

and training, mentoring, family<br />

relationships and mental health.<br />

While QPS acts as a referrer, the<br />

program is delivered and managed<br />

through community organisations<br />

and alongside government partners.<br />

Minister Ryan commended police for<br />

their innovative thinking in deterring<br />

gang recruitment while staying tough<br />

on OMCG activity.<br />

“Police are continuing to use the<br />

Queensland Government’s tough<br />

laws to target and disrupt criminal<br />

networks and OMCG offenders,”<br />

Minister Ryan said.<br />

“Now, through the Exit Program and<br />

the prevention videos, police are<br />

expanding their focus on exposing<br />

the truth of gang membership<br />

delivered by ex-gang members<br />

themselves and providing a pathway<br />

from gangs.<br />

“It is an opportunity for gang<br />

members to change the course of<br />

their life and their families.<br />

“The Exit Program is an Australianfirst<br />

and in fact the first of its kind in<br />

the Southern Hemisphere, backed by<br />

research that highlights the potential<br />

for these programs to reduce rates<br />

of re-offending.”<br />

Australian Federal Police (AFP)<br />

National Anti-Gangs Squad (NAGS)<br />

Detective Acting Superintendent<br />

Jason McArthur said the AFP-led<br />

NAGS was a strong supporter of<br />

the new program, with the initiative<br />

providing a positive solution for<br />

OMCG members and their loved<br />

ones to escape the reach of these<br />

dangerous gangs.<br />

“OMCGs are criminal gangs<br />

motivated by greed and these videos<br />

pull back the curtain and reveal the<br />

harsh reality of membership and<br />

association with these gangs using<br />

the stories of real people,” Detective<br />

Acting Superintendent McArthur<br />

said.<br />

For more information, visit https://<br />

www.police.qld.gov.au/initiatives/<br />

omcg-exit-program.


The town of Tarnagulla. Credit: Linda Jungwirth<br />

DISASTER SEASON IS HERE — DO YOU<br />

HAVE A RESILIENCE ACTION PLAN?<br />

How the small town of Tarnagulla built theirs<br />

Mittul Vahanvati<br />

Lecturer, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies,<br />

RMIT University<br />

Heatwaves, floods, bushfires:<br />

disaster season is upon us again.<br />

We can’t prevent hazards or climate<br />

change-related extreme weather<br />

events but we can prepare for them<br />

— not just as individuals but as a<br />

community.<br />

One way to do that is develop what is<br />

known as a resilience action plan, or<br />

RAP.<br />

A RAP is a way for communities<br />

(be they school-based, profession-<br />

based, or neighbourhood-based) to<br />

collectively assess their strengths<br />

and weaknesses ahead of coming<br />

disasters, identify priorities and build<br />

an implementation strategy.<br />

Recent work with Tarnagulla — a<br />

small town that sits in a bushfire and<br />

heatwave-prone part of rural Victoria<br />

— offers an example. The community<br />

got together, applied for funding and<br />

co-produced with me (Mittul Vahanvati)<br />

a tailor-made RAP for their town.<br />

Their example highlights how small<br />

scale, grass roots action trumps<br />

waiting around for large scale, topdown<br />

climate action to shape our<br />

future.<br />

The Tarnagulla story<br />

Tarnagulla is about 180 kilometres<br />

north west of Melbourne, and 40<br />

kilometres west of Bendigo. Its<br />

population and economic prospects<br />

boomed during the 1850s goldrush,<br />

but by the 2016 Census, its population<br />

37<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au


had dwindled to just 133 people with a<br />

median age of 61.<br />

The town relies on agriculture and<br />

animal husbandry, but faces myriad<br />

challenges, including:<br />

• deteriorating Federation-era<br />

buildings, such as churches and<br />

community halls, with about 30%<br />

of houses unoccupied<br />

• poor transport infrastructure,<br />

including crumbling roads, only<br />

one bus stop, a bus that goes<br />

once a week to Bendigo<br />

• declining economic activity, with<br />

just one hotel, one post office and<br />

little to attract visitors<br />

• growing risk from storms,<br />

droughts and bushfires<br />

• a vulnerable population, with<br />

approximately 60-70% people<br />

living from pension to pension<br />

• limited access to health care<br />

facilities<br />

• insecure power and water<br />

infrastructure.<br />

The town is at risk of disappearing.<br />

Its people face real danger when fire,<br />

heatwaves or other natural hazards<br />

strike and there’s precious little<br />

disposable income to spend on futureproofing<br />

homes.<br />

The trajectory for Tarnagulla is not<br />

unusual in Victoria. Determined<br />

to save it from being engulfed by<br />

climate-change related disasters,<br />

the community applied for and got a<br />

grant from the Victorian Department<br />

of Environment, Land, Water and<br />

Planning, through their Virtual Centre<br />

for Climate Change Innovation.<br />

They used part of the money to<br />

engage one of the authors (Mittul<br />

Vahanvati), to co-produce a RAP for<br />

and by Tarnagulla community.<br />

Increasingly frequent and harsher<br />

heatwaves, bushfires and droughts<br />

We held eight workshops over two<br />

years in Tarnagulla, with project<br />

leaders from the local community<br />

meeting me (Mittul Vahanvati) monthly.<br />

Establishing mutual trust and a sense<br />

of collaborative design was crucial; the<br />

process doesn’t work when an outsider<br />

parachutes in and starts telling locals<br />

what to do.<br />

We identified the town’s existing<br />

strengths (outlined in the table below).<br />

We also talked about how climate<br />

change-related disasters — such as<br />

increasingly frequent and harsher<br />

heatwaves, bushfires and droughts —<br />

were causing problems locally such as<br />

• power outages becoming longer<br />

and more frequent<br />

• the soaring cost of keeping the<br />

house cool<br />

• concerns the dam might burst in<br />

a flood<br />

• people going without water for<br />

five days in previous disasters<br />

and being forced to buy water to<br />

survive.<br />

The resulting RAP identified five main<br />

goals. These can be seen in the table<br />

on the following page.<br />

Local councillors, and representatives<br />

from the emergency management<br />

sector and the health sector got<br />

together to test out the RAP, its<br />

feasibility and whether it would help<br />

reduce loss and devastation of town<br />

during hazards.<br />

It became clear a complete emergency<br />

evacuation plan would require<br />

the town having a safer shelter,<br />

improving key roads used to flee the<br />

town and ensuring comprehensive<br />

communication systems to help<br />

vulnerable people (such as older<br />

people, children or single people)<br />

during a disaster.<br />

The town also identified the need for<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 38


5 MAIN GOALS IDENTIFIED BY RAP<br />

a change in mindset about risk, and<br />

better communication via social media.<br />

The local Landcare group also resolved<br />

to raise awareness abut conserving<br />

and developing drought-tolerant<br />

species.<br />

What were some of the concrete<br />

outcomes?<br />

The resulting resilience action plan<br />

was endorsed by the Tarnagulla<br />

community and launched in<br />

September 2020. Now, the town is<br />

working towards implementing it.<br />

Thanks to the RAP, Tarnagulla was<br />

selected for a feasibility study looking<br />

at using a microgrid to deliver reliable<br />

and affordable energy, and assess<br />

whether the town would survive<br />

network faults due to extreme<br />

weather.<br />

Many households invested or are<br />

investing in generators, solar panels,<br />

battery bank and ways to cool their<br />

house ahead of coming heatwaves,<br />

due to awareness gained during<br />

workshops.<br />

Another win, separate but<br />

complimentary to the RAP is the<br />

Tarnagulla Primary School hall being<br />

retrofitted to serve as a community<br />

heatwave and bushfire safe shelter.<br />

The school has provided out-ofhours<br />

school access for members<br />

of the local community who have<br />

nowhere else to shelter when fires or<br />

heatwaves strike.<br />

The resilience action plan was endorsed by the Tarnagulla community in September 2020. Photo Credit: Mittul Vahanvati<br />

The school community also raised<br />

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Determined to save the town from being engulfed by climate-change related disaster, Tarnagulla applied for and got a grant from the Victorian Department of Environment, Land,<br />

Water and Planning to build a RAP. Photo credit: Linda Jungwirth<br />

funds to install a 12.6kW solar<br />

system, with a goal of making the<br />

school energy independent during<br />

power outages or heatwaves.<br />

The process of RAP also built<br />

confidence and skills in community<br />

members, some of whom have since<br />

been elected in the local council or<br />

part of the planning committees.<br />

There, they are in a much stronger<br />

position to push for urgent capital<br />

works to improve footpaths, public<br />

toilets and shops and support<br />

retrofitting of homes.<br />

There is still plenty to be done, much<br />

of it needing extra funding (and<br />

as is the case everywhere, COVID<br />

has hindered progress). But now<br />

the town has a clear, communityendorsed<br />

plan to protect lives and<br />

properties and enable citizens to<br />

transition towards a resilient future.<br />

Disaster resilience requires<br />

collective action<br />

Much of the discourse around<br />

emergency preparedness focuses on<br />

individual preparedness, which puts<br />

the financial and physical burden<br />

on each person to “be ready” when<br />

disaster strikes. In reality, collective<br />

action is required.<br />

As one participant told us,<br />

“We have realised that we are not<br />

alone in facing the present and<br />

anticipated challenges. There are new<br />

opportunities on the horizon to work<br />

together with other communities and<br />

projects.”<br />

If we want to prepare for uncertain<br />

futures, each one of us should<br />

consider building a RAP with our<br />

community.<br />

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

Conversation”<br />

Rare and Beautiful, Gemstones<br />

and Crystals, Exhibition and Sales<br />

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TRAVEL<br />

EMERGENCY<br />

Breaks<br />

In the hopes that as this<br />

article goes to print, Western<br />

Australia would have opened<br />

back up again and once<br />

again allows its state locals<br />

and interstate visitors the<br />

pleasure of immersing<br />

themselves in its beauty,<br />

we’ve decided to remain ever<br />

optimistic and focus on the<br />

wonder of Margaret River this<br />

month.<br />

While travel may be forever<br />

changed, one thing that<br />

hasn’t is searching for a<br />

great location for your next<br />

Emergency Break!<br />

Words: Brooke Turnbull<br />

The mouth of the Margaret River, flowing into the Indian Ocean


Location:<br />

Margaret River is located in the<br />

bottom corner of Western Australia,<br />

and is an easy drive of about three<br />

and half hours from Perth. There is<br />

also the Busselton Margaret River<br />

Airport that has daily flights from<br />

Perth and is about to launch direct<br />

flights from Melbourne into the area.<br />

This region is obviously famous for<br />

its wineries and has some of the best<br />

that Australia has to offer in regards<br />

to wine. However, Margaret River has<br />

plenty to offer for those that don’t<br />

enjoy a drop and once you’ve visited,<br />

you’ll find yourself wanting to come<br />

back again and again.<br />

Places to Stay:<br />

Margaret River has a wealth of places<br />

to stay while you enjoy your time in<br />

the region. Often comfortable and<br />

homely, with friendly and welcoming<br />

locals, there is an abundance of<br />

excellent accommodation to choose<br />

from depending on what you fancy.<br />

As is our usual way, we’ve chosen<br />

a budget, mid-range and high-end<br />

option to make this decision a little<br />

easier for you.<br />

Bridgefield Guest House is a place<br />

of serenity in the Margaret River<br />

area, and yet still located only about<br />

10 minutes’ walk from the absolute<br />

centre of town. Its cosy, vintage<br />

interior and stunning views of the<br />

greenery surrounding it make it<br />

especially perfect for couples looking<br />

for a romantic getaway.<br />

option. And what a place to hang our<br />

hats!<br />

The Margaret River region is a wine lovers paradise with over 150 vineyards<br />

The Chalet’s start from $<strong>22</strong>5 per night<br />

in low season and offer a peaceful<br />

forest refuge away from the hustle<br />

and bustle of modern life.<br />

Each chalet has a fully equipped<br />

modern kitchen, electric blankets<br />

and private BBQ and some offer<br />

incredible wood fireplaces to curl<br />

up and enjoy an excellent book.<br />

Definitely our kind of holiday! Set on 7<br />

acres of forest, the Riverglen Chalets<br />

are still only a 10 minute walk into<br />

town and only 15 minutes away from<br />

over 150 vineyards, 80 wineries and<br />

70 restaurants and gourmet cafes<br />

that the Margaret River region boasts.<br />

Without doubt, if you’re looking for<br />

a mid-range budget but you’ve got<br />

high-end tastes then the Riverglen<br />

Chalets are for you. And if you’re<br />

lucky enough to visit in summer,<br />

when the sun is shining and the<br />

region is glowing with that summer<br />

feeling then the azure blue waters<br />

of Gnarabup Beach is only a 12<br />

kilometers away. But if you want our<br />

suggestion, go in winter, light the fire<br />

and remember to pack some good<br />

books and gorge on some excellent<br />

The heritage feeling that the property<br />

has, as well as the privacy that it<br />

offers are particularly popular with its<br />

guests. Starting from the extremely<br />

reasonable $120 per night in low<br />

season, this property is a stellar place<br />

to begin your Margaret River journey<br />

in.<br />

Check in to your room that offers<br />

heating/air conditioning, free Wi-Fi<br />

and private facilities and relax in the<br />

shared log fire room enjoying your<br />

perfect Margaret River wine. Some<br />

of the rooms at the Bridgefield also<br />

have spa baths, so soak to your<br />

hearts content while you unwind on<br />

your perfect retreat from the world.<br />

Riverglen Chalet’s are where we’re<br />

hanging our hat for the mid-range<br />

The famous Busselton Jetty at sunset


wine for us while you’re there.<br />

The Losari Retreat is our final accommodation<br />

suggestion, and you best believe that starting at a cool<br />

$672 per night in low season this is our high-end pick.<br />

But is the money worth it? We definitely think so!<br />

With luxurious apartments that come with a fully<br />

equipped kitchen (including a cappuccino machine, yes<br />

please!), hot tubs and rain showers the Losari Retreat<br />

really isn’t to be beat if you’re looking for something<br />

truly special.<br />

Riverglen Chalet’s set on 7 acres and only ten minutes to town<br />

It’s set on 66 acres and is bordered by National Park<br />

which means, if you’re not too busy imbibing you can<br />

put on your boots and hike on site. It’s a 10 minute<br />

drive from the town centre and a 20 minute drive to<br />

Prevelley Beach. With access to all that the Margaret<br />

River region has to offer along with total luxury, you’ll<br />

never want to leave.<br />

Things to do:<br />

At its core, Margaret River is a wine driven region,<br />

and with over 80 wineries to choose from it’s nearly<br />

impossible for us to decide where to tell you to go,<br />

except to say try to go to all of them.<br />

What can we say, we really love wine at Australian<br />

Emergency Service Magazine! So, with that out of<br />

the way, let’s have a look at some places that aren’t<br />

wineries but are no less special.<br />

The Jewel Cave. Look, we’re not saying that Western<br />

Australia have to do everything better, but sometimes<br />

it just happens that way. In the case of the Jewel Cave,<br />

with three massive chambers of crystal-encrusted<br />

beauty, this is definitely true.<br />

With incredible natural examples of delicate helectites,<br />

cave coral and pendulites, as well as its famous large<br />

stalagmite “Karri Forest”, and flowstone such as “The<br />

Frozen Waterfall” and “The Organ-pipes” the Jewel Cave<br />

appeals to the geologist in all of us.<br />

The magestic Jewel Cave with its delicate helectites, cave coral and pendulites.<br />

The Jewel Cave will transport you back to those<br />

moments from childhood when a rock found on the<br />

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each could render you speechless with wonder. Fully<br />

guided tours of the caves come in at $<strong>22</strong>.50 for adults<br />

and $11.50 for kids.<br />

Koomal Dreaming offers the opportunity for visitors<br />

to experience the country through the eyes of the<br />

traditional owners of the land, the Widandi and<br />

Bibbulman peoples.<br />

This tour walks you through the country and allows<br />

you to experience native foods, bush medicine<br />

and traditional fire lighting, all of which are unique<br />

experiences to this land. The tour is operated by<br />

Wadandi custodian, Josh “Koomal” Whiteland, who<br />

brings you on an incredible journey through stories<br />

of the Dreaming, as well as the intensely memorable<br />

didgeridoo cave experience within the Ngilgi Cave.<br />

The tours start from $65 for adults, and will provide an<br />

experience you’re not likely to forget.<br />

If you’re looking for a way to entertain the kids for the<br />

day, or you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie yourself then<br />

we’ve found the activity for you. The Forest Adventures<br />

South West park offers a high rope adventure course like<br />

no other.<br />

Indulge at The Losari Retreat, set on 66 acres bordered by National Park<br />

With 77 activities spread over 6 courses, it’s sure to get<br />

your blood pumping and your hands sweating…if you’re<br />

into that sort of thing. You’ll find us at the wineries,<br />

thanks! Still who are we to judge? And with courses of<br />

varying height and difficulty there’s something for the<br />

whole family to be able to enjoy this adventure park<br />

safely and with the maximum fun you can have hanging<br />

off a rope in the middle of a forest.<br />

High ropes and flying foxes will have you dizzy with<br />

exhilaration and prices start from $44 per adult and $36<br />

per child.<br />

So whether you’re looking for an adventure filled holiday<br />

getting back to nature, or if you’re happier curling up<br />

near the fire with a good book and an even better glass<br />

of wine, Margaret River is the place for you. Local or<br />

interstate travellers can enjoy the best that this area has<br />

to offer, all that we ask is that you have a glass of wine<br />

for us.<br />

The Forest Adventures South West park for a high rope adventure<br />

SERVICES:<br />

DIRECTIONAL DRILLING<br />

PIT & PIPE<br />

CABLE HAULING<br />

CABLE LAYING<br />

TRENCHING<br />

EXCAVATION & CONSTRUCTION<br />

EARTHWORKS<br />

SITEWORKS<br />

UNDERGROUND UTILITIES<br />

POLYWELDING<br />

PLANT HIRE<br />

SERVICING THE MINING, ENERGY, OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY<br />

www.tielemanexcavation.com.au haydn@tielemanexcavation.com.au 0400 502 695<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 44


IN THE SPOTLIGHT<br />

In each edition of the Australian Emergency Services Magazine we<br />

feature a profile on a person, team, partnership, squad or unit<br />

to showcase their unique contribution to the emergency services<br />

industry. If you would like to be featured or know someone who<br />

deserves some recognition get in touch with our team.<br />

THE SES WA<br />

MOUNTED SECTION<br />

The WASES Mounted Section was formed in August 1987 by<br />

Dave Emery, a member of the Armadale SES Unit. It is the<br />

only mounted section unit in the SES. Early in 1988 Dave<br />

Emery recruited a Training Officer, Helen Iles, who officially<br />

joined the Service in February and commenced to develop<br />

training suitable for mounted personnel and implemented a<br />

training programme and leadership structure for the Unit.<br />

In early 1997, the Unit was approached to assist with<br />

the equestrian activities for the International Tattoo and<br />

commenced selecting and training horses for the Kings<br />

Troop Royal Horse Artillery and the Royal British Armoury.<br />

This training continued for six months and culminated in a<br />

month of working with the British contingent and taking a<br />

role as safety riders and handlers for the whole of the event.<br />

This included riding roles as Squires and unmounted roles of<br />

Crash Team members and grooms. This was a major highlight<br />

of the Mounted Section’s non-operational activities.<br />

In 2001 the Unit was handed the role of Animal Evacuation<br />

and commenced training SES volunteers from across the<br />

In 1991, after several searches in which the Mounted Section<br />

were involved, it was decided the Unit should become a<br />

Regional Resource and was taken over by Metro Region.<br />

Helen Iles was nominated by the Unit for the position of Local<br />

Manager, and was appointed to the position by WASES in<br />

April 1990.<br />

In the early years the Units meetings were held in hotels and<br />

members houses while training took place at various venues.<br />

The Unit’s first official search was in February that year, at<br />

Araluen, searching for Susan Elliot, an abducted schoolgirl.<br />

Requests for the Mounted Section started to flood in,<br />

including requests for displays and attending parades. The<br />

Unit was invited to attend the Rockingham Anzac Parade,<br />

which continues to the current day. Many musical displays<br />

have been performed over the years, from Emergency Expos<br />

to the Night of Stars.<br />

Anzac Day Parade Rockingham<br />

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Units. The Unit was a joint winner in the National Safety<br />

Awards, in the Pre-Disaster Category, along with Animal<br />

Emergency Group counterparts RSPCA and WA Rangers<br />

Association.<br />

Until the Introduction of ESL funding in 2001 The Mounted<br />

Section was strictly self-funded. Apart from some help with<br />

courses and the purchase of radios the Unit had to raise its<br />

own capital to function. Doing pony rides, selling chocolates,<br />

assisting at Skyshow and any other opportunity that arose,<br />

raised money. Since the introduction the Unit has been<br />

provided with an annual budget to assist in its running costs.<br />

The Unit Budget is part of the Metropolitan Region Budget.<br />

In 2001 thanks to Unit fundraising, applications for grants<br />

and considerable lobbying and hard work by the then Local<br />

Manager, Helen Iles, the Unit obtained its first vehicle.<br />

Over the years the Unit’s profile has evolved from simply<br />

being a specialist search unit to include responsibility<br />

for management of the SES Animal Rescue Unit and the<br />

provision of operational support to Region and other units<br />

during hazards such as storms, cyclones, floods and fires.<br />

The uniform for the horses. Image: Facebook<br />

Helen Iles writes of the joy of being a part of the SES<br />

mounted section,<br />

“From a mounted member who has been in the Unit since its<br />

conception, it means a whole range of things – it means ‘serving<br />

your community’, and what better way to do it than from the<br />

back of your horse. It means ‘taking on a commitment’ but<br />

that commitment is made easy and enjoyable because you are<br />

committing your time with like-minded people, and the horsey<br />

fraternity do gather together like a herd. It means ‘making a<br />

lot of friendships’. You cannot help that with the wonderful<br />

group of people who join the Unit, and we bond probably more<br />

strongly because of the work we do and knowing the sort of<br />

things we are likely to encounter in our role of searcher, so we<br />

support each other wholeheartedly, and we enjoy our horses and<br />

riding without the need to be competitive. It means ‘having fun’.<br />

Although the role we take on is one of vital importance (I mean,<br />

it’s not every day you get called out to go and save someone’s life,<br />

which in effect is exactly what we do) being a mounted member<br />

can bring many unforgettable memories and experiences that<br />

you most likely wouldn’t get elsewhere.”<br />

Horse and Rider assessment<br />

In 2005 the Unit was challenged to prove its value to FESA<br />

in roles other than Search and Rescue. A thorough review<br />

of the Units skills, functions and members commitment was<br />

held and the Unit was able to outline how it could expand<br />

its support roles in area for which FESA was the Hazard<br />

Management Authority as well as its specialist Search and<br />

Rescue role.<br />

The WASES Mounted Unit has a wealth of information about<br />

training, duties and criteria for horses on their website. They<br />

also have a great Facebook page where you can follow the<br />

amazing work they do and check out the beautiful horses<br />

that belong to this unique team.<br />

Thanks to the SES WA Mounted Section webpage for<br />

information and images.<br />

www.seswamountedsection.com<br />

The mounted section of the SES is such a unique unit to be<br />

a part of. Mounted section members must have their own<br />

horse and have gone through the normal SES training as any<br />

other member. They must be proficient riders as the unit can<br />

be called to all sorts of terrain. The horses themselves have<br />

to meet quite a criteria in order to be accepted into the unit.<br />

The age, breed and temperament of the horse are extremely<br />

important. Horses must be fit enough to withstand all terrain<br />

and long hours. They must be able to be led easily, work<br />

alongside other horses and not be affected by such things as<br />

helicopters flying overhead or cars alongside.<br />

Missing Person Search in Midland 2019


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<br />

THEY<br />

TRIPLE<br />

OK?<br />

We’re always there to help.<br />

Let’s make sure we help each other and ask R U OK?<br />

ruok.org.au/triple-ok

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