AESM Vol 26, ISSUE 5 2021

The latest Australian Emergency Services Magazine Vol 26 Issue 5 2021. The latest in emergency services news and events. Storm season and bushfire season are upon us, in preparation for upcoming disaster season have a look at preparing peer support programs within your organisation. We also look at diversity within the emergency services. Regular columnists Associate Professor Erin-Cotter Smith with Let's Talk Mental Health and Dr Michael Eburn for all things Emergency Law. Bushfire Natural Hazards CRC shares the stories from cultural burning in Southern Australia. Paramedic Rasa Piggott with her column, 'On the Frontline', a closer look in to the world of paramedicine. Plus so much more, latest events, "In the Spotlight" and Emergency Breaks and our new book review column. Free to subscribe through the website www.ausemergencyservices.com.au

The latest Australian Emergency Services Magazine Vol 26 Issue 5 2021. The latest in emergency services news and events. Storm season and bushfire season are upon us, in preparation for upcoming disaster season have a look at preparing peer support programs within your organisation. We also look at diversity within the emergency services. Regular columnists Associate Professor Erin-Cotter Smith with Let's Talk Mental Health and Dr Michael Eburn for all things Emergency Law. Bushfire Natural Hazards CRC shares the stories from cultural burning in Southern Australia. Paramedic Rasa Piggott with her column, 'On the Frontline', a closer look in to the world of paramedicine. Plus so much more, latest events, "In the Spotlight" and Emergency Breaks and our new book review column. Free to subscribe through the website www.ausemergencyservices.com.au


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VOL <strong>26</strong>: <strong>ISSUE</strong> 5, <strong>2021</strong><br />

4<br />

Personality<br />

types when<br />

preparing<br />

for disaster :<br />

which one are you?<br />











WE SEE YOU<br />



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Looking after our mental health is as<br />

important as looking after our physical<br />

health. It’s ok to ask for help if you are<br />

not feeling yourself.<br />

There are some things you can do to feel<br />

better, like staying connected, being active,<br />

talking with family, friends and neighbours<br />

and making a new daily routine.<br />

Information Advice Professional Support<br />

Visit headtohealth.gov.au<br />

If you don’t speak English you can call the<br />

Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450.<br />

Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra.




FORTEM<br />


Supporting First<br />

Responder Families<br />

Celebrating the<br />

second birthday of an<br />

incredible organisation<br />

that places mental<br />

fitness, community and<br />

connection at it’s heart<br />

23<br />

Preparing Peer<br />

Support Programs<br />

Phoenix Australia and<br />

the importance of peer<br />

support programs. These<br />

programs are one way<br />

that organisations can<br />

help support the mental<br />

health of their members.<br />

11<br />


Stories of Cultural<br />

Burning in Southern<br />

Australia<br />

33<br />

Access to Emergeny<br />

Services in Remote<br />

Communities<br />

To Serve and Protect:<br />

Bringing Diversity to<br />

Emergency Services<br />

An excerpt from<br />

an essay by Trish<br />

Prentice discussing the<br />

importance of diversity in<br />

the emergency services<br />

industry and it’s role<br />

in boostin volunteer<br />

numbers.<br />

17<br />

New research-backed<br />

storytelling resources<br />

are helping fire agencies<br />

and land management<br />

departments better<br />

understand cultural<br />

burning.<br />

27<br />

Preparing for Disaster<br />

- There are 4 Types of<br />

People<br />

Research shows when it<br />

comes to getting ready for<br />

disasters, there are four<br />

types of people. And this<br />

matters, because good<br />

disaster preparedness can<br />

mean a quicker recovery.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au<br />

Communications are a<br />

necessity for emergency<br />

and non-emergency<br />

support services alike.<br />

APN’s Community-wide<br />

communications services<br />

are enabling indigenous<br />

communities to get<br />

support like never before.<br />



• Editor’s Note<br />

3<br />

• Recent Events<br />

Thousands join 24hr rowing event for mental health<br />

Drone used for planned burn in the Wimmera<br />

Virtual stair climb raises 200K<br />

The CFA celebrates rural women<br />

• Emergency Law with Dr Michael Eburn<br />

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

• On the Frontline - Child Safety<br />

• <strong>AESM</strong> Book Reviews<br />

• In the Spotlight - The Royal Flying Doctor Service<br />

• Emergency Breaks - K’gari (Fraser Island)<br />

5<br />

6<br />

6<br />

7<br />

9<br />

21<br />

31<br />

37<br />

41<br />

43<br />


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

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Associate Professor Erin Cotter-Smith<br />

Course Coordinator of the School of<br />

Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan<br />

University.<br />


Dr Michael Eburn - PHD, Barrister<br />

and leading expert in law relating to<br />

emergency management & emergency<br />

services.<br />


An Insight into the World of Paramedicine<br />

with Rasa Piggott, Registered Paramedic,<br />

Nurse and Lecturer in Paramedicine at<br />

Australian Catholic University.<br />


Editorial Content<br />

press@ausemergencyservices.com.au<br />

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Each edition features a<br />

profile on a person, team,<br />

partnership, squad or unit<br />

to showcase their unique<br />

contribution to the Emergency<br />

Services industry.<br />

Explore local surrounds, or<br />

new places that are only a<br />

short plane trip or drive away,<br />

so you can maximise every<br />

minute of those days when<br />

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next to a call sign on the roster<br />

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

Services Magazine. We are proud to be an independent<br />

publication that seeks to acknowledge and promote the<br />

incredible work of the emergency services industry and the<br />

disaster management sector in Australia.<br />

If you are a regular reader you will be aware that we don’t<br />

focus on any one service within the industry, we try to<br />

provide a little bit of something for everyone. After all,<br />

when disaster strikes it isn’t just one emergency service<br />

that responds, it is the community of emergency services<br />

and disaster management that work together to achieve a<br />

common goal. In this same way we also strive to represent<br />

the voices of that community.<br />

With storm season and bushfire season upon us and<br />

Summer just around the corner it is the time to get prepared<br />

in our homes, workplaces and communities. It is going to<br />

be a busy time ahead for first responders and emergency<br />

service personnel. In this issue, Phoenix Australia has<br />

provided some valuable information about their peer<br />

support progams in preparation for disaster season. The<br />

article discusses the importance of these programs within<br />

emergency service organisations and how to implement<br />

them within your organisation. These programs help<br />

personnel access much needed support through difficult<br />

times.<br />

Something new in this edition, we have added a book review<br />

section to the magazine. There are so many incredible<br />

stories from within the sector we just had to create a space<br />

to share some good reads. You will find an excerpt from<br />

Sunny Whitman’s book, “Here Hold My Drink And Watch This –<br />

Tales from the lighter side of paramedicine, adventure and life”.<br />

This looks like a great read, plus every paperback sold will<br />

provide funds for someone in a rural community in Nepal<br />

access to up to a year’s supply of clean and safe drinking<br />

water.<br />

Happy reading, stay safe and well,<br />

Bianca Peterson<br />

Editor in Chief<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au<br />


The Australian Emergency Services Magazine<br />

is a community educational resource<br />

publication and does not promote itself<br />

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

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

financially supported by or associated<br />

with any government, union or similar<br />

institution. The Australian Emergency Services<br />

Magazine is an independent publication that<br />

is not associated with any services or similar<br />

entities.<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 />




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 />

editor@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 />



This year the event has<br />

expanded again to include<br />

five Western Australian clubs<br />

for the first time. “We expect<br />

there to be some healthy<br />

rivalry between clubs and<br />

states this year in both the<br />

fundraising side and the total<br />

distances that each can row<br />

in the 24-hour period,” said<br />

Mel.<br />

All locations will be<br />

connected via Zoom and a<br />

livestream will be broadcast<br />

on the 24 Hour Row<br />

Facebook page for everyone<br />

to watch and support and<br />

hopefully to donate.<br />

24 Hour Row founder, Mel Wellings (left) with Olympic rower, Georgie Rowe<br />



There’s just two weeks to go<br />

until the <strong>2021</strong> 24 Hour Row<br />

for Mental Fitness supporting<br />

Gotcha4Life. Over 2,000 surf<br />

club members and rowers<br />

Australia-wide are taking part<br />

in this year’s event that was<br />

postponed from August.<br />

In a year where the focus<br />

on mental fitness is more<br />

important than ever, event<br />

organisers are excited to<br />

see the enthusiasm from so<br />

many clubs to participate<br />

and help raise money for<br />

such an important cause.<br />

After the success of the<br />

Avalon Beach 24 Hour Row<br />

over the past three years,<br />

the event has expanded in<br />

<strong>2021</strong> despite the pandemic<br />

and extended lockdowns.<br />

Over 40 locations from<br />

Queensland, NSW, Victoria,<br />

South Australia and Western<br />

Australian Surf Life Saving<br />

Clubs and gyms have<br />

registered for the event that<br />

kicks off at midday (AEDST)<br />

Saturday 30 October and<br />

runs until midday Sunday 31<br />

October.<br />

Rowing machines will be<br />

set up at each location and<br />

participants will take turns<br />

rowing for up to one hour<br />

each, keeping the machines<br />

going for the full 24 hour<br />

period. Some of Australia’s<br />

top athletes including<br />

Olympic rower Georgie<br />

Rowe are signed up to take<br />

part alongside well known<br />

figures such as Paul Gallen<br />

and Hugh Jackman, and<br />

participants who have never<br />

been on a rowing machine in<br />

their lives.<br />

Together they will work<br />

through the mental and<br />

physical challenge of rowing<br />

and will raise funds for<br />

Gotcha4Life which delivers<br />

programs to help improve<br />

the mental fitness of all<br />

Australians with the goal<br />

of bringing suicide rates to<br />

zero.<br />

The event is the brainchild<br />

of one of the country’s top<br />

surf boat coaches Nathan<br />

Wellings from Avalon Beach<br />

SLSC and his wife Mel who<br />

started the event in 2018<br />

after a tragic spate of youth<br />

suicides in the Northern<br />

Beaches area.<br />

“After such a tough year<br />

we’re so happy that the<br />

24 Hour Row is able to go<br />

ahead and can’t believe<br />

how many additional clubs<br />

are locked in to participate<br />

this year,” said 24 Hour Row<br />

founder Mel Wellings.<br />

“Mental fitness and the<br />

awareness of how to help<br />

friends and family is so<br />

important and we’re glad<br />

that our little event is now<br />

able to help save lives<br />

nation-wide,” she said.<br />

“Our local community was<br />

struggling to come to terms<br />

with the loss of a number<br />

of our young people in<br />

2018 and our team of surf<br />

boat rowers wanted to do<br />

something positive to help.<br />

We set up a couple of rowing<br />

machines at the club and<br />

rostered everyone to row for<br />

an hour each, over 24 hours.<br />

“It was such a great event,<br />

with great support from all<br />

the community, not just our<br />

club members. We even<br />

had the local MP Rob Stokes<br />

jump on a machine and row<br />

for an hour with us. He didn’t<br />

do too bad a time either,”<br />

said Mel Wellings.<br />

The beneficiary charity,<br />

Gotcha4Life takes action<br />

by delivering mental fitness<br />

programs that engage,<br />

educate and empower local<br />

communities. They focus on<br />

early intervention and the<br />

power of prevention through<br />

connection.<br />

Surf Life Saving NSW<br />

continues its support of the<br />

expanded event assisting<br />

with promoting the event<br />

through their alliance with<br />

Gotcha4Life.<br />

“We love the 24 Hour<br />

Row, now in its fourth<br />

year,” said Gus Worland,<br />

Gotcha4Life’s Founder.<br />

“It’s a great opportunity for<br />

the community to come<br />

together, raise funds to build<br />

mental fitness and have fun<br />

along the way! Our programs<br />

are needed now more<br />

than ever, and funds raised<br />

will allow us to work with<br />

individuals and communities<br />

to reduce instances of poor<br />

mental health and build<br />

stronger connections.”<br />

Worland said.<br />

Every $40 raised allows a<br />

participant to take part in<br />

a life saving Gotcha4Life<br />

mental fitness workshop.<br />

The ripple effect of that one<br />

person being connected and<br />

supported could mean many<br />

more lives are saved.<br />

The event is hoping to raise<br />

$200,000 over the 24 hour<br />

period.<br />

5<br />







RAISES $200K<br />

A drone has successfully<br />

established an ecological<br />

planned burn in the<br />

Grampians National Park,<br />

saving time and reducing the<br />

risk to firefighters, as part of a<br />

trial carried out by Forest Fire<br />

Management Victoria (FFMVic)<br />

crews in the Wimmera.<br />

The trial – which involved<br />

FFMVic crews working with<br />

a licensed operator to fly<br />

the drone and drop aerial<br />

incendiaries to establish the<br />

burn – was found to increase<br />

accuracy and save crews time<br />

from navigating the difficult<br />

terrain on foot.<br />

The 3000-hectare ecological<br />

burn, near Halls Gap, was<br />

identified as ideal for the<br />

drone trial due to its thick<br />

vegetation, intersecting<br />

drainage lines and creek<br />

system – which make it difficult<br />

for crews to access.<br />

Every year since 2017,<br />

FFMVic crews carry out the<br />

burn, which aims to create a<br />

patchy mosaic of burnt and<br />

unburnt land to break up<br />

the vegetation, encourage<br />

regeneration and provide<br />

habitat for threatened species,<br />

such as the Heath Mouse and<br />

Southern Brown Bandicoot.<br />

It also promotes the growth of<br />

threatened native grasses and<br />

orchids and helps to control<br />

weeds in the area.<br />

This trial is part of the<br />

Victorian Government’s record<br />

investment of $517 million in<br />

the Victorian Budget <strong>2021</strong>/22<br />

to fund FFMVic workers and<br />

ensure access to modern<br />

technology, fire towers and<br />

equipment.<br />

FFMVic works closely with the<br />

Bureau of Meteorology to<br />

assess weather conditions,<br />

such as humidity, temperature,<br />

and wind speed – and will<br />

only carry out burns when<br />

conditions are suitable.<br />

For the latest information<br />

about when planned burns<br />

are happening near you go to<br />

ffm.vic.gov.au/plannedburn,<br />

download the VicEmergency<br />

app or call the VicEmergency<br />

hotline on 1800 2<strong>26</strong> 2<strong>26</strong>.<br />

For drone footage visit: https://<br />

publish.viostream.com/player/<br />

download/ny1ykcsdkoo9t4<br />

Hundreds of CFA firefighters<br />

capped off an impressive<br />

campaign for the Melbourne<br />

Firefighter Stair Climb as the<br />

month-long initiative came<br />

to an end on Sunday, 10<br />

October.<br />

The annual event kicked off<br />

on 10 September and ran<br />

through to World Mental<br />

Health Day on 10 October;<br />

aiming to raise funds<br />

and awareness for Post-<br />

Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI),<br />

depression and suicide.<br />

This year, participants<br />

raised a total of more than<br />

$200,000, which will be<br />

donated to Lifeline,Fortem<br />

Australia and 000<br />

Foundation.<br />

Participants climbed a total<br />

of more than 4.7 million<br />

steps – some completed it in<br />

their backyard,some at their<br />

local park and some threw<br />

on a weighted vest to mimic<br />

firefighter gear and climbed<br />

a step ladder.<br />

CFA Chief Officer Jason<br />

Heffernan said he is proud of<br />

the significant contribution of<br />

volunteer members across<br />

the state who gave their time<br />

and energy to raise money<br />

for this worthwhile cause.<br />

“Mental health is an<br />

important topic to our<br />

members and they never fail<br />

to step up to the challenge<br />

when there is an opportunity<br />

to raise awareness around<br />

this topic,” he said.<br />

“It is incredibly encouraging<br />

to see the participation of<br />

our members has made<br />

a real difference in raising<br />

funds to combat mental<br />

illness.”<br />

More than $2.5 million<br />

has been raised across a<br />

variety of charities since the<br />

Melbourne Firefighter Stair<br />

Climb started in 2014.<br />

Event Director and firefighter<br />

Trent Egan thanked all<br />

participants for their<br />

incredible fundraising efforts<br />

during this year’s virtual<br />

climb.<br />

“Victorian first responders,<br />

as well as their family and<br />

friends, always put in their<br />

best effort for the Melbourne<br />

Firefighter Stair Climb and<br />

this year was no different,”<br />

he said.<br />

Donations will remain open<br />

over the next month, so<br />

people who wish to chip in<br />

to support mental health<br />

and the great stair climbing<br />

efforts of firefighters across<br />

Victoria can visit<br />

www.firefighterclimb.org.au.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 6


female volunteers<br />

currently supporting their<br />

communities in operational,<br />

support, and junior<br />

capacities.<br />

Poolaijelo Fire Brigade<br />

captain Celia Scott said being<br />

female doesn’t hold her back<br />

from doing anything as a CFA<br />

volunteer.<br />

“I don’t see myself as a<br />

female volunteer firefighter,<br />

simply a volunteer firefighter,<br />

she said.<br />

Libby Garoni - 3rd Lieutenant at Gundowring Fire Brigade<br />

“People out here in the<br />

middle of nowhere are<br />

some of the hardest working<br />

people, and without<br />

those types of rural people,<br />

we’d be a bit stuffed.<br />

“CFA is made of these<br />

local women and these<br />

local people, which is why<br />

it’s so important to rural<br />

communities.”<br />

CFA Chief Executive<br />

Officer Natalie MacDonald<br />

said opportunities like<br />

International Rural Women’s<br />

Day provide a chance<br />

to recognise what rural<br />

women bring to their<br />

communities and to CFA as<br />

an organisation.<br />

Captain of the Poolaijelo Fire Brigade, Celia Scott (4th from the left)<br />


Having grown up in a rural<br />

area, Natalie is only too<br />

aware of how important<br />

rural women are to the<br />

protection and the future of<br />

their communities.<br />

The vital role of women to<br />

their communities, their<br />

brigades, and to CFA as an<br />

organisation was celebrated<br />

as CFA marked International<br />

Rural Women’s Day on 15<br />

October.<br />

Libby Garoni is one of the<br />

thousands of women who<br />

volunteer with CFA to help<br />

her community in Victoria’s<br />

north east.<br />

As a 3rd lieutenant at<br />

Gundowring Fire Brigade and<br />

Deputy Group Officer of the<br />

Bogong Group, Lt. Garoni<br />

said she there’s nothing like<br />

living in a rural area.<br />

“I’m from north east<br />

Victoria and while I lived in<br />

Melbourne for a while, I’m<br />

a country girl at heart,” she<br />

said.<br />

“I’ve been a CFA member<br />

for more than 20 years, and<br />

actually joined when a local<br />

member came round to<br />

ask my husband to join. I’ve<br />

always been a bit of a do-er<br />

and always been part<br />

of community organisations,<br />

so I told him I’d sign up as<br />

well.<br />

“I certainly wasn’t the<br />

first female member of<br />

Gundowring Brigade but<br />

when I first started, there<br />

weren’t a lot of women in the<br />

roles that I’ve taken on.<br />

“I think when people see<br />

women out there having<br />

a go, they’re much more<br />

likely to get out and be part<br />

of it, and there are a lot<br />

more young women joining<br />

nowadays which is fantastic.”<br />

The number of women<br />

in CFA’s ranks has been<br />

increasing over many<br />

years, with 12,622<br />

“CFA’s women are great<br />

role models showcasing the<br />

strength, determination,<br />

diversity of skill and<br />

adaptability of women to the<br />

whole Victorian community<br />

and beyond.<br />

“We are committed to<br />

providing a welcoming,<br />

inclusive and safe place to<br />

volunteer and work, and<br />

want to continue to attract<br />

and retain members of<br />

diverse backgrounds and<br />

experiences that reflect our<br />

communities.”<br />

7<br />


www.dtiservicegroup.com.au<br />

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www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 8









Australian Road<br />

Rules and<br />

emergency vehicles<br />

From the Archive - July 27th, 2012<br />

I have been asked again about the application of the road rules when driving<br />

an emergency vehicle. My correspondent wrote:<br />

PHD<br />

Barrister<br />

Leading expert in Law<br />

relating to Emergency<br />

Management & Emergency<br />

Services<br />

The Emergency Law blog is closed<br />

and is now an archive. You can<br />

still access this archive at:<br />

www.emergencylaw.wordpress.com<br />

I work for NSW ambulance service as a paramedic. I have been in the job for just<br />

short of ten years. Recent events have prompted me to investigate the legalities of<br />

rules regulating ambulances responding ‘lights and sirens’ in NSW.As is the nature<br />

of our job, we are given jobs that are categorized R1(hot)(lights and sirens allowed)<br />

to R2- R7 (cold). I’ve been trying to track down information that clearly sets out rules<br />

applying to responding ‘lights and sirens’. The concern I have is many times jobs<br />

are categorized R1 when it is not necessary hence giving the driver the authority<br />

to disobey the RTA road rules, driving above the speed limit hence endangering<br />

the other road users on the road. I spoke to our oh&s rep who said “there is no<br />

legislation that entitles an ambulance to disobey the RTA road rules.. It’s just police<br />

turn a blind eye”. I have consulted management on the issue and they say we must<br />

respond in a manner that gets us to the job in a reasonable time. I have looked<br />

up our Operating procedures SOP and it basically says all care must be taken ..<br />

There appears to be no clear legislation hence making it hard to make an informed<br />

judgement on appropriate behavior in this regard.<br />

Do you have any clear information on this ?<br />

I confess to being amazed that someone can still say ‘there is no legislation<br />

that entitles an ambulance to disobey the RTA road rules.. It’s just police turn a<br />

blind eye’. That is simply wrong. Australia now has national road rules so the<br />

principles, if not the fine details, are the same. In New South Wales the rules<br />

are in the Road Rules 2008 (NSW), (now Road Rules 2014). Rule 306 says:<br />

A provision of these Rules does not apply to the driver of an emergency vehicle<br />

if:<br />

(a) in the circumstances:<br />

• the driver is taking reasonable care, and<br />

• it is reasonable that the rule should not apply, and<br />

(b) if the vehicle is a motor vehicle that is moving-the vehicle is displaying a<br />

blue or red flashing light or sounding an alarm.<br />

All the jurisdictions have this rule, what varies is how they define what is an<br />

emergency vehicle (and see the extensive discussion under the post about<br />

mines rescue, https://emergencylaw.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/597/, about<br />

what is or is not an emergency vehicle in Western Australia).<br />

In NSW an emergency vehicle is defined as:<br />

… any vehicle driven by a person who is:<br />

• an emergency worker, and<br />

• driving the vehicle in the course of his or her duties as an emergency<br />


with Dr Michael Eburn<br />

“emergency worker” means:<br />

• a member of the Ambulance<br />

Service rendering or providing<br />

transport for sick or injured<br />

persons, or<br />

• a member of a fire brigade, rural<br />

fire brigade or the State Emergency<br />

Service providing transport in the<br />

course of an emergency, or<br />

• a person (or a person belong to a<br />

class of persons) approved by the<br />

Authority.<br />

This is better than trying to define what<br />

is an ambulance by reference to its<br />

design or use and ensures that vehicles<br />

used by the ambulance service, but<br />

not for transporting patients such as<br />

rapid response cars and motorcycles<br />

and command and support vehicles are<br />

’emergency vehicles’.<br />

The rules in the Road Rules 2008 (now<br />

Road Rules 2014) are all the rules of the<br />

road including obligations to obey traffic<br />

lights, keep left, not speed etc. Serious<br />

offences such as dangerous driving are<br />

not in the Road Rules but the Crimes<br />

Act 1900 (NSW) so the exemption does<br />

not apply. The exemption is not an<br />

exemption from civil liability. So how<br />

can we know that it is reasonable that<br />

the rules should not apply?<br />

That’s a question that could be argued<br />

case by case, but by having a system<br />

such as the one described goes a long<br />

way to saying the exemption should<br />

apply to R1 cases but not others. If you<br />

use lights and sirens on an R2 you can<br />

expect a ticket and that you’ll have to<br />

go before a magistrate to try and show<br />

why your conduct was reasonable; if<br />

it’s R1 you could expect the ambulance<br />

service would write to the police<br />

confirming it was an R1 task and the<br />

ticket will be withdrawn. Whether a case<br />

should be classed as R1 is a matter of<br />

policy. I recall being told, when I was in<br />

NSW Ambulance that a ‘call to a person<br />

fallen’ may not sound like much, until<br />

you find they’ve fallen from the third<br />

floor so all 000 calls were ‘urgent duty’.<br />

I don’t know what criteria is now used<br />

for R1 or how you know, before you<br />

get there, whether it’s an appropriate<br />

coding. As the driver you are in charge<br />

of the vehicle so you have to drive in a<br />

way that is safe regardless of the call,<br />

the R1 code can only authorize, not<br />

require you to rely on Rule 306.<br />

Regardless of the call, you have to<br />

take reasonable care, so you have to<br />

take into account a driver approaching<br />

a green light will probably assume<br />

that they have right of way so if you<br />

pull in front of them that’s not taking<br />

reasonable care , you need to stop and<br />

make sure they’ve given way to you<br />

before proceeding. If you do that you<br />

should not get a ticket for running the<br />

red light, and if you do, eg from a red<br />

light camera, you can expect it to be<br />

dropped. Equally you can’t drive so as<br />

put others at unnecessary risk, your<br />

desire to save a life doesn’t warrant<br />

killing or injuring someone else (see<br />

https://emergencylaw.wordpress.<br />

com/2009/10/24/suspended-jailsentence-for-firefighter-involved-in-afatal-accident/,<br />

so if you are driving in<br />

a way that would cause a bystander<br />

to say’gee they’re going fast’ or ‘did<br />

you see that ambulance, that was<br />

dangerous’ then you’re not taking<br />

reasonable care.<br />

If you crash the normal rules of civil<br />

liability apply but that’s ok, all vehicles,<br />

including vehicles that don’t need to be<br />

registered such as NSW RFS appliances,<br />

are covered by compulsory third party<br />

insurance schemes. In theory it’s the<br />

personal liability of the driver but in<br />

reality it is not and, unless the driver is<br />

intoxicated, will never be a matter of<br />

personal liability. Any criminal liability,<br />

such as for dangerous driving causing<br />

death, is personal and does fall upon<br />

the driver.<br />

My shorthand answer, not based on<br />

law as such but my catchy summary<br />

is: when authorized to proceed with<br />

lights and sirens (and what authorized<br />

means will vary from state to state and<br />

service to service) you can do whatever<br />

you like, provided you don’t crash – so<br />

drive in a way that makes sure you don’t<br />

crash – don’t drive too fast and don’t<br />

assume others have seen you or are<br />

giving way to you.<br />

See also<br />

https://emergencylaw.wordpress.<br />

com/2012/02/12/ambulance-officers-speedingfine-storm/<br />

https://emergencylaw.wordpress.<br />

com/2012/06/15/west-australian-police-officercharged/<br />

https://emergencylaw.wordpress.<br />

com/2010/04/19/police-caught-on-camerarunning-red-lights-speeding-for-no-reason/<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

Authors:<br />

Eliza Blomfield<br />

Courtney Bowd<br />

Amila Kaye<br />

Anita Savic<br />

Alexandra Howard

Preparing Peer Support Programs<br />

for Disaster Season<br />

with insights from Todd Wehr, Director of the Queensland Ambulance<br />

Staff Support Service, Priority One<br />

Alongside the rewards of their work, employees<br />

and volunteers in the emergency services face<br />

unique stressors and mental health challenges.<br />

Routine exposure to potentially traumatic events,<br />

combined with organisational stressors such as shift<br />

work, can take a considerable toll on wellbeing (Lawn et<br />

al., 2020).<br />

The results of a survey conducted by Beyond Blue of<br />

over 21, 000 emergency service members indicate<br />

rates of mental health conditions including anxiety,<br />

depression and probable PTSD are significantly<br />

elevated among Australia’s first responders, compared<br />

to the general community (Beyond Blue Ltd., 2018).<br />

Recently, the impact of major events such as the<br />

2019/20 bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic has<br />

highlighted the importance of ensuring accessible,<br />

effective supports are in place to protect the wellbeing<br />

of our emergency workers.<br />

Coordinated peer support programs are one way that<br />

organisations can help support the mental health of<br />

their members. These programs are typically designed<br />

to provide an initial point of contact for individuals<br />

experiencing personal or work-related issues, and<br />

to assist with referral to professional services where<br />

appropriate.<br />

Expert consensus suggests programs that promote<br />

social connection, calming, self- and community<br />

efficacy, a sense of safety and hope can reduce stress<br />

and bolster resilience among those who have been<br />

exposed to potentially traumatic events (Dückers, 2013).<br />

Organisations that seek to introduce or strengthen peer<br />

support offerings for their members can take direction<br />

from well-established and efficacious programs such<br />

as Priority One. Established in 1992, Priority One is a<br />

multilayered peer support program serving over 5000<br />

Queensland Ambulance employees through a network<br />

of approximately 250 peer supporters.

Todd Wehr, the Director of Priority<br />

One, says peer supporters provide<br />

a vital safety net for colleagues<br />

who may be experiencing distress,<br />

and that peer support is a crucial<br />

element of a strong mental health<br />

and wellbeing framework in<br />

emergency services organisations.<br />

Mr Wehr provided some practical<br />

advice around common actions<br />

agencies can take as they seek to<br />

develop and implement a successful<br />

program to support their workforce.<br />

Developing a peer support program.<br />

Building a well-planned, tailored<br />

program takes time and requires<br />

engagement and commitment from<br />

all levels of an organisation. “It is<br />

not enough to select a few peer<br />

supporters and expect a program<br />

will work – you need strong policies<br />

and practices in place before<br />

a program commences”, says<br />

Mr Wehr. Every organisation is<br />

different, and early and ongoing<br />

consultation with employees<br />

and volunteers will help leaders<br />

understand the unique challenges<br />

faced by different areas of their<br />

workforce, and what actions might<br />

be taken to encourage utilisation of<br />

a program that will provide brief,<br />

early, and practical interventions for<br />

individuals experiencing distress.<br />

Selecting peer supporters.<br />

When asked about important<br />

characteristics for peer<br />

supporters to<br />

possess, Mr<br />

Wehr emphasised a capacity for<br />

self-care. Since peer supporters<br />

will likely support their colleagues<br />

through experiences that they have<br />

had themselves, supporters need<br />

to develop awareness of what might<br />

trigger their own psychological<br />

distress; as well as show willingness<br />

to access mental health supports for<br />

themselves and take breaks from<br />

their role as required. Ideally, the<br />

peer support team will have a diverse<br />

membership that is representative of<br />

an agency’s unique workforce. “The<br />

peer support team should include<br />

a range of personalities, too, since<br />

people will choose to share personal<br />

experiences with those who they feel<br />

comfortable with”, says Mr Wehr.<br />

Training peer supporters.<br />

Peer supporters should undergo<br />

comprehensive training (including<br />

ongoing refresher training) in simple<br />

psychological techniques such as<br />

listening skills, as well as peer-based<br />

approaches such as Psychological<br />

First Aid (PFA). PFA is a flexible, simple<br />

approach, endorsed by the World<br />

Health Organisation, that anyone<br />

with the appropriate training can<br />

use to support others who have<br />

experienced trauma. Ideally, peer<br />

support training involves practical,<br />

scenario-based application of<br />

relevant skills, as well as information<br />

about local professional support<br />

services and treatment options. Mr<br />

Wehr says that through training, “We<br />

don’t make peer supporters, we<br />

provide peer supporters<br />

with additional<br />

skills and knowledge to do what they<br />

already do at work – use their lived<br />

experience to support colleagues – in<br />

a safe, supported way.”<br />

Awareness-raising of peer support<br />

programs.<br />

To ensure program success, first<br />

responders must be aware of<br />

peer support options within their<br />

organisation, including who is<br />

eligible to utilise the service and<br />

how to access support. Agencies<br />

should clearly communicate that the<br />

personal information of those who<br />

engage with the program will remain<br />

confidential, except in cases where<br />

there is a risk of harm to the worker<br />

seeking support, or to others. Peer<br />

support should not only be offered<br />

following exposure to stressful<br />

incidents, but also form part of<br />

routine health and welfare. Mr Wehr<br />

says that incorporating peer support<br />

into everyday life at work helps<br />

normalise conversations around<br />

mental health and can encourage<br />

service utilisation in times of crisis.<br />

Looking after peer supporters.<br />

In recognition of the demands of<br />

their work, it is important that peer<br />

supporters can access support<br />

and expert advice themselves, Mr<br />

Wehr says. Providing information<br />

on self- and team-care, as well as<br />

regular supervision within programs<br />

promotes cohesion in peer support<br />

teams and provides peer supporters<br />

with an opportunity to address<br />

challenges they may be experiencing.<br />

Peer support programs should also<br />

include reliable access to clinical<br />

services for peer supporters, to<br />

ensure both they and those they are<br />

supporting can obtain professional<br />

help when required.<br />

Evaluation of peer support<br />

programs.<br />

A comprehensive program will<br />

include clear goals that are linked<br />

to specific outcomes. Suggested<br />

outcomes include reduced<br />

psychological stress among workers<br />

and perceived program effectiveness,<br />

as well as adjunctive indicators of<br />

program success, such as reduced<br />

absenteeism and staff turnover.<br />

These outcomes should be evaluated<br />

by an external body on a regular<br />

basis, and shape continual program

“Ideally, the peer support team will have a diverse membership that<br />

is representative of an agency’s unique workforce”<br />

improvement. “Some components<br />

of a successful program are hard<br />

to quantify, though”, says Mr Wehr.<br />

“We also get feedback around<br />

improvements in people’s personal<br />

relationships, their sense of trust and<br />

perceived support in the workplace,<br />

and we really value that, too.”<br />

Phoenix Australia has also produced<br />

international guidelines to inform<br />

best practice peer support.<br />

Reducing stigma around accessing<br />

support.<br />

“Management support is critical for<br />

program success”, says Mr Wehr.<br />

Emergency services managers<br />

and supervisors are well-placed<br />

to encourage open conversations<br />

around mental health, and to<br />

affirm the message that service<br />

delivery should not come at the<br />

expense of first responders’ own<br />

wellbeing. Leaders can show the way<br />

by learning about PFA, accessing<br />

psychological support or advice<br />

as needed, listening and acting on<br />

concerns raised by members of their<br />

workforce, and encouraging workers<br />

to access available supports as early<br />

as possible.<br />

How to prepare your workforce.<br />

Help prepare your leaders and<br />

peer supporters for the upcoming<br />

disaster season with free online<br />

Psychological First Aid training.<br />

Supported by funding from the<br />

Australian Government under the<br />

Mental Health Supports for Bushfire<br />

Affected Australians package, Phoenix<br />

Australia is providing Psychological<br />

First Aid training that has been<br />

tailored to Emergency Services<br />

Leaders who supported the 2019/20<br />

Bushfire recovery efforts.<br />

Find out more about PFA and<br />

Trauma-informed Care training for<br />

Emergency Services, and register<br />

your interest here: https://www.<br />

phoenixaustralia.org/resources/<br />

bushfire-recovery/<br />

<br />

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<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

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www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 14





As one of Australia’s leading uniform providers, Workwear<br />

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Workwear Group Uniforms has earned a reputation for<br />

creating innovative uniform solutions that provide the<br />

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To our team, creating uniforms for the frontline is a privilege,<br />

and one we don’t take lightly. We truly understand that a<br />

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the garments providing the functionality the wearer needs.<br />

It is through this sense of responsibility, that Workwear<br />

Group Uniforms continues to be a trusted pair of hands<br />

for organisations such as Fire Rescue NSW, South Australia<br />

Ambulance Service and the Australian Defence Force.<br />

Getting to know the wearer<br />

Our team prides itself on its commitment to safety, and it is<br />

at the core of every program we run. Our in-house resources<br />

are in a constant state of research and development to<br />

ensure we are offering our clients the latest in technology<br />

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Group Uniforms has established a “Day in the Life” program,<br />

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physical challenges in which our uniform needs to perform in.<br />

Lead Industrial designer Mark Godoy says “a one-size-fits all<br />

approach does not do the wearer justice. This is why it is so<br />

important that we completely embed ourselves in what they<br />

do day in and day out. Every truck, helicopter or station is<br />

different and we have to take this into consideration for each<br />

frontline service.”<br />

Testing in the field<br />

In addition to running these onsite programs, we work<br />

with our partners to select a number of wearers to trial<br />

new designs before it is rolled out, so we can get unfiltered<br />

feedback from the source; do you feel the uniform design<br />

takes into consideration your modesty needs? When<br />

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Those facing the front line should be confident the clothing<br />

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To Serve and Protect<br />

Bringing diversity to Australia’s emergency services<br />


Australia has an estimated 250,000<br />

emergency service volunteers. They<br />

are vital to the country’s capability<br />

to respond to emergencies and disasters.<br />

However, their contribution is under<br />

threat.<br />

Australia’s volunteer workforce is<br />

shrinking.<br />

Both the number of people involved in<br />

formal volunteering and the number of<br />

hours individuals are dedicating to these<br />

roles have declined in recent years. Time<br />

pressures on families and increasing work<br />

commitments are playing a role, along<br />

with growing individualism and a decline<br />

in altruistic values, according to some. For<br />

emergency service organisations that rely<br />

on volunteers, this is a worrying trend.<br />

These concerns have led to much strategic<br />

thinking about how to boost volunteer<br />

numbers. Emergency service volunteer<br />

ranks have traditionally been filled by<br />

“able-bodied, Anglo-Celtic, heterosexual<br />

men,” with little representation from<br />

Indigenous, culturally diverse or LGBTI<br />

groups. Female volunteer numbers have<br />

also been low, due to perceptions of an<br />

‘old boys’ or ‘military’ culture in emergency<br />

service organisations. Yet these<br />

organisations are coming to see that to<br />

remain viable and, as some would argue,<br />

to operate effectively in their communities,<br />

they will need to attract and retain a more<br />

diversified volunteer pool.<br />

The essay “ To Serve and Protect; Bringing<br />

Diversity to Australia’s Emergency Services”<br />

written by Trish Prentice tells the stories<br />

of volunteers from diverse cultural and<br />

religious backgrounds who have joined the<br />

emergency service volunteer ranks.<br />

It describes why they joined, what<br />

they have gained from the experience<br />

(and the challenges), and how their<br />

organisations and the broader community<br />

have benefited from their service. While<br />

numbers of volunteers from diverse<br />

backgrounds are still small these<br />

individuals are paving the way for broader<br />

institutional change.<br />

This article is an extract from the original<br />

essay. We have included two volunteer<br />

stories however there are many more.<br />

To read the entire essay visit:<br />

https://scanloninstitute.org.au/publication/<br />


Ahmad (Country Fire Authority)<br />

Outside his local halal kebab<br />

shop, Ahmad saw a poster<br />

seeking CFA recruits. He’d<br />

come to Australia from Sri<br />

Lanka as an international<br />

student and was keen to make<br />

‘Australian’ friends, to learn<br />

more about the culture and to<br />

feel more integrated. Being<br />

part of the CFA looked like<br />

fun. The recruitment poster<br />

featured refugees and showed<br />

that anyone was welcome to<br />

join, so in 2017 he signed up.<br />

“I was attracted to the<br />

adrenaline, the lights and<br />

sirens,” he says. “We don’t<br />

have anything like this back<br />

home. I wanted to put back<br />

into the community.”<br />

Four years later, as a member<br />

of the Narre Warren CFA<br />

brigade, Ahmad tries to go to<br />

as many callouts as possible<br />

outside his work hours. The<br />

brigade attends house and<br />

industrial fires, car accidents<br />

and other types of rescues.<br />

Ahmad has fought a number<br />

of bushfires. The 2019<br />

Gippsland fires was a time<br />

he’ll never forget:<br />

I was deployed for five days to<br />

East Gippsland. It was different.<br />

It was scary. We were all anxious<br />

but also ready and prepared<br />

to fight the fire and help the<br />

community. Everyone got<br />

together. There were donations<br />

of food for the firefighters. Local<br />

businesses provided free food.<br />

Everyone helped each other. As<br />

much as that time was difficult<br />

and scary, I think back to it. We<br />

got messages from around the<br />

world. I learned a lot. We went<br />

there and did what we were<br />

supposed to do.<br />

Ahmad says his work as a<br />

volunteer “is awesome for a<br />

graduate, for getting into the<br />

workforce, for learning how<br />

to deal with stakeholders. You<br />

start off learning skills that are<br />

accredited, things like first<br />

aid and firefighting skills, then<br />

you learn a whole lot of soft<br />

skills like communication,<br />

working under pressure,<br />

working in a team. These go<br />

hand in hand with the<br />

technical skills you gain. They<br />

are both things you need in a<br />

workplace.”<br />

Ahmad knows a few other<br />

Muslims in the CFA and a<br />

few other ‘people of colour.’<br />

He says this has been<br />

helpful for drawing others in:<br />

People don’t know if they can<br />

join. They are quieter and<br />

more laid back. They don’t<br />

make the effort to inquire.<br />

When you have people from<br />

different backgrounds it’s<br />

easier for people from those<br />

cultures to approach them<br />

and ask questions. People<br />

have been able to have<br />

conversations with me about<br />

what it’s like.<br />

For Ahmad, having people like<br />

him from different cultural<br />

backgrounds in the brigade<br />

is crucial for the recruitment<br />

process. His brother has even<br />

joined. That’s part of CFA’s<br />

recruitment strategy, he says.<br />

“If you have one family<br />

member join you can draw in<br />

other family members as well.<br />

It helps break down<br />

those barriers.”<br />

Zulfi joined the SES because,<br />

coming from<br />

Afghanistan at war, he was<br />

mindful of what Australia<br />

had given to him. He<br />

wanted to give something in<br />

return. He said to<br />

himself, “Let’s do something<br />

for these people.” So he did.<br />

Four years into his service<br />

Zulfi has been involved<br />

in many emergencies, from<br />

road accidents to fallen<br />

trees. He also fought the<br />

2019 Gippsland fires in<br />

Victoria, and has taken part<br />

in missing person searches.<br />

These memories stay with<br />

him.<br />

I’ve done a lot of missing<br />

person searches. Sometimes<br />

the outcomes are not so<br />

great but when you get a<br />

good outcome it’s fantastic.<br />

I’ve had times when I’ve<br />

found someone and the<br />

family have come and hugged<br />

me. In those times I feel like<br />

I’ve done something for the<br />

country. I’ve helped someone<br />

from here.<br />

Most SES units are not<br />

culturally diverse, but Zulfi’s<br />

in Greater Dandenong is one<br />

of the most diverse in the<br />

state. Its 45 members speak<br />

16 languages. Members use<br />

this cultural capital in their<br />

volunteer recruitment drives,<br />

asking people in their own<br />

language to join the SES.<br />

Zulfi has found that people<br />

in the Afghan community<br />

value this approach. “When<br />

we are speaking in their<br />

language, they ask, ‘How did<br />

you get into that? What do<br />

you do?’ They are interested<br />

in how I am giving back to<br />

the community.” He also says<br />

it creates trust. “If they see<br />

someone like me, they see an<br />

idol, they want to be like me.”<br />

It’s led to others becoming<br />

involved.<br />

Yet Zulfi knows there can be<br />

barriers to getting involved.<br />

He found the application<br />

process difficult because<br />

of the language on the<br />

application form. But<br />

the unit helped him. “They<br />

broke down the process<br />

Zulfi (State Emergency Services)<br />

into smaller segments,” he<br />

says.<br />

Zulfi says being part of the<br />

SES has changed his life.<br />

He’s developed new skills —<br />

not least, how to use a<br />

chain saw. He’s expanded his<br />

social group, meeting<br />

a range of people from<br />

different backgrounds, many<br />

of whom have become<br />

friends. But giving back to the<br />

community — “that’s the best<br />

bit for me.”


Emergency service<br />

organisations are grappling<br />

with Australia’s cultural and<br />

religious diversity. Strategic<br />

thinking about how to draw<br />

on this human capital and<br />

how such engagement can<br />

lead to better outcomes in<br />

emergencies is underway.<br />

Yet there has been some<br />

resistance to change.<br />

A program initiated some<br />

years ago highlights some<br />

of these barriers.<br />

In 2000, the Fire and<br />

Emergency Services Authority<br />

of Western Australia (FESA)<br />

decided to host a series<br />

of workshops for staff on<br />

understanding Islam. One<br />

local unit wanted to talk to<br />

new arrivals from Somalia,<br />

Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan<br />

about emergency services<br />

and hazards but were unsure<br />

how to go about it without<br />

being “clumsy.” Unit<br />

members, wanting to build<br />

relationships with Muslim<br />

community leaders to deliver<br />

safety messages, decided<br />

to circulate an expression<br />

of interest to gauge how<br />

many staff might attend<br />

professional development to<br />

improve their understanding<br />

of Islam. The organisers didn’t<br />

expect the backlash. Emails<br />

challenged the need for<br />

the activity, since ‘standard<br />

operating procedures’ (SOPs)<br />

were applied equally to<br />

all people, irrespective of<br />

nationality, race or religious<br />

beliefs.’ Other staff said, “Why<br />

do I need to know anything<br />

about someone’s religious<br />

beliefs? I am saving lives — I<br />

treat everyone the same.”<br />

Another said, “Firefighters<br />

deal with all people equally.<br />

Nationality, race or religious<br />

beliefs do not affect our<br />

SOP’s…all the public we come<br />

into contact with deserve to<br />

be, and in fact are, treated<br />

the same.”<br />

The question of when and<br />

how cultural diversity or<br />

difference might play a<br />

role in emergency service<br />

work is controversial.<br />

Some believe it plays little<br />

role because individuals<br />

are treated equally in an<br />

emergency — preserving<br />

life takes precedence above<br />

all other considerations.<br />

Others believe cultural<br />

considerations should be<br />

taken into account in an<br />

emergency response. One<br />

of these is Jared Taylor,<br />

Executive Director of the<br />

Queensland State<br />

Emergency Service <strong>Vol</strong>unteer<br />

Association and a long<br />

serving Queensland SES<br />

volunteer:<br />

We are all people and all<br />

need to be treated equally<br />

but because of differences in<br />

culture, our diversity and our<br />

individuality, we need to be able<br />

to adapt. We need to be able to<br />

treat our cultures slightly<br />

differently, because they are all<br />

different.<br />

As an example of this, in some<br />

cultures it is not appropriate<br />

for men to be left alone with<br />

women. Whether we agree or<br />

disagree with that is not for us<br />

to determine. But to be able<br />

to reach those parts of our<br />

community we need to have an<br />

understanding of that because<br />

at the end of the day we still<br />

want these people to receive<br />

help and to get on the flood<br />

boat and be evacuated.<br />

There are some communities<br />

that are very focused on their<br />

elderly and their wellbeing.<br />

We need to have systems and<br />

processes in place that allow<br />

us to understand that and to<br />

assist those cultures.<br />

Likewise, language is also<br />

important. We don’t all speak<br />

English. We need to be able<br />

to adapt to differences so we<br />

can provide assistance. We<br />

can’t expect in a time of crisis<br />

for everyone to all of a sudden<br />

speak the same language, that’s<br />

not a reality.<br />

We are all unique, we are all<br />

diverse, we are all individuals,<br />

and in order to reach<br />

individuals we have to adapt<br />

accordingly.<br />


Emergency service<br />

organisations looking to<br />

recruit more religiously or<br />

culturally diverse volunteers<br />

might do best to start with<br />

the cultural capital that<br />

already exists within the<br />


Trish Prentice is a researcher<br />

with a particular interest in<br />

social cohesion and religious<br />

communities. She has worked<br />

in Australia and overseas in<br />

the government, academic and<br />

not-for profit sectors, including<br />

in Cairo, Egypt, working for an<br />

organisation specialising in<br />

Arab-West Understanding and<br />

in Geneva, Switzerland for a<br />

human rights advocacy group.<br />

Trish has managed<br />

research projects in Indonesia,<br />

Singapore and Pakistan and<br />

written on various topics,<br />

including Islamophobia and<br />

Australian values from an<br />

Islamic perspective.<br />

Trish joined the Scanlon<br />

Foundation Research Institute<br />

in 2020.<br />

organisation. If volunteers<br />

know no one else from their<br />

cultural background in the<br />

organisation, it could be a<br />

missed opportunity.<br />

Each volunteer brings social,<br />

educational or professional<br />

networks that could facilitate<br />

broader recruitment. Could<br />

their story be used to<br />

encourage others from a<br />

similar cultural background<br />

to join?<br />

Word of mouth is a powerful<br />

medium. Hearing about an<br />

organisation from a friend,<br />

relative or another social<br />

contact is often perceived<br />

as a “more credible and<br />

trustworthy source of<br />

information” than a brochure<br />

or poster. Current volunteers<br />

may have knowledge or<br />

experience about how to<br />

engage their community. An<br />

“understanding of values,<br />

community structures and…<br />

pathways for communication”<br />

can all be drawn on<br />

to encourage further<br />

volunteering within their<br />

communities.<br />

In the face of disasters and<br />

emergencies, communities<br />

need to band together,<br />

then work together towards<br />

recovery. Emergency<br />

Management Victoria says<br />

the emergency management<br />

sector can “lead and<br />

encourage this cohesion,<br />

through embracing diversity<br />

within its own organisations,<br />

openly reaching out to<br />

diverse groups in the<br />

community, delivering<br />

services that meet the needs<br />

of the whole community, and<br />

positively influencing<br />

change more broadly.” By<br />

becoming more inclusive<br />

and diverse, emergency<br />

management organisations<br />

will strengthen their<br />

connection to the<br />

communities they serve.<br />

These volunteers provide<br />

powerful examples of<br />

how individuals from<br />

different backgrounds can<br />

work together. Through<br />

their service, they are not<br />

only making a tangible<br />

contribution to Australia<br />

but paving the way for others<br />

from culturally or religiously<br />

diverse backgrounds to get<br />

involved in emergency service<br />

volunteering.<br />

While emergency service<br />

organisations face genuine<br />

challenges as they seek to<br />

become more representative,<br />

the benefits of tapping into<br />

Australia’s cultural resources<br />

will set them up to meet<br />

Australia’s emergency and<br />

disaster response needs into<br />

the future.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 20

Lets Talk<br />

‘<br />

Mental Health<br />

with Associate Professor<br />

Erin Cotter-Smith<br />

Stuck somewhere between<br />

surviving and thriving?<br />

Welcome to the world<br />

of languishing!<br />

This is only a short column,<br />

usually about 800 words. But for<br />

this current issue, I kept putting off<br />

writing it. Not because I don’t enjoy<br />

writing – I do, or because I am not<br />

interested in the topic – I am, but<br />

quite simply because I couldn’t be<br />

bothered.<br />

I’ve been feeling that way quite a bit<br />

lately; binge-watching Ted Lasso,<br />

living in active wear despite hardly<br />

ever being active, and laying in bed<br />

each morning aimlessly scrolling<br />

through social media.<br />

Before COVID, this state of<br />

wellbeing may have been<br />

concerning, but as we continue<br />

to navigate the pandemic, feeling<br />

“blah” has almost become the new<br />

mental health norm. The New York<br />

Times released an article in April<br />

this year discussing this feeling<br />

– not happy, not sad – but<br />


What is languishing?<br />

Coined by sociologist Corey Keyes,<br />

languishing is the often-neglected<br />

middle child of mental health, a nomans-land<br />

between depression and<br />

flourishing.<br />

Keyes suggests that people<br />

most likely to experience major<br />

depression and anxiety disorders<br />

following the pandemic aren’t<br />

the ones experiencing symptoms<br />

today: they’re those of us who<br />

are languishing right now. New<br />

evidence from healthcare workers<br />

in Italy supports this, showing that<br />

those who were languishing in the<br />

spring of 2020 were three times<br />

more likely than their flourishing<br />

peers to be diagnosed with posttraumatic<br />

stress disorder (PTSD).<br />

Part of the problem with<br />

languishing according to Adam<br />

Grant, organisational psychologist<br />

and author of the now viral New<br />

York Times op-ed, is that when<br />

you’re languishing, you might not<br />

notice the dulling of delight or<br />

the dwindling of drive. You don’t<br />

catch yourself slipping slowly into<br />

solitude; you’re indifferent to your<br />

indifference.<br />

How do we know if we’re<br />

languishing?<br />

Unlike depression or anxiety<br />

disorder, languishing is a series<br />

of emotions, not a mental health<br />

condition.<br />

“Languishing encompasses<br />

distressing feelings of<br />

stagnation, monotony,<br />

and emptiness,” says<br />

psychiatrist Leela R.<br />

Magavi.<br />

I know I’ve certainly felt<br />

most of these emotions<br />

in one capacity or another<br />

throughout the pandemic,<br />

but I also thought that<br />

feeling like this would<br />

be a temporary thing<br />

– but I’ve been<br />

living in Blah-town<br />

for a while now,<br />

with no clear end in<br />

sight.<br />

According to<br />

previous<br />

research by Keyes in 2002, about<br />

12% of adults met the criteria<br />

for languishing. We could expect<br />

this number to have increased<br />

dramatically during the pandemic.<br />

One person who understands<br />

languishing acutely is my friend<br />

Jasper. Jasper is a healthcare<br />

worker in the United States. He has<br />

witnessed the devastating impact of<br />

this virus from the frontline, treating<br />

COVID patients, and eventually<br />

becoming one himself. Having<br />

recovered physically from the<br />

effects of the virus, Jasper still finds<br />

himself in what he dubs his “COVID<br />

funk”.<br />

“Physically, I am doing much better,<br />

but emotionally, I don’t really feel<br />

good or bad. I’m not as motivated or<br />

as present as I used to be, and every<br />

little task is much more draining<br />

than before,” he says.<br />

Then there’s Emma, whose new<br />

normal is alternating between<br />

feelings of fatigue and no<br />

motivation to quick bursts of energy<br />

when starting something new, only<br />

to feel unmotivated again soon<br />

after.<br />

“I’ve found the perfect word to<br />

describe how I am feeling lately,”<br />

she recently shared with me. She<br />

went on to describe how a colleague<br />

had recently been asked how they<br />

were feeling, replying that they were<br />

“languishing”. “And I just thought<br />

YES! That perfectly describes how I<br />

am feeling!” said Emma.<br />

Jasper agrees that languishing is the<br />

perfect way to describe how he has<br />

been feeling.<br />

“I constantly feel like I’m either lazy<br />

or making up excuses, but it’s just<br />

this weird state of nothingness and<br />

knowing that I’m not functioning at<br />

my usual full capacity,” says Jasper.<br />

What can we do about it?<br />

We still have a lot to learn about<br />

what causes languishing and what<br />

we can do about it.<br />

I have been trying to make small but<br />

consistent changes to my life and<br />

taking time to appreciate even the<br />

smallest of wins. I look for projects<br />

that have a realistic chance of being<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Erin Cotter-Smith<br />

PhD, MPH, MClinEpi<br />

Course Coordinator<br />

School of Medical and<br />

Health Sciences<br />

Edith Cowan University<br />

completed, because completion<br />

yields a sense of satisfaction that<br />

directly combats languishing. I also<br />

give myself credit for what I have<br />

achieved – even if it is watching<br />

two seasons of Ted Lasso in one<br />

weekend!<br />

And as my friend Tiff Cook reminds<br />

me, avoid the self-sabotage. Keep<br />

setting clear, meaningful goals that<br />

drive you forward and give you<br />

hope and energy.<br />

“Setting and achieving meaningful<br />

goals provides us with a sense<br />

that we are making progress, even<br />

when it seems insignificant in the<br />

moment. If those goals and hopes<br />

are dashed, it can produce a whole<br />

host of negative emotions,” says<br />

Tiff.<br />

One meaningful goal can be as<br />

easy as trying to being honest when<br />

someone asks, “How are you?”<br />

Instead of going straight to our<br />

default reply of saying “Great!” try<br />

answering honestly. “Actually, I’m<br />

languishing at the moment.”<br />

How refreshing would that be!<br />

As promised, here is my podcast<br />

recommendation! If you are looking<br />

for some great motivation to shift<br />

you from languishing to flourishing,<br />

check out Tiff Cook’s podcast<br />

“Roll with the punches” on Apple<br />




Celebrating the second birthday<br />

of an incredible organisation<br />

that places mental fitness,<br />

community and connection at<br />

it’s heart<br />

Author: Brooke Turnbull

The date is October 10th, World Mental Health Day, the stage<br />

is set and there’s a frisson of excitement in the air. An energy.<br />

An energy that’s shared by everyone who has dedicated the<br />

last two years to the team. This is no ordinary birthday, this<br />

is a celebration, an anniversary. This is the culmination of<br />

hard work, blood, sweat and tears and a serious amount of<br />

teamwork. This is the second anniversary of the opening of<br />

Fortem Australia, a not-for-profit that supports the mental<br />

health and wellbeing for first responders and their families.<br />

Fortem Australia has a range of wellbeing activities on offer; Cooking Class<br />

Since opening, Fortem Australia have had over 12,000 people<br />

within the emergency services register for the wellbeing<br />

activities on offer. Approximately 280 people have accessed<br />

clinical support services and an overwhelming 93% of<br />

participants have reported an improvement in their mental<br />

health since joining Fortem.<br />

John Bale, Managing Director of Fortem Australia, says “Our<br />

work only serves to highlight the deep need that remains.”<br />

And with first responders still reporting some of the highest<br />

rates of suicide or self-harm per year, that need has never<br />

been stronger.<br />

Children’s Art Class<br />

A recent study, by Charles Sturt University on the mental<br />

health and wellbeing of first responders during the pandemic,<br />

found that the proportion of respondents with severe<br />

depression and anxiety was 10 and 4 times higher than<br />

the general population. Large scale emergency events over<br />

the last two years such as the 2019/2020 bush fires, the<br />

COVID-19 pandemic, and flooding in New South Wales have<br />

added to the emotional load that first responders have dealt<br />

with on top of their usual role and duties. It is no wonder that<br />

these figures from CSU exist.<br />

The mental fitness and wellbeing of personnel within an<br />

industry like the emergency services, is not just an individual<br />

responsibility, but a community effort. One of the driving<br />

forces of mental health that Mr Bale speaks of is “the<br />

powerhouse role that family and social connections play<br />

in wellbeing and mental fitness.” This is one of the biggest<br />

components within the Fortem Australia ethos. Just as these<br />

people who work tirelessly within our communities to keep us<br />

safe and well, we must, in part, also come together to do the<br />

same for them.<br />

Horseriding<br />

Fortem Australia has highlighted not only how traumatic<br />

events impact the first responder, but also their family and<br />

support networks. This is why their family support services<br />

are just as important as their first responder support services.<br />

Stand Up Paddleboarding

The Fortem Australia Transition &<br />

Employment Program aims to recognise<br />

those different skills and capabilities<br />

that first responders aquire within the<br />

job and the difficult path of navigating<br />

the end of your first response career.<br />

The first phase of this program will<br />

focus on supporting the transition of<br />

Australian Border Force, Australian<br />

Federal Police and State-based law<br />

enforcement agencies.<br />

Managing Director of Fortem Australia, John Bale, speaking to volunteers at the NSWRFS<br />

The fact that families and support<br />

people of first responders have made<br />

up the over 12,000 people that have<br />

accessed Fortem services since it’s<br />

inception is a testament to just how<br />

powerful it is to ensure that we’re<br />

looking after first responders and their<br />

families in every way possible.<br />

Fortem means “brave” in Latin, and<br />

what a perfect word to sum up the work<br />

that first responders and emergency<br />

service personnel do every day. Bravery<br />

is just par for the course. Running into<br />

the trouble that others would run away<br />

from is half the job of a first responder,<br />

and that can impact a person in<br />

different ways and at different times.<br />

So how can we show up for them?<br />

One of Fortem Australia’s most<br />

successful community initiatives is<br />

the Thank A First Responder Day, with<br />

the first one being held in June 2020.<br />

This day celebrates and acknowledges<br />

the power that a simple word can<br />

do for the people around us, as well<br />

as ourselves. Thank a FIrst Responder<br />

Day magnifies the importance of<br />

community and the impact this has<br />

on keeping our emergency service<br />

workers and first responders feeling<br />

valued. As a community this day gives<br />

us the opportunity to pause, reflect and<br />

feel grateful for their hard work and<br />

dedication. In 2022 the day will fall on<br />

June 8th and will be celebrated on the<br />

second Wednesday in June each year<br />

after.<br />

August <strong>2021</strong> was also a big month for<br />

Fortem Australia, as it saw the launch of<br />

their Transition & Employment Program,<br />

a huge boon for the not-for-profit. As<br />

Fortem’s approach to mental wellbeing<br />

is completely holistic, it makes sense<br />

that an employment and transition<br />

program should be welcomed wholeheartedly<br />

into the fold.<br />

Working within first response and<br />

emergency services ensures that<br />

you are equipped with a different set<br />

of skills. Not just practical ones that<br />

are job specific, but the subtle skills<br />

of communication, negotiation and<br />

the understanding of walking a fine<br />

line of balance in a fraught situation.<br />

The program is run by a highly skilled<br />

team who have already traversed<br />

the career transition path and have<br />

specialised training to help others<br />

navigate the ending of a career in<br />

service. The program is personalised<br />

and supported by Fortem’s wellbeing<br />

activities and clinical support<br />

services. Along with leading Australian<br />

companies across the country, this<br />

intitiative is dedicated to creating jobs,<br />

training, education, upskilling and<br />

volunteering opportunities. Mr Bale<br />

encourages “personnel considering<br />

their future to make contact and we can<br />

work together on your next steps.”<br />

Thanks to Fortem Australia there are<br />

thousands of first responders and<br />

emergency service personnel and their<br />

families who have access to a unique<br />

support system. From the provision of<br />

clinical support, mental health tools,<br />

and managing employment transitions,<br />

Fortem Australia is helping to forge an<br />

industry for the future that is mentally<br />

fit and resilient through the power of<br />

community and connection. Happy 2nd<br />

Birthday Fortem Australia!<br />

To find out more about Fortem<br />

Australia and the support they offer<br />

head to www.fortemaustralia.org.au<br />

PR<br />


& SERVICES<br />

P&R Engineering Services Pty Ltd<br />

Engineering Consultants<br />

0439388912<br />

144 Bray Road LAWTON 4501 QLD<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au <strong>26</strong>

Find the Cultural burning in southern Australia illustrated booklet and posters at<br />


Stories of cultural burning in<br />

southern Australia<br />

By Nathan Maddock, Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC<br />

New research-backed storytelling resources are helping<br />

fire agencies and land management departments better<br />

understand cultural burning.

The Cultural burning in southern<br />

Australia illustrated booklet and<br />

poster series – accessible at www.<br />

bnhcrc.com.au/resources/culturalburning-southern-australia<br />

– amplify<br />

Indigenous people’s perspectives<br />

on cultural burning by sharing six<br />

personal stories of what burning<br />

means. The stories showcase the<br />

diversity of this cultural practice and<br />

the common elements shared across<br />

Australia and are accompanied by<br />

stunning illustrations.<br />

Four of the contributions centre on<br />

burning one’s own Country across<br />

southern Australia, while two stories<br />

reflect on experiences in academic<br />

and government roles that aim to<br />

learn from and support Traditional<br />

Owners and cultural burning. The<br />

stories are shared from members of<br />

the Noongar, Gunditjmara, Palawa,<br />

Ngunnawal, Bundjalung/Woonarua<br />

and Keytej peoples.<br />

Dean Freeman (ACT Parks and<br />

Conservation Service) and Bhiamie<br />

Williamson (Australian National<br />

University) provided cultural oversight<br />

An excerpt of Aunty Carol’s story. For the full story, see the booklet and poster.

An excerpt of Vanessa Cavanagh’s story. For the full story, see the booklet and poster.<br />

in bringing the collection together,<br />

as led by Dr Jessica Weir (Western<br />

Sydney University) with support from<br />

Dr Yasmin Tambiah (WSU), through<br />

the Hazard, culture and Indigenous<br />

communities project. The Aboriginal<br />

artwork featured is by Wiradjuri artist<br />

Lani Balzan, and the story illustrations<br />

are by Nicole Burton from Petroglyph<br />

Studios.<br />

Dr Adam Leavesley, project end-user<br />

from the ACT Parks and Conservation<br />

Service explained that it is critical for<br />

fire and land management agencies<br />

to continue learning more about<br />

cultural burning.<br />

“As fire and land management<br />

agencies in southern Australia,<br />

we need to continue to build<br />

relationships with Traditional<br />

Owners. These resources will help<br />

a broader range of land managers<br />

with a starting point for learning and<br />

engagement on cultural burning,” Dr<br />

Leavesley said.<br />

“This was the genesis for these<br />

resources to be produced, as we<br />

knew that agency practitioners<br />

wanted and needed more guidance<br />

and knowledge about cultural<br />

burning to partner and engage with<br />

Indigenous groups, but there is a lack<br />

of resources to assist with this.”<br />

Dean Freeman, end-user and<br />

Wiradjuri man explained the pride<br />

Indigenous people feel about cultural<br />

burning, “If I couldn’t be connected<br />

with my past, I don’t think I’d be here<br />

today,” Mr Freeman said. “The feeling<br />

to burn with your family, that’s the<br />

ultimate. That’s how we heal.”<br />

Also included in the booklet are<br />

10 cultural burning principles, coauthored<br />

by the Indigenous authors<br />

involved in the project.<br />

Dr Weir explained that the purpose<br />

of these cultural burning principles<br />

was to provide guidance to a broad<br />

audience unfamiliar with cultural<br />

burning.<br />

“These principles help articulate<br />

some of the core matters at hand,<br />

which Aboriginal leaders have been<br />

raising for generations. These voices<br />

can be hard to hear when they are<br />

the minority in the room, and so<br />

different from the dominant culture<br />

of governments and universities.<br />

“We hope the Cultural burning in<br />

southern Australia booklet and<br />

posters will help address this by<br />

providing the opportunity to see<br />

a different viewpoint, to stand in<br />

someone else’s shoes. This is critical<br />

in developing more respectful<br />

relationships between Indigenous<br />

people and non-Indigenous people.<br />

We are all living together on Country.”<br />

Find the Cultural burning in southern<br />

Australia illustrated booklet and<br />

posters at www.bnhcrc.com.au/<br />

resources/cultural-burning-southernaustralia.<br />

You can also read Dr Weir’s blog<br />

about the collaborative process<br />

and value of the resources at www.<br />

bnhcrc.com.au/news/blogpost/<br />



Child Safety<br />

This article discusses child abuse and content that<br />

may be distressing for some readers. Please access<br />

the resources at the end of the article as needed.<br />

Written by Rasa Piggott<br />

Lecturer in Paramedicine<br />

Registered Paramedic<br />

Registered Nurse<br />

Working as an emergency paramedic quickly acquaints<br />

one with the misguided but well-meaning question;<br />

“what is the worst thing you’ve ever seen?” Apparently,<br />

the human condition renders us ever curious of trauma and<br />

tragedy.<br />

For many health professionals, this question carries the potential<br />

to conjure memories that we have worked hard to maintain a<br />

psychologically healthy relationship with. These memories are not<br />

the kind that one would necessarily choose to recount outside<br />

of a professional debrief or psychologist’s office. It also seems<br />

unkind to use another human’s story of misery to line the pockets<br />

of what can turn into chest-beating gossip.<br />

Interestingly, this question leans on the outdated idea that<br />

paramedic-led care is trauma-centric. In reality, paramedicled-care<br />

has long since shifted away from its first-aid trauma<br />

and ambulance transport origins. The profession’s modern<br />

societal purpose and scope is actively evolving into a space<br />

of evidence-based primary, acute and emergency healthcare<br />

provision. Modern paramedic-led healthcare is designed<br />

to comprehensively assess and safety-net the community’s<br />

psychosocial, emotional and all-encompassing physical health.<br />

When I contemplate the aforementioned question, my mind<br />

recounts patient interactions that encompass psychosocial<br />

health. Those heart-breaking interfaces with society’s forgotten,<br />

lost, mistreated and/or defeated. Sobering reminders of how<br />

we are all but one circumstance away from hardship. Patient<br />

interactions that have involved recognising and responding to<br />

indicators of child-abuse are heavily weighted in this memory<br />

pool.<br />

The World Health Organisation defines child maltreatment as<br />

“the abuse and neglect that occurs to children under 18 years<br />

of age. It includes all types of physical and/or emotional illtreatment,<br />

sexual abuse, neglect, negligence and commercial or<br />

other exploitation, which results in actual or potential harm to<br />

the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context<br />

of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power” (WHO, 2020). In<br />

Australia, subtypes of child abuse and neglect have been clearly<br />

categorised as: physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, sexual<br />

abuse and exposure to family violence.<br />

In 2017 – 2018, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare<br />

reported approximately <strong>26</strong>,400 children under the age of 12<br />

in Australia (excluding New South Wales) as having one or<br />

more child protection notification substantiated. 59% of these<br />

substantiations comprised emotional abuse.<br />

Historically, paramedic education hasn’t strongly focussed on<br />

recognising and responding to human rights violations, including<br />

child abuse. Today, University curriculums and organisationally<br />

led education are working to address this gap. The Royal<br />

Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse<br />

highlighted a national need to improve societal monitoring and<br />

response to child safety concerns. Additional recommendations<br />

handed down by The Commission included the need to empower<br />

individuals to make complaints, as well as increase education and<br />

training on reporting requirements and schemes.<br />

Manifestations of child abuse vary between individuals and<br />

the type of abuse experienced. Physical, behavioural and<br />

developmental symptomology are all potential manifestations<br />

of abuse. Behavioural and developmental symptomology can<br />

be easily overlooked secondary to presentation non-specificity,<br />

ambiguity or assessor cognitive bias. Examples include hyperreactivity,<br />

agitation, passivity, withdrawal, sleeping difficulties,<br />

developmental delays, eating disorders, substance abuse and<br />

self-harm.<br />

31<br />


Equally as easy to overlook are<br />

psychosomatic or somatisation<br />

symptoms. Following childhood trauma,<br />

somatic symptoms that significantly<br />

interfere with daily functioning and<br />

negatively affect social and emotional<br />

well-being can present. “Somatization<br />

is defined as the presence of a physical<br />

symptom inconsistent with a clear<br />

physical illness” (Cozzi, G., Lucarelli,<br />

A., Borrometi, F. et al <strong>2021</strong>). Common<br />

somatisation symptomology secondary<br />

to abuse include abdominal pain,<br />

headaches and general aches and<br />

pains. Children who have experienced<br />

sexual abuse experience higher rates of<br />

somatisation symptomology relative to<br />

children who have not.<br />

Any adult member of the Australian<br />

public who, on reasonable grounds,<br />

suspects that a young person is at risk of<br />

abuse should report it to the designated<br />

authority in their state or territory.<br />

Processes vary between jurisdictions.<br />

Certain cohorts within each Australian<br />

jurisdiction are mandated to report<br />

suspicion of abuse or neglect of a young<br />

person to government authorities.<br />

Paramedics working within Ambulance<br />

Services have privileged access to<br />

people’s lives behind closed doors. This<br />

unique position provides an opportunity<br />

for paramedics to scan for indicators of<br />

child abuse during every young-person<br />

interaction. We need to capitalise on<br />

this unique position and its potential<br />

to benefit child safety by ensuring<br />

paramedics have access to evidencebased,<br />

routine education regarding<br />

child abuse indicators and reporting<br />

systems. Ambulance Service structure<br />

and culture need to ensure, and in fact<br />

encourage paramedics to approach their<br />

role holistically and comprehensively<br />

so that they can adhere to this aspect<br />

of their role. KPIS and internal workings<br />

that reflect a bygone era of Ambulance<br />

Services being a transport service don’t<br />

allow for this. Additionally, working to<br />

streamline referral pathways and clarify<br />

paramedic responsibility surrounding<br />

the reporting of child abuse will help<br />

paramedics to appropriately respond to<br />

child abuse indicators.<br />

Mandatory Reporting Information for<br />

different jurisdictions can be found<br />

here: https://www.dss.gov.au/sites/<br />

default/files/documents/<br />

03_2016/child-abuse-andneglect-v1-aust-gov.pdf<br />


If conscious and routine<br />

assessment of child abuse<br />

indicators is not standard<br />

practice, manifestations<br />

of child abuse will<br />

inevitably be overlooked.<br />

Rasa Piggott<br />

kidshelpline.com.a<br />

www.lifeline.org.au<br />

www.actforkids.com.au<br />

www.amf.org.au<br />

bravehearts.org.au<br />


When it comes to preparing for disaster<br />

there are 4 distinct types of people.<br />

Which one are you?<br />

Authors:<br />

Agathe Tiana Randrianarisoa<br />

PhD student and Senior Researcher,<br />

RMIT University<br />

John Richardson<br />

Honorary Fellow, Child and Community<br />

Wellbeing Unit,<br />

Beyond Bushfires Research Program,<br />

The University of Melbourne<br />

First published on The Conversation

Imagine it’s summer in<br />

Australia and a bushfire<br />

is bearing down on your<br />

suburb. Are you the<br />

pragmatic type – you’ve<br />

swapped phone numbers<br />

with the neighbours,<br />

photocopied your ID and<br />

have your emergency<br />

plan at the ready? Or<br />

are you the sentimental<br />

type – you’ve backed up<br />

the family photos but<br />

forgotten to insure the<br />

house, or don’t have an<br />

evacuation plan for the<br />

cat?<br />

Our research out today shows when it<br />

comes to getting ready for disasters,<br />

there are four types of people. And<br />

this matters, because good disaster<br />

preparedness doesn’t just help people<br />

during and immediately after a disaster –<br />

it can also mean a quicker recovery.<br />

The research, commissioned by<br />

Australian Red Cross, examined the<br />

experiences of 165 people who lived<br />

through a disaster such as fire and flood<br />

between 2008 and 2019. We identified<br />

a number of steps people wished<br />

they’d taken to prepare for disaster,<br />

such as protecting sentimental items,<br />

planning where the family should meet if<br />

separated and better managing stress.<br />

The Black Summer bushfires, this year’s<br />

New South Wales floods, the storms<br />

around Melbourne and even COVID-19<br />

remind us how disasters can disrupt<br />

people’s lives. Hopefully, examining the<br />

hard-won lessons of those who’ve lived<br />

through the worst life can throw at us<br />

will help individuals and communities<br />

better prepare and recover from these<br />

events.<br />

Our key findings<br />

The survey questions focused on<br />

preparedness actions people took<br />

before a disaster, their experience of a<br />

disaster and recovery.<br />

Participants were 18 years or older and<br />

had experienced a disaster between<br />

January 2008 and January 2019. This<br />

allowed time for people to experience<br />

the challenges and complexity of the<br />

recovery process.<br />

Among our key findings were:<br />

• Feeling prepared leads to a<br />

reduction in stress when dealing<br />

with the recovery process. And the<br />

less people are stressed, the better<br />

their recovery up to ten years after<br />

a disaster.<br />

• Generally, the more people do to<br />

get prepared, the more they feel<br />

prepared. However, one in five<br />

respondents who reported not<br />

feeling prepared had undertaken<br />

actions that should have made<br />

them feel prepared. And 3% said<br />

they were prepared when they<br />

hadn’t undertaken any action,<br />

which mostly comes from the lack<br />

of knowledge of the most efficient<br />

preparedness actions.<br />

• The source of advice matters.<br />

More of those who received<br />

preparedness advice from<br />

Australian Red Cross – either<br />

directly or through its Get Ready<br />

app – had recovered. Those who<br />

had no preparedness training or<br />

received advice from family or<br />

friends were least likely to report<br />

having felt in control during the<br />

emergency.<br />

3 ways to prepare<br />

Three distinct groups of preparation<br />

actions emerged, which we outline<br />

below.<br />

Protect my personal matters:<br />

• develop strategies to manage stress<br />

levels<br />

• protect or back up items of<br />

sentimental value<br />

• make copies and protect important<br />

documents such as identification<br />

papers, wills, financial documents<br />

• make plans for reunification of<br />

family if separated during an<br />

emergency.<br />

Build my readiness:<br />

• identify sources of information to<br />

help prepare for and respond to an<br />

emergency<br />

• find out what hazards might affect<br />

their home and plan for them<br />

• use preparedness materials such as<br />

bushfire survival plans.<br />

Be pragmatic:<br />

• make a plan for pets/livestock/<br />

animals<br />

• swap phone numbers with<br />

neighbours<br />

• take out property insurance.<br />

Those who had taken action to prepare<br />

for disaster were asked what other<br />

actions they wished they’d taken.<br />

The top answer was having copies of<br />

important documents, such as ID and<br />

financial papers, that are potentially<br />

complicated to replicate and may be<br />

needed during recovery.<br />

The full range of answers is on the next<br />

page:<br />

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35<br />


Which preparedness type are you?<br />

Our research showed four types<br />

of persona emerged in terms of<br />

preparing for a disaster. Hopefully,<br />

identifying these groups means<br />

preparedness messaging can in future<br />

be customised, based on people’s<br />

characteristics.<br />

Have a look at the graphic below – is<br />

there a type you identify with the<br />

most?<br />

Recovery is complex<br />

Our survey asked if people felt they<br />

had recovered from the disaster.<br />

Importantly, we did not propose a<br />

standard definition of recovery, which<br />

allowed respondents to define their<br />

recovery in their own way. We then<br />

sought to determine how a person’s<br />

disaster preparation affected recovery.<br />

Nearly 18% of respondents said they<br />

had not recovered at the time of the<br />

survey. Surprisingly, 86% of those<br />

said they took action to get prepared<br />

(compared to 76% of those who had<br />

recovered). But those who had not<br />

recovered were more likely to feel their<br />

preparation actions were not enough.<br />

Importantly, 86% also experienced<br />

high levels of stress during the<br />

recovery, compared to 60% who had<br />

already recovered at the time of the<br />

survey.<br />

Interestingly, the proportion of<br />

respondents who found the recovery<br />

process slightly stressful, somewhat<br />

stressful or extremely stressful are<br />

comparable (15%, 16% and 16%<br />

respectively). However, four out of ten<br />

respondents reported high levels of<br />

stress during the recovery.<br />

The Conversation/author provided data, CC BY-ND<br />

What’s more, a greater proportion<br />

of those who had not yet recovered<br />

required government assistance after<br />

the disaster (71%), relative to those<br />

who felt they had recovered (38%).<br />

In the group of those not yet<br />

recovered, people earning less<br />

than A$52,000 a year were overrepresented.<br />

Ready for anything<br />

Our research shows being prepared<br />

can help reduce the long-term impacts<br />

of a disaster. The level of disaster<br />

preparedness in the Australian<br />

population is traditionally low, and<br />

so it’s important to demonstrate the<br />

benefits to ensure more people get<br />

ready for emergencies.<br />

Preparedness programs should have<br />

a greater focus on preparing for the<br />

long-term impacts of a disaster. And<br />

these programs should differ based<br />

on people’s characteristics and they<br />

type of preparation support they need,<br />

particularly focusing on those who have<br />

less capacity to prepare and recover<br />

from the disruption of disaster.<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

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<br />

<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 36

Book Review<br />

There are some incredible books out there about the trials and tribulations,<br />

heartbreak and satisfaction of working within the emergency services sector.<br />

We aim to bring you some great recommendations within each issue. If you<br />

have a book to recommend for our reviews, get in touch.<br />


Tales from the lighter side of paramedicine,<br />

adventure and life<br />

Author: Sunny Whitfield<br />

With a medley of experiences from the earliest days as a student<br />

paramedic, qualified officer, humanitarian health assistant, and high<br />

altitude medical officer, this book has underpinned the story of an<br />

everyday paramedic. Sunny is an accomplished paramedic, academic,<br />

writer and expedition leader.<br />

Whilst thousands of ambulance officers, emergency medical technicians<br />

and paramedics criss-cross their way through communities around the<br />

world to provide support to people, ‘Here Hold My Drink and Watch This’<br />

has captured a rare insight into the real people of paramedicine. Written<br />

from a down to earth perspective, Sunny brings to life the challenging<br />

and confronting work paramedics are faced with on a daily basis yet also<br />

finds some humour and consolation amongst the confusion and chaos.<br />

We hope you enjoy this excerpt from “Here Hold My Drink And Watch This<br />

– Tales from the lighter side of paramedicine, adventure and life”.<br />

The rain was so intense on the drive<br />

out that we could only see a few<br />

meters in front of us. Sam was driving<br />

the ambulance and I was attempting<br />

to plot our route, but the debris and<br />

downed powerlines made it rather<br />

challenging. For the last week or so,<br />

a large cyclone had been lashing<br />

the coastal suburbs. Although it had<br />

recently weakened to a rain depression,<br />

the weather was still unpredictable<br />

with high winds and rain, and our<br />

community was directly in its path.<br />

Halfway to scene we were met by a<br />

returning ambulance crew who warned<br />

us of more hazards ahead. Although<br />

there were the occasional breaks in the<br />

downpour, the gusts of wind were so<br />

strong that our ambulance was rocking<br />

as we crawled through the suburbs.<br />

Somehow, through the low visibility and<br />

torrential rain we located our patient.<br />

A young lad was lying in the gutter<br />

drenched. He had evidently crashed his<br />

bike whilst storm chasing, dislocated his<br />

shoulder and was now unable to get up.<br />

Sam manoeuvred the ambulance so the<br />

side sliding door was alongside where<br />

the young lad was currently lying in a<br />

puddle, and I jumped out to retrieve<br />

him. I was drenched in seconds. He<br />

stood with assistance and limped up<br />

the two steps of the ambulance and<br />

into the back. Whilst I assisted him<br />

onto the stretcher, he called out in<br />

pain. I was still standing as Sam began<br />

to slowly retrace our route in when<br />

suddenly he slammed the brakes on so<br />

hard that I was taken off my feet.<br />

My eyes were stinging, and I knew<br />

instantly that the pain medication I<br />

was preparing had splashed my face.<br />

However, even more concerning was<br />

the sudden ache in my butt cheek.<br />

Although I was now in the front cab of<br />

the ambulance resting uncomfortably<br />

on the gear stick awkwardly, Sam failed<br />

to even acknowledge me and seemed<br />

preoccupied.<br />

“Hoooollyshiteeeee” was all he could<br />

muster. Turning to face Sam, I followed<br />

his gaze outside and right there in<br />

front of the ambulance was a silent yet<br />

descending twister. Although it had<br />

not “touched down”, it was already<br />

This excerpt was taken with<br />

permission from, “Here Hold My<br />

Drink And Watch This – Tales from<br />

the lighter side of paramedicine,<br />

adventure and life,” a new book<br />

written by an Australian Paramedic<br />

Sunny Whitfield. The book is now<br />

available on Amazon, Booktopia,<br />

Barnes and Nobel, Kobo, and Apple<br />

iBook’s.<br />

Each paperback sold will provide<br />

funds for someone in a rural<br />

community in Nepal access to up<br />

to a year’s supply of clean and safe<br />

drinking water, and when nearly<br />

80% of illness in low GDP countries<br />

is related to poor water quality and<br />

inadequate sanitation conditions,<br />

it is a vital first step in improving<br />

community health. We reckon that<br />

is a pretty good reason to show your<br />

support and grab a copy today. Read<br />

a good yarn, support a good cause.<br />


kicking up a large debris field below<br />

it. We watched in awe struck terror<br />

as it descended from the skies. I had<br />

never seen anything so captivating<br />

yet terrifying. It descended lower and<br />

lower and when it hit the ground, the<br />

silence was shattered. The roar was like<br />

nothing I had heard before. Backyard<br />

sheds splintered like match sticks, cars<br />

smashed against trees and branches<br />

and powerlines came crashing down in<br />

showers of sparks.<br />

It was mesmerising and terrifying,<br />

chaotic and unpredictable, and<br />

all we could do was watch in utter<br />

amazement. Sam reached for the radio<br />

but as the twister closed its distance,<br />

I yelled for him to reverse. Sam gave<br />

it a good go, but the ambulance<br />

seemed to be stuck out of fear itself.<br />

Had either of us realised that the gear<br />

stick I was sitting on had been bumped<br />

into neutral it may have helped us<br />

37<br />


trouble-shoot the problem, but it’s fair<br />

to say our ability to critically analyse<br />

the current situation was somewhat<br />

diminished, if not totally obliterated.<br />

With every useless rev of the engine,<br />

the twister seemed to get closer and<br />

closer, the ambulance started shaking<br />

violently and the roar was deafening.<br />

As we accepted our impeding sudden<br />

demise, the twister seemed to take<br />

pity on us, change its course and move<br />

down the street and out of sight.<br />

The stillness and silence were suddenly<br />

deafening. Sam was gripping the<br />

steering wheel in utter silence; I am<br />

sure his handprint impressions were<br />

permanently left on the steering wheel<br />

that evening. I was the first to exit the<br />

ambulance via the rear sliding door and<br />

I sort of half fell out and half stumbled.<br />

The rain had ceased, and a gust of wind<br />

hit my sweaty face.<br />

“What the hell was that” I said to myself.<br />

“Heeellllllllp” came a cry from a nearby<br />

house now missing its roof. People<br />

were calling for help and being the only<br />

emergency service in the area, we were<br />

like a beacon for people to approach<br />

us. Still shaking, Sam gathered enough<br />

composure to call in a short expletive<br />

riddled sit-rep that triggered an allservice<br />

response to the tornado. Weird<br />

day. When I had gathered my own<br />

composure, I started to go house to<br />

house to check on people. A fire crew<br />

and another ambulance had been in<br />

the local area but missed the twister<br />

by only a few blocks. They arrived and<br />

began assisting in the house to house<br />

search which gave Sam and I a moment<br />

to take stock of the last thirty minutes.<br />

“You OK Batman?” I asked Sam. He had<br />

his hands in his lap and was staring<br />

vacantly into a cane field opposite.<br />

“Ah, yea, um, you, well ah s**t, I’m just<br />

hungry big fella, but geeze,” he offered.<br />

The on-scene commander soon arrived<br />

and instructed us to transport the<br />

same kid we had in the back of the<br />

ambulance (whoops, I had forgotten<br />

about him), into hospital and then log<br />

an incident report and go home. Fine<br />

with me.<br />

Had I known that over fifty hours later<br />

I would still be in the same uniform<br />

with some donated fluoro pink footy<br />

socks without my ambulance and being<br />

rescued by a helicopter with Sam, I<br />

would have just gone straight home<br />

that evening. But hindsight is a curious<br />

thing.<br />

Doctors dedicate their lives to<br />

saving lives and make life-or-death<br />

decisions daily, but they’re often so<br />

busy taking care of others that they<br />

neglect to take care of themselves.<br />

Burnout is running rife throughout<br />

healthcare and something needs to<br />

change – fast.<br />

In the new book, The Heart-<br />

Centredness of Medicine (Publicious<br />

Book Publishing $32.99), Dr. Olivia<br />

Ong provides a practical guide to<br />

combatting burnout. As a result of<br />

an accident that left her paralysed<br />

from the waist down, Dr Olivia found<br />

out exactly what it’s like to be on<br />

the other side of the healthcare<br />

system. She spent years as a patient<br />

in hospitals and rehab facilities in<br />

an attempt to regain some of the<br />

capabilities that had been torn away<br />

from her. This experience inspired<br />

her to address the unspoken toll that<br />

doctors bear when they don’t find<br />

the support they need to stay well.<br />

Drawing upon extensive experience<br />

as a pain physician, coach and<br />

speaker, along with Dr Olivia’s own<br />

experience with burnout, The Heart-<br />

Centredness of Medicine shares<br />

the key principles, strategies, and<br />

heart-based tools that professionals<br />

can use to help manage stress and<br />

improve your life.<br />

You can follow Dr Oliva Wong<br />

through the following links:<br />

www.drolivialeeong.com<br />

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

drolivaleeweeong<br />

LinkedIn - www.linkedin.com/in/<br />

droliviaong/<br />

Book Review<br />

THE<br />



Author: Dr Olivia Ong<br />

Known as the Heart-Centred<br />

Doctor, Melbourne-based<br />

Dr Olivia Ong is a medical<br />

leadership coach, pain physician,<br />

author and speaker.<br />

After a severe car accident in<br />

2008 when she was told she<br />

would never walk again, she<br />

defied the odds and was able to<br />

walk just two years later.<br />

Dr Ong’s global mission is to<br />

help fellow doctors suffering<br />

from emotional and physical<br />

burnout to discover the benefits<br />

of mindful self-compassion and<br />

creative development for both<br />

themselves and their patients<br />

and runs programs helping<br />

doctors transform their lives<br />

from burnout to brilliance.<br />

Through her public and private<br />

practice, Dr Ong empowers<br />

patients with medical and<br />

holistic pain management<br />

treatments to manage chronic<br />

pain, neurological disabilities<br />

and/or rehabilitation so they can<br />

live fulfilling lives. This is her first<br />

book.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 38

Enabling Access to Emergency Services in<br />

Australia’s Most Isolated Communities<br />

Communications are a necessity for emergency and non-emergency support<br />

services alike. Residents of isolated indigenous communities are some of the<br />

most disadvantaged in receiving adequate access to emergency and government<br />

services. APN’s Community-wide communications services are enabling indigenous<br />

communities to get support like never before.

Indigenous communities in isolated,<br />

remote parts of Australia find<br />

themselves in a unique position.<br />

Disconnected from metropolitan and<br />

regional emergency, government<br />

and public health services, increased<br />

reliance is placed on local community<br />

support to take the place of traditional<br />

emergency services such as police, fire<br />

and ambulance.<br />

In addition, the transition of government<br />

services towards an entirely digital model<br />

necessitates community members have<br />

reliable internet to access government<br />

platforms and assistance.<br />

APN’s solar-powered WiFi and Phone Units provide Emergency Comms, Lighting & Navigational Aids at RFDS landing strips<br />

The absence of telecommunications<br />

infrastructure in these communities, the<br />

lack of fixed phone or internet services<br />

coupled with poor or non-existent<br />

mobile coverage, is a significant barrier<br />

to engaging both local community-based<br />

and national support services.<br />

Australian Private Networks (APN) is<br />

an Australian owned-and-operated<br />

specialist in regional and remote<br />

communications who has been at the<br />

forefront of new advances in remote<br />

community communications for nearly<br />

20 years. Working with local councils and<br />

community stakeholders, APN is often<br />

engaged to design projects which can<br />

secure funding through state and federal<br />

grant programs.<br />

For over a decade, APN has been<br />

developing solutions for connecting<br />

remote indigenous communities. In<br />

2008, the Department of Prime Minister<br />

& Cabinet commissioned APN to design,<br />

develop, install and maintain Remote<br />

Community Telecommunications (RCT)<br />

for Indigenous Communities (formerly<br />

Indigenous Communications Program or<br />

ICP Telephone solutions).<br />

APN designed, constructed, and<br />

installed 301 WiFi telephones in remote<br />

Indigenous Communities across Australia<br />

in 2009, 2010, and 2011. These were<br />

designed and built by APN using its<br />

own engineers and technicians at its<br />

Melbourne facility. They have enabled<br />

communities to access emergency<br />

services like ‘000’ through year-round<br />

WiFi and phone services often for the<br />

first time.<br />

More recently, APN has supplied a similar<br />

solution to the Royal Flying Doctor<br />

Service, which provides remote landing<br />

strips with WiFi and phone services, in<br />

addition to weather information and<br />

external airstrip lighting to assist RFDS<br />

aeromedical staff.<br />

Indoor WiFi receivers installed in homes<br />

and community buildings provide indoor<br />

WiFi coverage, while external WiFi Mesh<br />

repeaters in specially chosen locations<br />

ensure ubiquitous WiFi coverage<br />

outdoors across the Community.<br />

Able to be powered by mains or solar<br />

power, these solutions can be installed<br />

in places without a continuous mains<br />

power supply.<br />

Each indoor WiFi receiver includes a<br />

telephone that allows for extension-toextension<br />

calls within the Community<br />

and calls to external landlines and mobile<br />

phones free of charge.<br />

These phones allow residents instant<br />

access to local police and other<br />

community-based support networks<br />

without physically travelling to the<br />

services’ headquarters to get assistance.<br />

They often include distinct features for<br />

indigenous community requirements,<br />

including access to government websites<br />

(.gov.au) without purchasing data and<br />

content filtering maintained by local<br />

elders.<br />

Community WiFi networks can also be set<br />

up to provide free access to local content<br />

servers, so indigenous Communities can<br />

digitise their photos, videos and stories,<br />

to preserve and pass on their tribe’s<br />

history to future generations.<br />

APN provides ongoing training in digital<br />

literacy and service support to these<br />

communities and maintenance and<br />

servicing of their hardware to ensure the<br />

Community can take full advantage of<br />

the solution into the future.<br />

This versatile solution is modular and<br />

scalable, with additional APN backhaul<br />

services able to be added to support<br />

greater bandwidth requirements,<br />

and more repeaters to support new<br />

residences or extend the outdoor WiFi<br />

coverage further.<br />

Organisations can also configure the<br />

community-wide service for other<br />

uses, such as Public Emergency<br />

Communications over large distances<br />

or as a method of providing<br />

communications in case of emergency<br />

to isolated places of interest or road<br />

accident blackspots, where mobile<br />

reception is unavailable.<br />

APN offers a range of solutions to<br />

support emergency services, including<br />

portable services that provide WiFi<br />

connectivity through a satellite<br />

connection anywhere in Australia.<br />

Easily set up using a ground-mount<br />

or fixed to a trailer or vehicle, APN’s<br />

portable service offers remote<br />

connectivity that is transportable<br />

anywhere you need it.<br />

Learn more about APN’s remote<br />

communications solutions on their<br />

website or by contacting their Corporate<br />

Solutions team on (03) 8566 8312 or<br />

emailing corporatesales@apn.net.au.<br />

APN has also been designing, installing<br />

and maintaining Community-wide<br />

WiFi and phone services, including<br />

recent projects jointly funded by State<br />

and Federal Governments through<br />

the Australian Government’s Regional<br />

Connectivity Program (RCP Program).<br />

External repeaters offer outdoor WiFi coverage across the entire community (left), while indoor units provide WiFi service<br />

as well as a fixed telephone service and USB power outlet (right)


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

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

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

If you would like to be featured or know someone who deserves some<br />

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


The Royal Flying Doctor Service is one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical<br />

organisations globally, providing extensive primary health care and 24-hour emergency service<br />

to people who live, work, and travel across the 7.69 million square kilometres of Australia.<br />

Australia is a vast and expansive<br />

country, 7.69 million square kilometers<br />

is a lot of space to cover when it comes<br />

to providing services to the population.<br />

For those Australians who live and<br />

work in remote locations, access to<br />

health services is limited and this lack<br />

of access can be life threatening. If<br />

something goes wrong, it can go terribly<br />

wrong and help is a long way away.<br />

The Royal Flying Doctor Service of<br />

Australia (RFDS) is the saving grace of<br />

these communities, providing a range<br />

of health services such as telehealth<br />

consultations, a fly-in fly-out GP and<br />

Nurse clinics, and emergency and nonemergency<br />

patient transfers.<br />

The service was established by<br />

Reverend John Flynn who was<br />

commissioned by the Presbyterian<br />

Church to look after the needs of those<br />

in the outback. Reverend John Flynn is<br />

the man on our 20 dollar note and the<br />

note itself tells part of the story of the<br />

Royal Flying Doctor Service in Australia.<br />

Reverend Flynn was witness to the<br />

plight of those pioneers in the outback<br />

and bush communities and wanted to<br />

provide them with a “mantle of safety”.<br />

The RFDS was born out of Flynn’s vision,<br />

the story of a stockman, Jimmy Darcy<br />

and an idea from a young Lieutenant,<br />

Clifford Peel.<br />

Lieutenant Peel wrote to Flynn<br />

suggesting aviation could help to<br />

provide services in these remote<br />

locations. Peel was killed in the war the<br />

following year, unaware his idea would<br />

go on to help so many future lives.<br />

41<br />


Jimmy Darcy was a stockman from the<br />

Kimberley who suffered internal injuries<br />

when he fell during a cattle stampede.<br />

Darcy had to be transported to<br />

Halls Creek which was a long and<br />

uncomfortable 12 hour dray ride away.<br />

Darcy would need surgery, however<br />

that was impossible as the closest<br />

doctor was thousands of miles away.<br />

The postmaster at Halls Creek was<br />

only trained in first aid. Through<br />

communication via morse code he had<br />

to perform surgery on Darcy using a<br />

pen knife under instruction from a Dr<br />

Holland far away in Perth. Incredibly<br />

Jimmy survived the surgery, however<br />

required further care.<br />

Dr Holland made the trip from Perth<br />

to Halls Creek, which took almost two<br />

weeks and many mishaps along the<br />

way. When he finally arrived, Jimmy<br />

Darcy had died only hours earlier.<br />

It was this story that really cemented<br />

the idea and the need for the Royal<br />

Flying Doctor Service in the heart and<br />

mind of Reverend Flynn.<br />

The service was originally called the<br />

AMS (Australian Medical Service) when<br />

it first began experimentally in 1928. It<br />

was renamed the Flying Doctor Service<br />

in 1942 and the term Royal was added<br />

in 1955.<br />

Since it’s small but strong beginning<br />

with only one plane, the RFDS has<br />

grown to be one of the largest and<br />

most comprehensive aeromedical<br />

organisation in the world.<br />

Today the RFDS has a fleet of 79 aircraft<br />

with 23 air bases throughout the<br />

country. Over the last year they have<br />

had a total of 337,686 patient contacts<br />

made through RFDS clinics, aeromedical<br />

transports and telehealth consultations<br />

and have flown a total of 28,953,688<br />

km’s just in a year!<br />

The Royal Flying Doctor Service is a<br />

completely unique emergency service<br />

catering for a completely unique set<br />

of needs in remote communities.<br />

The RFDS are supported by the<br />

Commonwealth, State and Territory<br />

governments, however they are a notfor-profit<br />

who rely heavily on donations<br />

and support from the community in<br />

order to maintain their service and be<br />

able to purchase the latest in medical<br />

equipment.<br />

If you would like to support this<br />

incredible organisation you can head<br />

to the website for more information.<br />

You can also listen to the Royal Flying<br />

Doctor Service Podcast for more<br />

incredible stories.<br />

www.flyingdoctor.org.au<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

www.brucebuddenautomotive.com.au<br />




4<strong>26</strong>0 9464 0410 532 649<br />

9 Hamilton St, Dapto NSW 2530<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 42

TRAVEL<br />


Breaks<br />

Words: Brooke Turnbull<br />

K’GARI<br />


Essential travel used to have a<br />

completely different meaning than what<br />

it does today. Pre-pandemic, essential<br />

travel was the type of travel that you<br />

had on your bucket list. Well, with the<br />

country on the verge of opening up, we<br />

think it’s about time we went back to this<br />

original meaning.<br />

Travel is essential for new life<br />

experiences, it’s essential for mental<br />

health reasons and it’s essential for<br />

connection, both to country and to<br />

people. Haven’t we all missed it!<br />

This month we’re heading to an<br />

incredible island destination in<br />

Queensland; K’gari.<br />

K’gari is the traditional name for Fraser<br />

Island and is pronounced ‘gurri’. The<br />

name very aptly means paradise as told<br />

in a beautiful Dreamtime story by the<br />

traditional custodians, the Butchulla<br />

people.<br />

Whether you’re a luxury traveller or like<br />

the more adventurous side of life, K’gari<br />

will have you wishing you had longer to<br />

explore, no matter how long you booked<br />

for.<br />

Famous shipwreck,<br />

the S.S. Maheno beached<br />

near The Pinnacles.

Location:<br />

K’gari is located about 3 hours north of<br />

Brisbane. While difficult to travel there<br />

without a car (so if you’re coming from<br />

interstate we recommend a 4WD hire)<br />

there are plenty of companies that offer<br />

tours to the island from Brisbane if you’re<br />

flying into the city. Otherwise, the drive<br />

through the Sunshine Coast region is an<br />

adventure in itself if you have a car or are<br />

a local traveller. At 123kilometres long<br />

and 22 kilometres wide, it’s Queensland’s<br />

largest island and also takes out the title<br />

of the largest sand island in the world.<br />

Given that it’s made up entirely of sand<br />

and the fact that it’s situated at the base<br />

of the Great Barrier Reef, you can pretty<br />

much ensure that there are plenty of<br />

warm, inviting beaches to explore.<br />

Places to Stay:<br />

Of course we are going to give you the<br />

usual three options however this time<br />

around it comes with a bit of a twist.<br />

While, yes, the luxury accommodation is<br />

sublime, the budget version we’re going<br />

to provide you with is a little bit…off the<br />

beaten track.<br />

Our luxury pick is the Kingfisher Bay<br />

Resort. While K’gari might be the<br />

world’s largest sand island, the resort<br />

accommodation is split up into two main<br />

resorts. Kingfisher is one of the two and<br />

delivers on it’s luxury promise perfectly.<br />

With four swimming pools, a variety of<br />

accommodation options including selfcontained<br />

villas and hotel rooms, as well<br />

as three restaurants to truly explore the<br />

delicacies of Australian cuisine, Kingfisher<br />

Bay Resort has got it all.<br />

It’s suitable for a couples getaway as<br />

well as a family holiday, and, as a bonus,<br />

if you aren’t 4-wheel driving on the<br />

island, Kingfisher Bay Resort is where<br />

many of the tour companies provide<br />

accommodation for their overnight stays.<br />

Starting at $229 per night in low season<br />

with an option of a buffet breakfast for<br />

a few bucks, Kingfisher Bay Resort is a<br />

great luxury pick.<br />

The incredible white sands and clear water of Lake Mackenzie - perfect for a paddleboard.<br />

for studio apartments all the way up to<br />

two bedrooms, so once again a great<br />

option for a family holiday, but book early<br />

for school holidays, Eurong is a popular<br />

place to land on Fraser and with rooms<br />

starting from $149 in low season it’s not<br />

hard to see why.<br />

Now, last but not least is our budget<br />

option. This one is aimed specifically<br />

at those of you who are self-driving<br />

to the island and are looking for a bit<br />

of adventure. It’s no secret that K’gari<br />

has an abundance of stunning places<br />

to stay and the majority of them are<br />

purely for campers. It costs around<br />

$6.50 per person, per night through the<br />

Queensland National Parks website and<br />

there are hundreds of different places<br />

for you to set up.<br />

You can stay inland at Central Station<br />

near to the crystal clear creek that runs<br />

centrally through the camp, or, if you<br />

prefer the sound of the ocean with<br />

your BBQ dinner then beach camping<br />

is for you. Plan in advance to get the<br />

best spots and book before everyone.<br />

We recommend the Great Sandy Cape<br />

at the top of the island. Away from the<br />

wind and blustery surf conditions, if<br />

you’re travelling in Spring or Summer,<br />

the beach camping on the top of the<br />

island really makes you feel as if you’re<br />

4 Wheel Driving and catching the sunset on the largest sand island in the world.<br />

Our mid-range accommodation option is<br />

situated at the lower end of the island in<br />

Eurong Beach Resort which is perfectly<br />

positioned right on 75 Mile Beach. Again,<br />

many tour operators choose Eurong as<br />

an overnight accommodation provider<br />

for their tours, so even if you’re not selfdriving<br />

it’s the perfect place to kick off<br />

your stay.<br />

Eurong has two swimming pools, tennis<br />

courts and BBQ facilities. Not to mention<br />

is the best place to get a pie in the whole<br />

of the Fraser Coast. There are options

staying on a proper tropical island. The fact that there aren’t<br />

a huge amount of camp sites here is perfect too, because<br />

it means lots of privacy to just enjoy the surrounds. Awinya<br />

Creek is our second option, and if you’re staying on the island<br />

for a few nights (which you most definitely should) then we<br />

recommend heading to the Sandy Cape for a night or two<br />

and then popping over to Awinya Creek for the next couple of<br />

nights to really soak up the adventure life. Awinya is situated<br />

on the western side of the island, and while the sand is softer<br />

here and you definitely need to keep an eye on those tides,<br />

once you hit your campsite it will have been well worth the<br />

travel. Hot tip: A sunset over the water on the western side of<br />

the island is like no other sunset you’ve seen.<br />

Things to Do:<br />

Kingfisher Bay Resort for that luxury 5 star experience - Image Facebook<br />

So, you’ve organised your accommodation and you’ve<br />

decided whether you’re going to drive yourself, (either with<br />

your own 4WD vehicle or through hiring on the mainland) or<br />

if you’re going to take the option of a tour company. Now, all<br />

that’s left to decide is what to do. If you’ve purchased a tour<br />

for a few days then this section is probably not for you. The<br />

best part of tours is that the itinerary is set out for you, so all<br />

you have to do is relax and enjoy. The biggest decision you’ll<br />

most likely make is what delicious menu item you’re going to<br />

pick for lunch and dinner.<br />

Self-driving is a bit different, with so much to explore on the<br />

island, you can set your own itinerary. Check the tides in<br />

advance in order to plan when you need to travel through to<br />

different parts of the island. This is the best tip we can give,<br />

especially if you’re travelling from interstate and don’t have<br />

much time, you want to maximise the time you do have.<br />

4-wheel driving itself is one of the best things to do on<br />

the island. With so many tracks and off-road avenues to<br />

adventure onto, as well as beach driving (not to mention,<br />

pulling up on the beach for a spot of lunch and to throw a<br />

line in) 4WDing on K’gari is the number one activity for locals<br />

and tourists alike. The best part about this is even if you’re<br />

just travelling to get somewhere, you’ll still do plenty of the<br />

adventure track touring just by driving to your destination.<br />

Fraser Island has more than 100 lakes, so there are plenty of<br />

them to take a dip in, and too many for us to tell you about<br />

here. So we’ll hit the highlights.<br />

Lake McKenzie is world famous for its crystal clear water,<br />

made up of thousands of years of sand sediment settling on<br />

the lake floor, it’s literally just a giant, beautiful puddle of rain<br />

See K’gari from a different point of view - Scenic flight with Air Fraser - Image Facebook<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

45<br />


water. So pure is the water in Lake McKenzie that not much<br />

can live in it, which means even when it hits the dark part of<br />

the water there’s nothing to be scared of, so you can let your<br />

feet dangle off the side of your paddle board as you explore<br />

the lake. Lake Wabby (disappearing due to its neighbouring<br />

sandblow that’s slowly closing in on the lake, this one is one<br />

not to be missed), Basin Lake (a black water perched lake)<br />

and Lake Boomanjin (which is the world’s largest perched<br />

lake at 190 hectares!). In addition to the lakes, there’s also the<br />

creeks. Eli Creek is largest creek on the island with 166 million<br />

litres of water per day flowing out to sea. It’s surface is so<br />

clear that upon initial inspection it actually looks muddy, but<br />

that’s just the sand colour beneath!<br />

The Champagne Pools are a natural site also not to be<br />

missed. Head up there (they’re at the top of the island) on low<br />

tide for a stunning view and calm waters. There’s plenty of<br />

marine life surrounding the island, but the Champagne Pools<br />

and Indian Head, just next door, are the best places to see it.<br />

Depending on what time of year you’re heading to the island<br />

you’ll see a variety of sharks, dolphins, whales, turtles and<br />

other sea mammals.<br />

Finally, for something exceptional and just a little bit touristy,<br />

book yourself a scenic flight of the island. Air Fraser Island<br />

runs beach take offs and landings, and will give you a view of<br />

the island that no one else gets to see, the one from the top.<br />

With it’s peaks and valleys, colours of the sea where it meets<br />

the sand and the colours of the sand where it meets the cliff<br />

sides, a scenic flight is one of the best ways to see the island<br />

in it’s entirety in just a few short minutes. If you’re running low<br />

on time, this is highly recommended.<br />

The walkway to Champagne Pools, located at the top of the island.<br />

So now we’ve got your drooling over Fraser Island, and now<br />

that essential travel has its old meaning back, ditch the toilet<br />

paper fight and get amongst it. We can’t wait to see you there.<br />

NB: We would be remiss if we didn’t give you a heads up<br />

of the dangers of the island. In addition to washouts on<br />

the beach that can be life threatening to inexperienced<br />

4-wheel drivers, there’s also the fact that swimming<br />

on the main beach along 75 Mile Beach is highly not<br />

recommended due to huge waves, hidden rips and<br />

massive tides. Then there’s the infamous dingoes, if<br />

you’re heading to Fraser Island keep away from dingoes,<br />

never feed them and pick up some information on the<br />

mainland about the dangers before you go. Head there<br />

to have fun, but make sure it’s safe.<br />

Dingoes are infamous on K’gari, take precautions and don’t feed them.<br />

The<br />



www.strathypub.com.au<br />

03 5874 5203<br />

37 Main St, Strathmerton VIC 3641<br />

info@strathypub.com.au<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 46

a simple<br />

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The home test kit sent in the<br />

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Sometimes bowel cancer doesn’t have any symptoms—<br />

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early 90% of bowel cancers can be successfully treated.<br />

So don’t underestimate the power of your poo,<br />

it could save your life.<br />

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For information in your language,<br />

phone the Translating and Interpreting Service: 13 14 50<br />

or visit www.health.gov.au/nbcsp-translations

ARE THEY<br />

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