AESM Vol 27, ISSUE 6 2021

The latest Australian Emergency Services Magazine Vol 27 Issue 6 2021. The latest in emergency services news and events. In this edition we take a closer look at the vaccine mandates for emergency services with leading law expert in emergency and disaster management, Dr Michael Eburn. We also look back at the Black Summer bushfires, their connection to climate change and what is happening now for those who were impacted. Our regular columnist Associate Professor Erin-Cotter Smith with her last article for Let's Talk Mental Health. The Bushfire Natural Hazards CRC introduces us to the new Natural Hazards Research Australia and Volume 1 of the Independent review of Ambulance Victoria has been released. You can check out the 24 recommendations here. 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 27 Issue 6 2021. The latest in emergency services news and events. In this edition we take a closer look at the vaccine mandates for emergency services with leading law expert in emergency and disaster management, Dr Michael Eburn. We also look back at the Black Summer bushfires, their connection to climate change and what is happening now for those who were impacted. Our regular columnist Associate Professor Erin-Cotter Smith with her last article for Let's Talk Mental Health. The Bushfire Natural Hazards CRC introduces us to the new Natural Hazards Research Australia and Volume 1 of the Independent review of Ambulance Victoria has been released. You can check out the 24 recommendations here. 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 27: ISSUE 6, 2021






















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Rebuilding and

Reaching Net Zero

We look back at

the Black Summer

Bushfires, the

connection to climate

change and what is

happening now.


Independent Review

of Ambulance


Volume 1 of the report

from the Independent

Review of Workplace

equality within

Ambulance Victoria has

been released with 24




5 Mistakes We Make

to Precipitate the

Path to Burnout

Alison Coughlan the

author of The Health

Hazard: Take control,

restore wellbeing and

optimise impact, guides

us through 5 common

mistakes that can lead to



Introducing Natural

Hazards Research


Australia has a new national

centre for natural hazards

resilience and disaster risk

reduction – Natural Hazards

Research Australia. New

research is now underway,

with plenty of exciting

funding opportunities

already available.



Taking Protective

Action During Floods

and Storms

Public safety messages

for floods and storms

will be broadcast on

ABC Radio this severe

weather season, backed

by Bushfire and Natural

Hazards CRC research.


New Technology Lets

Police Link DNA

to Appearance &


The Australian Federal

Police recently announced

plans to use DNA samples

collected at crime scenes

to make predictions about

potential suspects.



• Editor’s Note


• Recent Events

Victoria releases drowning report

Diversity and Resilience for Volunteer

Jurien Bay Marine Rescue gets new RHIB

Community rallies for cyclone preparation

New model keeping firefighters ahead of the front

• Emergency Law with Dr Michael Eburn

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

• On the Frontline - Our Gendered Reality

AESM Book Reviews

• In the Spotlight - Disaster Relief Australia

• Emergency Breaks - Christmas Travel Wish List














Stay connected and up

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Associate Professor Erin Cotter-Smith

Course Coordinator of the School of

Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan



Dr Michael Eburn - PHD, leading expert in

law relating to emergency management &

emergency services.


An Insight into the World of Paramedicine

with Rasa Piggott, Registered Paramedic,

Nurse and Lecturer in Paramedicine at

Australian Catholic University.


Editorial Content


Advertising Enquiries


Distribution Enquiries



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to showcase their unique

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Explore local surrounds, or

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Welcome to the last edition for the year of the Australian

Emergency Services Magazine. We are proud to be an

independent publication that seeks to acknowledge and

promote the incredible work of the emergency services

industry and the disaster management sector in Australia.

With Summer upon us we are acutely aware of how busy

our emergency services personnel are with bushfire season,

storm and cyclone season and of course more people in the

water means a busy period for surf life saving and marine

rescue. The Christmas period is statistically the worst time

for drownings in Australia. There are ways to prevent this

though to not only save yourself and loved ones but to also

help our surf life savers and rescue personnel. Article on

page 37.

This is the last edition that our very good friend Associate

Professor Erin Cotter-Smith will be contributing. If you are

a regular reader I’m sure you look forward to each edition

of Erin’s column, ‘Let’s Talk Mental Health’. Erin has taken

on a fantastic new position as CEO of the DART Centre for

Journalism and Trauma, Asia Pacific. Her new role will see

her very busy and unfortunately this means we no longer

have her guiding us toward better mental health. We

want to take the opportunity to say a very big thank you

to Erin from all of the team for your valuable contribution

and insights. It has been an absolute pleasure having

you as part of our regular contributor team. Never fear

however, Dr Lisa Holmes, Unit Coordinator and Lecturer of

Paramedical Science at Edith Cowan University will be taking

over this column in the new year and we can’t wait!

From all of us here at the Australian Emergency Services

Magazine we wish you a very safe and happy Christmas and

New Year with your loved ones.

Happy reading and we will see you in the new year!

Bianca Peterson

Editor in Chief



The Australian Emergency Services Magazine

is a community educational resource

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We are always looking for new

and relevant content that

our readers will enjoy. If you

would like to be featured in

the magazine there are many

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perhaps be featured in our “In

the Spotlight” regular column.

Please submit all articles or

expressions of interest to the

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everything to teach about

being safe and it just takes

that split second.

Temporary memorial at Sandridge Beach with 61 rescue tubes representing lives lost




Life Saving Victoria (LSV)

has released the 2020 – 21

Victorian Drowning Report;

industry leading research

exploring the staggering

increase in drowning figures

during the past financial year.

The alarming report reveals

the tragic circumstances

behind Victoria’s highest

drowning toll in 20 years,

noting that young

children and men were

overrepresented in

drownings, and that 48 per

cent of people drowned

within their residential


Life Saving Victoria honoured

the 61 people who lost their

lives to drowning and whose

stories make up the report,

including two-year-old Hunter

Boyle, with a temporary

memorial of 61 rescue tubes

erected at Sandridge Beach

on the 1st December.

Life Saving Victoria’s general

manager, health promotion

and communications, Dr

Bernadette Matthews said

that it’s vital Victorians

remember that the numbers

represent real people who

are tragically no longer here.

“While anyone can drown,

no one should. Life Saving

Victoria is urging the

community not to become

complacent, and to

remember that these are

more than just numbers,

they are people,” Dr

Matthews said.

“Our intention in compiling

this drowning report is to

ensure that part of their

legacy lives on to help

prevent future drownings

in Victorian waters. By

examining areas of risk, we

can help to inform our safety

strategies and hopefully

prevent further tragedy

moving forward.

“Life Saving Victoria has

been working closely with

government, the water

safety sector and the aquatic

industry to address a number

of preventative measures,

in a bid to stop people from

requiring assistance in the

first place.”

Devastatingly, a quarter of

the drowning deaths were

children aged between zero

and 14 years old.

“It is even more heartwrenching

to highlight that of

these fatalities, 15 involved

children aged 0 – 14 years,

equating to a quarter of all

drownings and accounting

for the highest age-specific

fatal drowning rate this year,”

Dr Matthews said.

Ash Napolitano, mother

of Hunter Boyle who was

just two years-old when

he drowned at the dam on

his grandfather’s property,

knows firsthand the

heartache that comes when

a child is lost to drowning

and is urging all parents and

carers to know the risks.

“I can’t describe the pain that

comes with losing our boy,

even after a year, it never

gets easier,” Ms Napolitano


“It’s surreal to think that he

is one of the numbers in this

report, because he was and

is so much more than that.

“I can’t tell other parents

or carers strongly enough,

sometimes you can do

“It has been incredibly

overwhelming, but I’ve tried

to channel some of this

grief into positive change, by

setting up the Hunter Boyle

Children’s Swim Program

with the support of Kidsafe

Victoria. Piloted in our

hometown of Shepparton,

our aim is to fund 12 months’

worth of swimming lessons

and water safety education

to vulnerable children

between the ages of 6

months - 12 years. We know

we can educate our most

vulnerable little people about

the dangers of water and

support them to learn a life

skill,” Ms Napolitano said.

Life Saving Victoria’s message

to all Victorians ahead of

summer is to remember

the reason you want to get

back out of the water safely,

and to keep kids away from

danger. “Do not become a

memory, please remember

that a moment of distraction

can lead to a lifetime of

heartbreak,” Dr Matthews


“Actively supervise children

around water in the home

and when at the beach,

river or pool. Stay safe by

learning swimming, water

safety and lifesaving skills,

always seek out patrolled

beaches and swim between

the red and yellow flags.

If boating or rock fishing,

wear safety gear such as a

fully-functioning, approved

life jacket and gripped shoes,

and remember that drugs

and alcohol don’t mix with


Life Saving Victoria kicked

off an extended lifesaving

patrol season on Saturday

27 November, supported by

the Victorian Government’s

largest ever investment in

water safety.

To find patrolled locations

this summer visit beachsafe.








A new research paper from

Volunteering Australia

aims to provide a more

detailed portrayal of the

volunteering experience

during the COVID-19


The COVID-19 pandemic

has had profound

implications for the

volunteering ecosystem

as we have witnessed

a dramatic decline in

volunteering. Whilst this

data is without doubt

cause for concern, it is not

the full story.

Volunteering Australia’s

latest research paper

‘Continuity and change:

volunteering during the

COVID-19 pandemic’

shows there is more to the

experience of volunteers

during the pandemic than

figures alone can capture.

Millions of people have

continued to volunteer

since the pandemic hit our

shores early in 2020 and

this new research shares

their story. Based on 800

qualitative responses

gathered as part of the Life

in Australia survey, the

research reveals a striking

picture of diversity and


Responses illustrate the

diversity of experience,

highlighting wellbeing

benefits of volunteering

during the pandemic, the

advantages and challenges

of remote volunteering,

the difficulties and

hazards of providing

voluntary support during

the disaster, and the

ongoing shifts in volunteer

engagement which may

remain significant as

the pandemic response


These insights will be

crucial to understanding

the changes in

volunteering in the

future, and in planning to

support a more dynamic,

accessible, and resilient

volunteering ecosystem.




A new Rigid Hulled Inflatable

Boat (RHIB) has been

deployed to Marine Rescue

Jurien Bay, giving local

volunteers greater capability

to keep the community safe

over summer.

Built locally by Dongara

Marine, the 6.8-metre

vessel is trailerable and can

be launched from beaches,

improving response

times for incidents in the

Cervantes area, south of

Jurien Bay.

Importantly, the RHIB has

been designed with input

from local marine rescue

volunteers and is custombuilt

to meet their needs.

This input has been vital,

with the final design

incorporating a trailer for

quick transport via road

and the capability to launch

from beaches.

The vessel is equipped with

state-of-the-art electronics

and twin 150-horsepower


To give the community a

sense of ownership of the

vessel, a local competition

to name the RHIB has been

running in Jurien Bay in

recent weeks.

The winning entry will be

unveiled at a special event

at Jurien Bay Marina Boat

Ramp on Saturday 18

December 2021.

Fire and Emergency

Services Commissioner

Darren Klemm AFSM said

the vessel would be a vital

addition to marine rescue

services in the Mid West

this summer.

“Marine Rescue Jurien

Bay are a busy group and

provide a very important

service to the local

community. This vessel

gives them another tool

to keep people safe,”

Commissioner Klemm said.

“The ability to launch this

vessel from the beach and

transport by road will help

volunteers respond quicker

to a range of maritime


“We’re extremely pleased

that the volunteers who

use this boat have had a

say in how the vessel is

designed and built.

“That way when it comes

into service the boat

is suited to the local

conditions and to the

needs of the volunteers

who will ultimately use it to

keep the community safe.”

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 6


“The key is to regularly

inspect, maintain and repair

your property. Check key

structural elements and

ensure there are no loose

items on your property that

could cause damage in high


“We know people are

overwhelmed by the

impact of Cyclone Seroja.

By checking your property

and talking with builders,

insurers and emergency

services you’re not only

preparing physically,

but building emotional

resilience as well.”

Image: Bureau of Meteorology




Members of WA’s Mid

West community and

a local netball star are

spearheading a Department

of Fire and Emergency

Services campaign

encouraging people to

prepare for this summer’s

cyclone season.

A series of online videos

have been created

specifically for the region

and acknowledge the

challenge families and

businesses face preparing

properties for potential

storms, flooding and

cyclones while continuing

their recovery from Cyclone


The tailored videos for the

Mid West region, featuring

a local State Emergency

Services volunteer, DFES

District Officer, Department

of Communities Recovery

Officer and a primary

producer will be seen in the

digital advertising campaign

and on DFES social


West Coast Fever netball

star Emma Cosh, who

was born and raised

in Geraldton, has also

added her support to the

campaign, which runs until


Fire and Emergency

Services Deputy

Commissioner Operations

Craig Waters AFSM stressed

the importance of preparing

for the cyclone season.

“For many Mid West

residents their current

situation would have

been unimaginable to

them a year ago,” Deputy

Commissioner Waters said.

“The rebuilding of homes

and businesses is underway

and the timetable for the

recovery process is different

for each individual, but

unfortunately the seasons

don’t wait.

“It’s important that

families and businesses

take the opportunity now

to do some pre-season

preparation to their

properties to mitigate the

potential for damage from

cyclones this summer.

Ms Cosh said that while she

was now based in Perth

playing for the Fever in the

national Super League, she

still had strong ties to the

Mid West. She encouraged

residents to prepare for

the summer season after

seeing family and friends

impacted by Cyclone Seroja.

“I think it’s important to

prepare your home for

another severe weather

season this summer. I find it

similar to the work athletes

put into pre-season for

their sport,” Ms Cosh said.

“I know it can be a challenge

and everyone finds preseason

tough. But putting

in the work now means that

you will be prepared for

whatever the season ahead

throws your way.”

For information about how

to prepare yourself and

your property visit www.



The Mid West videos can

be viewed on the DFES

YouTube page.

For more information about

the campaign contact

DFES Media and Corporate

Communications on 9395

9543 or email media@dfes.




Australia’s national science

agency CSIRO and the

NSW Rural Fire Service

have released Australia’s

most advanced model for

predicting the speed and

behaviour of eucalypt forest

fires, helping to save lives and

property during bushfires.





Eucalypts make up more

than 70 per cent of

Australia’s forests and some

of Australia’s most extreme

fire events, such as the 2009

Black Saturday fires and the

most severe of the 2019/20

bushfires, occurred in this

type of vegetation.

The Vesta Mark 2 model, a

mathematical description

of how a fire responds to

environmental conditions,

will be rolled out nationally

this summer and help fire

control rooms across the

country to predict and

suppress bushfires as they

spread across the landscape,

and to warn the public.

CSIRO bushfire behaviour

researcher Dr Andrew

Sullivan said although much

of eastern Australia was

expecting a wetter than

normal summer this year,

bushfires were an everpresent

danger throughout

summer and were increasing

in frequency and severity.

“Forests have critical

ecological and socioeconomic

roles, and often

connect to areas where large

numbers of Australians live,”

he said.

“Forest fires are complex

and difficult to control and

extinguish, and firefighters

often have to battle steep

terrain and challenging

conditions just to reach the

fire,” Dr Sullivan said.

“Critically, this model can

accurately predict the

speed that a fire front will

advance across a landscape,

which is essential to enable

authorities to efficiently

identify threats, issue

bushfire warning messages,

signal evacuations, and plan

NSW RFS State Operations Centre within the NSW RFS Headquarters, Sydney Olympic Park. Pictured full of people during the 2019/20 fire

season. Image NSW RFS

fire suppression actions.”

Data inputs such as

forecast weather and wind

information come from the

Bureau of Meteorology, while

information on the state of

fuels within the forest and

existing behaviour of a fire

can come from vegetation

databases and fireground

reports. Fire behaviour

analysts in an incident

management team, often

stationed at an operations

centre near the fire, collate

this information and then

run the model to generate

a prediction of the likely

progression of the fire across

the landscape.

CSIRO bushfire behaviour

researcher and leader of the

project Dr Miguel Cruz said

the model used the latest

available science on bushfire


“This model was built

using analysis of the most

extensive set of data

gathered from observations

of large high intensity

experimental fires and

wildfires, collated from

around the country over the

past 40 years,” Dr Cruz said.

“Our research and findings

during the 2019/20

bushfire season were

also instrumental in the

development of this tool.”

NSW RFS Deputy

Commissioner Preparedness

and Capability, Kyle Stewart,

said the new model would

be key to providing essential

information about expected

fire behaviour to support

decision making during

bushfire outbreaks this fire


“Knowing with confidence

where a bushfire will be

ahead of time is critical

to the safe and effective

deployment of our fire

crews and the safety of our

communities,” Mr Stewart


“This is an excellent example

of science agencies and the

Rural Fire Service working

together to improve bushfire

management in Australia.

It is the latest in a long line

of successful collaborations

between the RFS and CSIRO.”

The original ‘Project Vesta’

in the 1990s was the largest

ever experimental program

studying forest fire behaviour

in Australia.

Vesta Mk 2 has been

incorporated into Spark,

Australia’s newest wildfire

operational simulator

being developed by CSIRO

and the Australasian Fire

and Emergency Service

Authorities Council AFAC,

and Amicus, which is CSIRO’s

bushfire knowledge support

system to help support

future bushfire fighting


A guide to the use and operation Vesta

Mk 2 can be found at https://research.


The scientific article about Vesta Mk 2

can be found as an open access article

at https://www.publish.csiro.au/WF/


www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 8















The COVID-19 pandemic has seen restrictions and obligations

imposed on the entire Australian community. Many of the steps

taken to control the pandemic are unprecedented within Australian

living memory. One response to the pandemic has been to require

people in some professions to be vaccinated against COVID if they

are to continue in their role. This article will review legal challenges

to these directions.


Honorary Associate


ANU College of Law

Adjunct Associate


UNE School of Law

Leading Expert in Law

Relating to Emergency

Management &

Emergency Services



Work health and safety

A person conducting a

business or undertaking (a

PCBU) is required to take

reasonable steps to ensure

that workers (including

volunteers) are not

exposed to unnecessary

risks to health and safety

due to their work.

Further there is an

obligation to take

reasonable steps to ensure

that the work does not

expose others, such as

clients and customers,

to a risk to their health

and safety. To meet

those obligations, a PCBU

may require employees

or volunteers to get


Before implementing WHS

procedures and policies

or changing employment

conditions, a PCBU must

consult with affected

workers (ss 47 and 49).

It was this failure to

consult, rather than any

fundamental rule against

vaccine mandates, that led

to a ruling that a mandate

imposed by BHP was not

lawful. 1

Further, a PCBU that

requires all employees to

have a vaccine will have to

demonstrate why, whether

alone or with other control

measures, that was a

‘reasonably practicable’

step to protect either the

workers, or those affected

by the work, from the risk

of COVID-19.

Deputy President Dean of

the Fair Work Commission

(in dissent) said:

It is very clear that a range

of control measures will

need to be implemented

by employers to meet

their health and safety

obligations… [C]ontrols

(based on a proper

assessment of the risk in

a particular workplace)

might include appropriate

air ventilation and filters,

personal protective

equipment including masks,

staggered meal breaks,

increased use of outdoor

areas etc. The simple act

of requiring people to

stay at home if unwell

and symptomatic will no

doubt have a significant

impact on the spread of all

coronaviruses (whether a

cold, flu or COVID). 2

Identifying that a vaccine

is a necessary part of

the reasonable control



with Dr Michael Eburn

measures will be easier

in some workplaces

compared to others.

Paramedics for example

are exposed to people

in uncontrolled

environments. People

cannot be asked to refrain

from calling paramedics if

they are unwell as that is

the very time, they need

paramedics. Paramedics

cannot ‘socially isolate’

from their patients. The

use of PPE may reduce

risk of infection, but that

risk is further reduced

with vaccination. Further

paramedics who are not

vaccinated may pose a

risk to vulnerable patients.

As Adamson J said in

Larter’s case (discussed


… the effect of the

orders was to remove

the increased risk of

transmission posed by

unvaccinated NSW Health

workers. It would be of no

comfort to the vulnerable

patient who is infected by

the unvaccinated health

care worker to be told that

he or she was unlucky by

being in the wrong ward

at the wrong time because

most health care workers

had been vaccinated. 3

Similar arguments could

also be made for rescue

operators who must also

operate in close contact

with patients. Whether

those arguments apply

to fire fighters and others

depends on all the

circumstances. What is

clear is that relying on the

Work Health and Safety

Act does not give an easy

answer to the question

of whether employers

can or must require their

workers to be vaccinated.

Public Health Orders

The presence of public

health orders changes the

issue. Where an order has

been made under relevant

public health legislation,

or as has happened in

some cases, emergency

management legislation,

then those operating in

that environment have

no choice but to comply.

To draw a parallel an

employer cannot employ

someone to drive an

emergency vehicle if they

do not have a licence.

The person may be a

competent and safe driver

but the obligation to have

a licence is imposed by

law and the employer has

no choice but to comply.

Kimber v Sapphire Coast

Community Aged Care Ltd

involved a nurse who

did not want to get an

influenza vaccination.

On 24 March 2020, the

NSW Minister for Health

made a Public Health

Order which said that an

employee of a residential

aged care facility must

not enter the facility if

they did not “have an

up-to-date vaccination

against influenza, if the

vaccination is available to

the person”. 4

Sapphire Coast

Community Aged Care

wrote to Ms Kimber

and advised her that

because of her refusal to

get vaccinated she was

‘unable to perform the

inherent requirements’ of

her role and so she was

dismissed. The majority of

the Full Bench of the Fair

Work Commission upheld

the finding that her

dismissal was not ‘unfair’.

They said:

Ms Kimber was at the time

of her dismissal legally

prohibited from working at

Imlay House. That plainly

made the continuation

of her employment

untenable. In circumstances

where Ms Kimber was

given ample opportunity

by her employer to get

vaccinated or demonstrate

that she had a medical

contraindication, no other

consideration could operate

to render her dismissal

unfair. 5

Where there is a valid

public health order, an

employer has no choice to

comply and if that order

requires that a certain class

of workers are vaccinated

then the employer cannot

continue their employment

if they refuse to get the

vaccination. But are the

public health orders lawful?

That was the question in

Kassam & Henry v Hazzard

& Ors and again in Larter

v Hazzard, a supreme

court case involving a NSW


In Kassam’s case 6 , Justice

Beech-Jones went through

arguments regarding

the scope of the powers

vested in the Minister

for Health and whether

the orders made were

unconstitutional or beyond

Where ther is a valid public health order, an employer has no choice to comply, requiring certain workers to be vaccinated

the power of the Minister.

This paper cannot deal with

each step in His Honour’s

reasoning but notes that

all the objections were

dismissed. His Honour’s

reasoning was confirmed

by the NSW Court of

Appeal. 7

In response to the claim

that the various orders

were a vaccine mandate,

His Honour said:

… the proper analysis

is that the impugned

orders curtail freedom of

movement which in turn

affects a person’s ability

to work (and socialise). So

far as the right to bodily

integrity is concerned,

Paramedics are exposed to people in uncontrolled environments and are unable to socially distance.

it is not violated as the

impugned orders do not

authorise the involuntary

vaccination of anyone. 8

In the Court of Appeal, Bell

P said:

None of those Orders

mandated vaccinations

nor compelled citizens to

be vaccinated, and none of

the Plaintiffs in either set

of proceedings had been


The Orders recognised that

not all workers may choose

to be vaccinated, and that

choice was respected.

Vaccination was not a

requirement under the

Orders; rather, it was an

element of the conditions

by reference to which a

worker would be permitted

to take advantage of an

exemption, namely to leave

a particular area … or to

enter a particular place… 9

Leeming JA said:

“… “free choice” is a label

which disguises the fact that

many choices commonly

made by people are

influenced by incentives

and burdens, which are not

uncommonly put in place

for the express purpose of

altering behaviour”. 10

Or, as Senator Jaccqui

Lambie said: “You have

freedom to make a

choice but, if you make a

choice, those choices have

consequences.” 11

Larter is a NSW Paramedic

who chooses not to have

the COVID-19 vaccination.

He argued that the orders

went too far. In making

that argument he relied

on the principle of legality

- a principle of statutory

interpretation that says

a statute should not be

held to interfere with

fundamental rights and

freedoms unless that

intention is expressed by

clear language.

Her Honour Justice

Adamson said:

The object of s 7 [of the

Public Health Act 2010



(NSW)] is to permit orders

to be made which may, for

the greater good, interfere

with fundamental human

rights, such as freedom

of movement. In these

circumstances, the principle

of legality is not of any real

assistance in discerning

the meaning of particular

provisions…’ 12

The Parliament had

provided that “[t]he

protection of the health

and safety of the public

is to be the paramount

consideration in the

exercise of functions under

this [Public Health] Act.” 13

In doing so the Parliament

had given the Minister

an intentionally broad

power. It is not the role of

the court to assess each

of the options and make

some determination as to

which decision the minister

should have made.

As Beech-Jones J said in


… [I]t is not the Court’s

function to determine the

merits of the exercise of the

power by the Minister …

much less for the Court to

choose between plausible

responses to the risks to

the public health posed by

the Delta variant. It is also

not the Court’s function to

conclusively determine the

effectiveness of some of the

alleged treatments for those

infected or the effectiveness

of COVID-19 vaccines ...

These are all matters of

merits, policy and fact for

the decision maker and

not the Court. Instead, the

Court’s only function is to

determine the legal validity

of the impugned orders

which includes considering

whether it has been shown

that no Minister acting

reasonably could have

considered them necessary

to deal with the identified

risk to public health and its

possible consequences. 14

The Minister might choose

to require certain workers

to be vaccinated or he or

she may take another of

many options. In Larter’s

case, Justice Adamson said:

… The range of decisions

reasonably open to

the Minister is, in this

context, wide. As long as

the decision sought to

be impugned falls within

the ambit of those which

are reasonably open, this

Court has no power to set

it aside on the grounds of

unreasonableness. Each

of the decisions between

available alternatives are

policy questions which

Parliament has decided

are to be matters for the

Minister’s consideration

and decision. 15

Her honour dismissed

all the challenges to the

relevant order requiring

Mr Larter and other

health care workers to be



This paper focused on

emergency workers,

and in particular health

care workers. Where the

Minister or Chief Health

Officer has exercised a

power under relevant

Public Health or emergency

management legislation to

issue an order or direction

requiring certain workers

to be vaccinated then the

employer has no choice

but to comply. Workers

do retain a choice, there

have been no orders that

‘authorise the involuntary

vaccination of anyone’.

Workers have a choice,

but choices often come

with a cost. In this case a

worker in an area subject

to an order must choose

between the vaccine or

their job. That is a hard

choice, but it is a choice.

Dr Michael Eburn


1. CFMEU v Mt Arthur Coal [2021]

FWCFB 6059.

2. Kimber v Sapphire Coast

Community Aged Care Ltd [2021]

FWCFB 6015. [138].

3. Larter v Hazzard (No 2) [2021]

NSWSC 1451, [83].

4. Kimber v Sapphire Coast

Community Aged Care Ltd [2021]

FWCFB 6015, [6].

5. Ibid [54] (Vice President Hatcher

and Commissioner Riordan).

6. Kassam v Hazzard; Henry v

Hazzard [2021] NSWSC 1320.

7. Kassam v Hazzard; Henry v

Hazzard [2021] NSWCA 299.

8. Kassam v Hazzard; Henry v

Hazzard [2021] NSWSC 1320, [9].

9. Kassam v Hazzard; Henry v

Hazzard [2021] NSWCA 299, [95]-


10. Ibid [170].

11. Commonwealth, Parliamentary

Debates, Senate, 22 November

2021, 10 (Jacquie Lambie).

12. Larter v Hazard (No 2) [2021]

NSWSC 1451, [80].

13. Ibid [83].

14. Kassam v Hazzard; Henry v

Hazzard [2021] NSWSC 1320, [7].

15. Larter v Hazzard (No 2) [2021]

NSWSC 1451, [86].

This article represents the author’s opinion

based on the law at the time it was written.

This article, is not legal advice and cannot

be relied upon to determine any person’s

legal position. How the law applies to any

specific situation or event depends on all the


If you need to determine legal rights and

obligations with respect to any event

that has happened, or some action that

is proposed, you must consult a lawyer

for advice based on the particular

circumstances. Trade unions, professional

indemnity insurers and community legal

centres can all be a source for initial legal


This article has been published with

permission from the author.

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 12

Five mistakes we make that can

precipitate the path to burnout



Burnout has certainly become a

topic of interest in recent times.

It is palpable in workplaces,

accentuated and brought into stark

light during the COVID-19 pandemic

but real and present well before

the virus infiltrated our services,

our communities and our lives. No

matter the role we play, there are

mistakes we can make that can

precipitate burnout in our workplaces

and simple shifts in perspective and

practice can prevent the decline.

Mistake Number 1

It’s not about me

When our work involves a strong

social purpose, this can go hand

in hand with the belief that self

sacrifice is optimal and that anything

else would be self-serving or even

selfish. Selflessness may be worn

as a badge of honour and set the

tone for workplace cultures and

expectations placed on ourselves

and each other. Whilst these are

laudable qualities, they can lead to a

blurring of boundaries between work

and life, saying yes when overloaded

and overwhelmed and, ultimately, to

declining health and wellbeing. Crises

are inevitable as part of the human

condition and of work in emergency


The most powerful thing we can all

do to be of service to others in an

optimal and sustainable way is to

prioritise our wellbeing.

Mistake Number 2

It’s out of my control

There are stressors and challenges

inherent to work in emergency

services, some that we can influence

directly or indirectly and others that

we cannot control. Feeling a lack of

control is a risk factor for burnout

and if we expend time and emotional

energy railing against factors outside

of our control that are sources of

frustration, our wellbeing will suffer.

This can create a domino effect

through negatively impacting on

others in our workplace.

Take control of what you can,

influence what you can and let go of

what you cannot control and enjoy

the relief that comes from that.

Mistake Number 3

I don’t have the time

In our hyper-connected culture of

busy-ness, we can feel like we never

have enough time. When we do have

time, we might not have the energy

or motivation to proactively take

care of our wellbeing. If we do not

prioritise wellbeing and are on the

hamster wheel peddling away madly,

we adopt habits to help us cope

that contribute to our decline like

skipping lunch and trading sleep for

work time (or lying awake ruminating

over work challenges). A workplace

in which many people are running

on empty and feeling overwhelmed

is one that is prone to conflict, to

reduced productivity, absenteeism

and staff turnover. This places even

more pressure on finite resources,

including time - the very definition of

a vicious cycle in action.

Choose to invest a small amount of

time on your wellbeing each day and,

as leaders, to normalise, promote,

support and lead by example in our

workplaces to break this vicious cycle.

Mistake Number 4

We don’t have the resources

Investing in staff development,

particularly in building personal and

team resilience and our skills as

leaders in fostering resilience at work

can fall into the ‘nice to do’ list (or

not even be on the radar). However

workplace stress and burnout bring

with them substantial health care and

organisational costs that stem from

absenteeism, reduced productivity

and staff turnover. In fact, this was

estimated by the World Economic

Forum in 2016 as costing the global

economy more than half a trillion

dollars per year (AUD equivalent).

Investing in workplace wellbeing,

in growing and fostering resilient

individuals and teams simply makes

good sense.

Mistake Number 5

We’ve ‘done’ resilience/self care/


The challenges we face around

workforce wellbeing are entrenched

in cultures and norms formed over

many generations. Our beliefs,

systems, habits and processes are

not going to change without a strong

commitment, a belief that change is

achievable and with a clear strategy,

consistent effort, learning and

continuous improvement over this

and coming generations. There are

no quick fixes or magic bullets here

and no single intervention is going

to get us to the place where we have

new norms where the resilience of

our people is valued as highly as

delivering on our mission.

Meaningful, concerted and sustained

action is needed to reduce the

prevalence and consequences of

burnout in our workplaces and our


We need to reject burnout and

set our sights on transforming our

organisational cultures and practice.

Forging a new path ahead to vibrant

sustainable organisations filled with

passionate, compassionate people

with a strong social purpose who

are supported to thrive, enjoy good

health and be fulfilled in their work.


Alison Coughlan

Alison Coughlan is the author of

The Health Hazard: Take control,

restore wellbeing and optimise

impact. Alison’s work draws on her

own experience of and recovery

from burnout and provide simple,

practical and powerful tools to

chart a path to both resilience and


Find out more at


www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 14



AROUND issues OF safety, respect and trust

Words: Brooke Turnbull

In October 2020, Ambulance Victoria

sought an independent commission

review into its practices after a

number of bullying, harassment and

victimisation reports were brought

forward to its management.

According to the Victorian Equal

Opportunity and Equal Rights

Commission, the review examined

the “nature, extent, drivers and

impact of discrimination, sexual

harassment, victimisation and

bullying” that was experienced

by both current and former staff

members as well as volunteers

working for Ambulance Victoria.

It also examined the adequacy of

the response and measures put

in place to prevent and eliminate

the harassment within Ambulance

Victoria. Finally, it aimed to identify

leading strategies to ensure a

“safe, healthy, equal and inclusive

workplace that supports and

promotes positive workplace systems,

values and behaviours, in accordance

with the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.”

On 30 November 2021, Volume

I of the details of the findings

and recommendations of the

independent review was delivered

and published. The inclusions

within this first volume of findings

were of the “nature, extent, drivers

and impacts of discrimination,

sexual harassment, bullying and

victimisation at Ambulance Victoria”,

as well as the adequacy of response

to reports and complaints and how

safe and respected current and

former employees and volunteers for

Ambulance Victoria feel within their

organisation’s workplace.

Volume II is expected to be delivered

in March 2022 and will include the

findings of the independent review

into representation, equal pay, and

progression, flexibility, accessibility

and support as well as organisational

capability, development into

leadership and continued


While the review into the conduct

and response of Ambulance

Victoria in regards to the complaints

of harassment found that they

implemented a range of measures

that aimed to provide the

organisation with a safe and inclusive

working environment; due to the fact

that Ambulance Victoria’s measures

are still maturing, the review found

that the organisation is currently not

fully complying with the positive duty

in the Act.

As a result of this non-compliance,

there was an overwhelming

response to the review, with 47.2% of

respondents reporting discrimination,

17.4% of respondents reporting

sexual harassment, 34.5% of

respondents reporting victimisation

and a huge 52.4% of respondents

reporting experiences of bullying

within the workplace. Reports of

incivility, everyday sexism and other

everyday forms of disrespect were

also common within the findings.

Ambulance Victoria has taken

important steps in order to ensure

that the organisation is responding

correctly to its report and complaint

system. The review found that few of

the survey respondents went through

with a formal complaint process and

those that did found little satisfaction

with the process and outcomes. The

review found that these low levels

of reporting is limiting Ambulance

Victoria’s ability to identify and hold

perpetrators accountable, the review

found that moving forward the

responsibility of prioritising measures

that create a safer environment must

be upheld by Ambulance Victoria.

The recommendations from the

review included in Volume I include

adopting a new set of organisational

values, security audits of work

environments, establishing a new

model for reporting complaints,

and developing a comprehensive

prevention plan among other


52.4% of respondents reported experiences of bullying within the workplace. Image credit: Ambulance

Victoria Facebook

Recommendations for further

implementation involving pay,

equality and devlopment will be

available in Volume II of the review to

be released in March 2022.

Ambulance Victoria have expressed

deep regret for the harm that

has been suffered as a result of

discrimination, sexual harassment,

bullying, and victimisation. They

have pledged to begin to work on

the recommendations given by the

review in November 2021.

Ambulance Victoria’s CEO, Professor

Tony Walker ASM, stated that

although the report is hard to

read, meaningful change will only

happen through hearing, feeling and

acknowledging the wrongs that have

occured. His message within the

first report is detailed and direct in

regards to the deficiencies that have

been highlighted by the independent

review. His commitment to achieving

change is clear.



“ Our immediate priority is supporting

our people and strengthening the

systemsthat will change their experience.

This includes the establishment of a

dedicated Workplace Equality and

Organisational Reform Division, a

restorative engagement scheme to

support acknowledgment of harm and

initiatives to immediately improveharm

prevention and overhauling our

complaints system.”

The Chair of Ambulance Victoria, Mr

Ken Lay calls the report both painful

and confronting. He states, “The

breadth and depth of issues of incivility,

disrespect, discrimination, sexual

harassment, bullying and victimisation

in our workplace are deeply disturbing.”

He goes on to restate the boards

committment to working alongside

the CEO and Executive Committee

to “purge the organisation of the

destructive elements of our culture

and to improve and safeguard our

workplace for all those who work at

Ambulance Victoria.” In his message

within Volume One of the review he

says, “This board will be judged on

our success in honouring the courage

of those who have come forward by

making Ambulance Victoria a better

place to work.”

The Victorian Equal Opportunity

and Human Rights Commission is

committed to remaining involved in

assisting Ambulance Victoria with the

implementation of these measures

and a formal audit will be conducted

after the recommendations in

Volume II have been implemented.

This audit is expected to be

conducted in 2023, a year on from

the release of Volume II.

The commission acknowledges the

contributors to the review, both

current and former employees and

volunteers for Ambulance Victoria.

Those who came forward with their

stories of workplace harassment have

demonstrated real bravery.

For more information about the

Independent review into workplace

equality by the Victorian Equal

Opportunity and Human Rights

Commission visit their website.

To read Volume 1 of the Independent

Review into Workplace Equality

in Ambulance Victoria you can

download it here.















































Mental Health

with Associate Professor

Erin Cotter-Smith

A fresh start…

I recently made a big change. After almost

two decades in academia, I accepted a

CEO role for a not-for-profit organisation

that closely aligned with my personal

values and passion for supporting mental

health and wellbeing.

I will be approaching the new year with a

fresh start!

Behavioural science has long attempted

to explain our desire for change; but more

recently we are starting to understand

a phenomenon called the “fresh start

effect”. Coined by a group of researchers

from Harvard University, it identified

that our “fresh start” behaviours – things

like taking out new gym memberships

and buying diet cookbooks – all increase

following temporal landmarks (e.g., the

start of a new week, month, year, or

events like our birthdays).

When I first read about this, my initial

response was, “uh, yeah, no kidding?”.

However, on further reflection, it’s

interesting and has serious implications

for how we think about taking on

behaviour change.

Of note, the researchers highlighted

how these milestones act as the start of

new mental accounting periods which

help us to relegate past imperfections

to a previous period and to take a big

picture view of our lives; in essence, they

act as triggers for motivating aspirational


In other words, “fresh starts” help us to

forget about what we didn’t do last week/

month/year, which gives us a clean slate.



I love that idea. It didn’t matter that I

hadn’t been into the gym last week (OK,

last month; OK, I can’t remember when I

was last in the gym). I had a clean slate to

start again next week!

It allowed us to be imperfect, to make

mistakes, but still move forward with a

fresh start and new mindset.

And the beauty is, we can choose which

milestones we use to act as triggers for

these fresh starts! Sure, we can use the

big traditional ones like New Years Eve, or

a birthday. But I am choosing my new job.

“In fresh start moments, people feel more

distant from their past failures,” says Katy

Milkman, one of the lead researchers

in this work. With the downward pull of

failures behind us, it’s much easier to

move forward.

How to make the “fresh start effect” work

for you

While the fresh start effect can be helpful

for giving us that extra “oomph” that we

may need to make positive change, we

need to be careful that we aren’t looking

for a fresh start every other day! We don’t

want to be starting a new diet each week

or trying a new job each month. That can

be the dark side of the fresh start effect;

it can give us a repeating sense of false


The key is to use fresh starts selectively

and not too frequently, and most

importantly, to finish what you started.

It’s also important to remember that

a fresh start doesn’t have to involve

changing every aspect of who you

are, what you do, and when you do it!

Sometimes, just making one small change

will be enough to inspire a happier and

healthier version of yourself.

Personality isn’t permanent

In his book, Personality Isn’t Permanent,

Dr. Benjamin Hardy argues that you can

have a fresh start by changing yourself

anytime and in any way.

As we gain more life experience, interact

with different people, battle our way

through hardships, fall in love, fall out of

love, have kids, don’t have kids, get a job,

change jobs, we change so much. New

experiences, obstacles, and paths are

constantly being explored which causes

us to grow.

Our personality isn’t permanent, and this

is a good thing! It allows us to adapt and

evolve and to make the most of the fresh

starts that come our way.

Science says we become happier as we

get older and it’s likely because we finally

figure out what matters in life. And so, if

you’re looking to discover how to start

over, just know that you can get a fresh

start this very second if you decide to. You

don’t need a big epiphany or a big “A HA”

moment to get started.

The power lies in your next move.

Are you ready for a fresh start? Big or


Give yourself permission to change

If you just answered yes, then you need

to give yourself permission to make that

change! That means accepting that the

existing version of you isn’t the healthiest

or happiest you. It also means being ready

to step up and make that fresh start.

In the beginning, your brain may ask you,

Associate Professor

Erin Cotter-Smith

PhD, MPH, MClinEpi

Course Coordinator

School of Medical and

Health Sciences

Edith Cowan University

“What are you doing? This isn’t you!” “Are

you sure you want to do this?” “Why are

you stepping outside of your nice warm

comfort zone?” You’ll need to know how

to silence those thoughts. You might

feel even guilty or find it challenging to

let some habits fall by the wayside. But

ultimately, to take on this fresh start,

you’re going to have to make a switch

towards a new version of yourself. You

need to let go of old habits that just

haven’t been working for you. This newer

version of yourself is what will make you

happier and healthier.

I know – I had to work through all these

thoughts when I walked away from a

twenty-year career that I knew and was

comfortable in to start something brand

new. I am equal parts terrified and


But I didn’t listen to thoughts that

surfaced about how I could fail, or how it

was all too hard. Deep down, I knew it was

time for change. And future me will be

so grateful for the changes I have started

making today!

If a part of you feels the same way after

reading this, I hope you find the courage

for a fresh start, despite the fear!

A final sign off…

As I take on my fresh start, one of the

things I need to say goodbye to is this

column. I am handing it over to someone

I both respect and trust, my colleague and

dear friend Dr Lisa Holmes.

So, for one final time, I wish you all good

mental health!

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 20

Taking protective action

during floods and storms

Public safety messages for floods and storms will be

broadcast on ABC Radio this severe weather season, backed

by Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC research.

Comprising of 26 different public messages, the new

Community Service Announcements (CSAs) are the firstever

nationally agreed set of public flood and storm risk

messages, having been endorsed in doctrine by AFAC.

This project resulted in a final set of CSAs designed to

provide communities with information and advice about

protective actions they can take when threatened or

impacted by floods and severe storms.

Utilising the findings from the CRC’s Flood risk

communication project, the development of the 26

nationally consistent CSAs was led by Hon A/Prof Mel

Taylor at Macquarie University. The project was highly

collaborative and made possible by the creation of

a National Flood CSA Working Group, comprised of

representatives from the Bureau of Meteorology and

State Emergency Services from all states and territories

with responsibility for response in floods. The project was

facilitated and supported by AFAC through the AFAC SES

Community Safety Group.

Floodwaters cover Rosalie Village, Brisbane, Qld. Credit: Angus Veitch (CC BY-NC 2.0)

“Developing nationally consistent

flood messaging is a significant

achievement for the emergency

services sector,” said AFAC Director

Risk and Resilience, Amanda Leck.

“These messages will minimise

harm and save lives by

ensuring that the ABC is able to

communicate key messages to

impacted communities during

floods. The fact that these

messages are based on research

and evidence has meant that

emergency services agencies across

Australia have been willing and

able to collaborate to achieve these

nationally consistent messages.”

Flood CSAs are used by the ABC

before, during and after floods and

severe storms for radio broadcasts

that are typically around 30

seconds in duration. They contain

high-level, general advice and

support to communities with the

aim of increasing public safety in

floods and storms. They are also

often linked together to form

longer public information segments

to provide breaks in rolling

emergency broadcasting.

Although the ABC had an existing

set of CSAs for floods and storms,

they could only be used in certain

combinations of states or territories

with the potential for confusion.

An important requirement of this

project was therefore to produce a

comprehensive single harmonised

set of CSAs that the ABC can use


“The best way to reach audiences

is by giving simple, consistent

messages and delivering them

regularly,” said Patrick Hession,

Emergency Broadcast Lead at the


“For example, warning people

about the dangers of driving

through flood water is a goal that

all agencies are working towards.

It makes sense to simplify the

message so that a person receives

the same message no matter which

side of a border they are on.”

The development of the CSAs

comprised three stages:

1. Scoping

Consensus decision-making was

used to identify and prioritise

message topics and content areas.

The goal of this stage was to reach

consensus on the content areas and

message elements to be included in

the CSA set.

2. Co-development and iterative


The next step was to co-create

messages and conduct iterative

reviews to produce a provisional set

of CSA messages for public testing.

The draft CSA messages went through

three rounds of review with CSA

Working Group members and ABC

representatives until a set of agreed

messages was finalised.

3. Testing and finalising

The CSA messages were then tested

through a series of focus groups with

the public and a round of review with

the CSA Working Group to refine the

messages based on public feedback to

produce the final set of CSAs.

“This process has given me a much

greater understanding of the thought

processes that people might go

through when they are making

potentially risky decisions,” said Mr


“This led to the development of

messages that can be broadcast at

times where people will be making

these decisions. Messages were

informed by research to better argue

against the temptation or motivation

that people might have to make risky

choices. It’s been a great experience.”

At the end of the project, a final

set of 26 flood CSAs was approved,

including messages that can be used

in all phases of floods and storms in

the context of escalating and rolling

emergency broadcasts on ABC local


“This project enabled me to use our

CRC research findings and combine

them with the expertise of a great

team of emergency communications

to produce messages that resonate

with the public and will hopefully lead

to greater public safety in floods and

storms,” said A/Prof Taylor.

“As a researcher, it has been a great

experience to work with such an

engaged set of stakeholders and endusers

to translate research findings

into outputs that will help protect

communities. It was really exciting

to hear our messages produced

professionally and slotted into the

ABC emergency intro and outro

wording, ready for use!”

Six CSAs relate to different risks

and contexts associated with

driving in floods, and four relate to

playing in floodwater—these are

the behaviours most associated

with flood fatalities. A further

four relate to animal ownership,

and four provide information

about the meanings or nature of

warnings and alerts. The remainder

include issues around home

preparation, safety considerations

when cleaning up after flooding,

information about what to do if you

are trapped by rising floodwater

or are considering staying when

advised to leave, and messages

about flash flooding and the

implications of flooding upstream.

The full suite of CSAs has been

recorded by the ABC and has now

been distributed to ABC Radio

teams around Australia. They are

available for use by the ABC’s local

on-air teams when appropriate.

“With the early start to flooding

events, these CSAs couldn’t have

been completed at a better time!”

said Mr Hession.

The full set of CSAs are available

in the AFAC doctrine, National

Community Safety Announcements

for flood risk communication.

Although the CSAs were created

in response to a request by the

ABC, and with their involvement,

there is the opportunity for other

broadcasters to use them too.

Those interested should contact

Melissa Peppin at AFAC for more

information: Melissa.Peppin@afac.


Read more about the development

of the CSAs in the Research into

practice brief, Development of a

national set of Community Service

Announcements for flood risk, and

the final report.

The Research into practice brief

series provides concise summaries

of the Flood risk communication

research findings for end-users and

practitioners. Download the full

series here.



Author: Brooke Turnbull

December 1st marked the beginning of Summer and a grim reminder of the

second anniversary of the Black Summer bushfires of 2019/2020. We have a

closer look at the connection between this catastrophic disaster and climate

change and what has happened to the communities that were affected.

The Black Summer bushfires caused

over 18.6 million hectares of destruction,

cost the Australian economy over $103

billion dollars and tragically cost the lives

of just under 500 people through direct

and indirect causes, as hundreds of fires

raged across Australia.

These fires were particularly lethal on

the southeastern coast of New South

Wales and into Victoria. This was a

national tragedy, with homes and

livelihoods lost. It also heralded a call to

arms for Australia to discuss and fight

against, what the majority of the country

now believe, the effects of climate

change on our country.

In the lead up to this anniversary, the

conversation had been dominated

by the COP26 UN Climate Change

Conference held in November of this


The continued push from the public to

have the government take responsibility

for climate action right now to ensure

our land and country is protected

for future generations meant that

the COP26 conference was a highly

anticipated event.

The conference was attended, en masse,

by delegates of almost 200 countries

around the world. It’s aim is to continue

toward the goal of net zero by 2050

and to ensure that global temperatures

do not rise above 1.5 degrees Celsius.

After two weeks in Glasgow, all countries

had agreed on individual targets which

means this is within reach. However, it

is important to note that this will only

be achieved if all countries that pledged,

stand by their agreement.

With the phasing out of fossil fuels high

on the agenda nearly 200 countries

pledged to phase out coal power by

2030. Australia did not sign this pledge.

Prime Minister, Scott Morrison was

not supportive of the requirements

that Australia would have to adjust in

order to hit the necessary targets. The

position of the current government is

that Australia would support economic

growth alongside environmental goals.

This means, that, while Mr Morrison did

not pledge to increase Australia’s shortterm

2030 targets, there have been

commitments made to ensure Australia’s

export commodities take responsibility

for conservation and emissions are

in line with the current government’s

commitments. He did acknowledge

that climate change was a great threat.

The opposition leader, Mr Anthony

Albanese, has criticised Mr Morrison

for this stance, and has pledged to

lower emission targets further for 2030.

Australia received much criticism globally

for its stance on climate policy.

Also highly critical of the government’s

emissions target pledge are the

Emergency Leaders for Climate Action

(ELCA). Emergency Leaders for Climate

Action is a coalition of 34 former fire

and emergency service leaders from

every fire service in Australia, a number

of SES, national parks, and forestry

agencies, and former Directors General

of Emergency Management Australia.

ELCA members are deeply concerned

about worsening natural disaster risks

driven by extreme weather directly

resulting from climate change. The

ECLA came together in 2019 to highlight

the catastrophic connection between

climate change and damaging weather

events and natural disasters.

The ECLA together with the Bushfire

Survivors for Climate Action, presided

over by Ms Jo Dodds, challenged Mr

Morrison on emissions targets, calling

the 2050 goal “vague”. In addition, Ms

Dodds has pleaded with the Australian

government to recognise the full effect

that climate change has had on the

land, leading to the culmination of the

devastating 2019/2020 fire season. Ms

Dodds called on the government for

immediate change, during the COP26

conference, saying “We need hope. A

vague 2050 target does not bring us

hope, it does not bring us the emission

cuts we need. It brings us only more


Members and supporters of the Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action. Image Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action

This sentiment is echoed by the ELCA.

At the COP26 the ECLA took out a

full page advertisement in British

newspaper, The Times. The purpose



a struggle for many across these

communities, they acknowledge that

they are living in a time where people

have had to dig deep for each other and

many have witnessed or participated in

true Australian mateship throughout this

period of intense change.

Volunteers helping to rebuild in New South Wales 2020

of the advertisement was to remind

everyone of the devastation caused by

the fires and to plead with world leaders

to address emission targets so that this

type of devastation doesn’t become


Former Fire Commissioner of Fire &

Rescue NSW and founder of ELCA, Greg

Mullins stated,

“Our ad – which will be seen by many

influential delegates at COP26 – sends a

message that we need drastic emissions

cuts this decade to protect life, property,

and the environment. Unfortunately, in

Australia, our government seems intent

on making things worse by clinging to

polluting fossil fuels.

“Time has run out and there can be no

more excuses or meaningless slogans. It’s

time to wake up and smell the smoke.”

According to scientific experts the

weather that led to the Black Summer

bushfires may be the expected

average by 2040 if we do not reduce

our emissions. The ECLA is calling for

Australia to reduce it’s emissions by 75%

and achieve net zero by 2035.

For those who experienced the

2019/2020 bushfire season directly, the

process of rebuilding is still very much

ongoing. Many survivors of the bushfires

feel forgotten and overlooked.

As reported by The Guardian, while

nearly 1000 homes were destroyed in

the worst hit towns on the South Coast,

only around 7% of those homes have, so

far, been rebuilt.

With the shortage of labour brought

on by COVID-19, as well as a global

material shortage due to economic and

trade strains with China, many of the

community are still living in temporary

homes while construction continues at

a slow pace, or in some case, is halted


While the red-tape process has been

The Summer of 2021 is undoubtedly

different. We have seen a cool and wet

change, with La Niña in full effect as

rain lashes across the east coasts and

towards the middle of the nation.

This has, inevitably, brought with it its

own set of challenges, as northern inland

New South Wales and Queensland

has experienced intense flooding. The

outlook is to expect more of the same.

This is yet another extreme weather

event, one of many that we will no doubt

continue to see in the future should

we not take the global climate science


For south coast New South Wales, there

have been some positives to the wet

weather. The bush is regenerating and

the grass turning back to green from

the dense and barren brown it’s been.

Wildlife are returning to their natural

habitats as the national parks continue

to recover. With borders opening up

again, after the restrictions put into

effect due to the COVID-19 virus, many

in the area are looking forward to a

tourism boost.

The Black Summer bushfires left

an indelible mark on the Australian

people and the landscape. Those

communities that were affected are still

slowly rebuilding both physically and

mentally. Climate change will continue

its unrelenting assault on this nation’s

environment if we don’t take action. With

solid and tenable targets, like the ones

being fought for by the ELCA and the

Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action, we

can hope that future fire seasons don’t

come close to such catastrophic levels





Call today 0413 469 976 sam@proplumbinggasandcivil.com Parkinson Queensland 4115

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 26

Introducing Natural Hazards

Research Australia

By Dr Richard Thornton

CEO, Natural Hazards Research Australia

Australia has a new national centre for natural

hazards resilience and disaster risk reduction

– Natural Hazards Research Australia. New

research is now underway, with plenty

of exciting funding opportunities already



new chapter in Australia’s

national natural hazards

research began in July 2021,

with the establishment of Natural

Hazards Research Australia.

Natural Hazards Research Australia

(the Centre) is now up and running,

extending 18 years of worldleading

collaborative research

from the Bushfire and Natural

Hazards CRC and its predecessor,

the Bushfire CRC. Initially, funded

by $85m over 10 years from the

Australian Government along

with contributions from partners,

the Centre’s role is to work with

partners and the community to

produce usable research that

contributes to zero preventable

deaths, creates well-prepared

and resilient communities, and

translates into use and action.

With the impacts of natural hazards

in Australia predicted to become

more extreme and frequent in

the future, this an important

opportunity to produce natural

hazard research that underpins

Australia’s National Disaster

Risk Reduction Framework with

the best possible evidence and

knowledge we have available.

The establishment of the Centre

represents a great step forward, as

Australia continues to use research

to think strategically about how we

make communities, as well as our

built and natural environments, safe

and sustainable to the effects of

natural hazards.

Since beginning in July 2021, we

have been busy working with the

government and our partners

(new and prospective) to develop a

strategic natural hazards research

agenda for Australia. We have also

been establishing all the necessary

programs and processes that a

national centre needs – governance

and staff, nodes in states and

territories, initial research

programs, an education program,

funding opportunities, fresh

branding, a media presence and

much more.

You can learn about everything

we’ve been doing on our website:


Governance and location

The Centre operates as a notfor-profit

company, limited by

guarantee and registered as a

charity through the Australian

Charities and Not-for-profit

Commission. There is a refresh of

the Board underway, which will be

completed by mid-2022.

We are establishing new advisory

structures to ensure that the voices

of our end-user partners are at

the forefront of all we do. We are

setting up several advisory panels

that will inform our Board and

guide the direction of the Centre,

including an End-User Advisory

Panel and an International Research

Advisory Panel. There will be

refreshed Board committees that

will contain external advisors to

ensure that the Board is hearing a

wider view.

Operating as a national entity, the

Centre will not have a ‘headquarters’

as such. To ensure we have the best

engagement with our partners, we

will have staff established in ‘nodes’

within several major cities. This

model will ensure that work remains

grounded and relevant to activities

in each state and territory, as well as

nationally. We currently have nodes

in Queensland, New South Wales and

Victoria. We will continue discussions

with other states and territories to

build on this.

Partners at the core of our research

Our research approach is highly

collaborative and based on partner

needs – we conduct research with

our partners, for use by our partners

and the community. We will build

on the highly successful processes

and practices of the previous CRCs,

which have seen the findings of

every major research project used by

our partners for the benefits of the

community – representing a morethan-six-fold

return on every dollar


As such, we are having regular

discussions with key stakeholders

across the natural hazard sector to

develop a portfolio of partners to

guide our initial research program

and ongoing priorities. This includes

state and territory government

agencies, local governments and

associations, as well as organisations

from the private and not-for-profit

sectors, industry partners, research

institutions and international

research bodies. This multi-party

engagement ensures that the

research outcomes we produce

will be of most use to as many

Australians as possible, helping keep

our communities, landscapes and

infrastructure safe from the impacts

of natural hazards.

Australia’s national capability can only

be formed through the investment

of partners who share our mission of

creating a safer and more disasterresilient

society. We are continuing to

seek new partners and you can reach

us at office@naturalhazards.com.au

to begin contributing to Australia’s

natural hazard resilience.

Towards final research priorities

One of the key features of the Centre

is that its research program will be

flexible from the beginning. We will be

redefining our research plans every

year to ensure that we are addressing

the most relevant and current issues

for our partners. The portfolio of

projects will include short-, mediumand

longer-term projects, enabling

us to meet the immediate needs of

the nation as well as committing to

solving the more complex issues.

We began developing initial national

research priorities by conducting

an extensive series of sector-wide

workshops with end-users and widely

collecting feedback from research

partners and others in August 2020.

These workshops helped us examine

the key research needs for the nation

that we are now using to finalise our

research priorities.

The priorities – grouped around eight

themes – will shape the ever-evolving

research program for the Centre:

• Communities and workforces of

the future

• Sustainable, safe and healthy

natural landscapes

• Resilient built environment

• Resilient communities

• Situational awareness

• Operational response and


• Evidence-informed policy,

strategy and foresight

• Learning from disasters

Alongside the finalisation of the

research priorities, we are working

with our funding partners to define

the initial biennial research plan.

We look forward to continuing these

discussions and meeting with new

and existing partners to broaden the

scope of natural hazard research in

the coming months and years.

Natural Hazards Research Australia is the new national centre for natural hazards resilience and disaster risk reduction.



The development of the Centre marks the beginning of a new era of natural hazards research in Australia.” Credit: CSIRO

First round of research

While the new research priorities are

being finalised, there are a targeted

first round of research projects

that are now underway – agreed

to as part of the negotiations with

the Australian Government for the

new Centre earlier this year. Most

projects being funded by the Centre

will be announced in the next rounds,

from early 2022. Further details are

available at www.naturalhazards.com.

au/news/initial-project or you can

drop the team an email at research@


The projects in this initial round

extend and support the use of

research findings from the Australian

Government-funded Black Summer

research program, conducted by the

CRC. These projects include further

work on the role of Indigenous

land management in managing fire

risk, as well as advancements in

fire predictive services technology

that are crucial to the management

of bushfire risk. Projects are also

looking at how the work on extreme

fire behaviour can be translated to

keep communities and firefighters

safe, including an evaluation of

how predictive maps can be used

when communicating risk to the


This round of research will also

examine the creation of a Bushfire

Information Database and address

a number of recommendations

from the 2020 Royal Commission

into National Natural Disaster

Arrangements about the role of

data to better support decision

making. Other approved projects are

focusing on post-disaster recovery

and on understanding the resilience

of lifeline services, such as power,

telecommunications, and food and

water supply in regional and remote


Launching our education program

The Centre is committed to

supporting and promoting a

strong intellectual cohort of

researchers who can deliver usable

outputs to partners and the wider

community. This includes supporting

postgraduate research, employment

pathways and opportunities for

career development of early career


We recently launched our

education program, beginning with

Postgraduate Research Scholarships,

and Early Career Researcher

Development and Industry

Fellowships. An Associate Student

program will follow. You can find all

the details at www.naturalhazards.


Quick response funding

We’re also mindful that data after

a natural hazard sometimes needs

to be gathered quickly, so in time

for summer 2021–22, we launched

our quick response funding. This

will support researchers travelling

to areas recently affected by

natural hazards to ensure that the

impacts are measured in a timely

manner. This fund builds on the

important quick response research

from the CRC, which was essential

when assessing post-disaster

impacts, recovery, data collection

and rehabilitation, planning and

community response for natural

hazards between 2016 and 2021.

Learn more at www.naturalhazards.


Strengthening reconciliation through


Also high on our priority list is

strengthening our engagement

with First Nations peoples, as the

Traditional Owners of the land on

which we all live and on which the

Centre will conduct research.

Through the CRCs, we have a long

history of research engagement with

First Nations people and now, as a

national centre, it is important to

us that we continue to learn from

the knowledge, contributions and

perspectives of First Nations peoples.

With a strengthened commitment to

reconciliation, we are in the process

of developing a Reconciliation Action

Plan for the new Centre. This is an

important step that will guide the

First Nations-led processes, programs

and research activities of the Centre.

There are many more updates to share,

all of which you can find on our website at


For the latest information on Natural

Hazards Research Australia, follow @

hazardsresearch on social media or

sign up to our newsletter at www.


www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 30



Written by Rasa Piggott

Lecturer in Paramedicine

Registered Paramedic

Registered Nurse

Three years ago, I was told by a manager that if I were a 6-foot tall,

white male with blonde hair, my professional perspectives would

be heard, and I would not be facing the same workplace challenges

regarding career opportunity.

This statement leant heavily into our societally driven gendered


Western medicine and healthcare systems were established by

biologically designated men, for biologically designated men.

This reality is deeply rooted in centuries of societally charged

patriarchism and has intensely affected the ambulance industry.

The inclusion of women within ambulance services remains recent

history. Exclusion of sexes outside of the traditionally prescribed

male from ambulance employment has contributed to a male –

biased healthcare system. Ambulance Services were established

firmly within the context of a patriarchal society, resulting in

organisational structures that perpetuate health career and patient

care inequities through embedded systems, cultures and routines.

The Final Report on Victoria’s Ambulance Services from the Public

Bodies Review Committee of 1984 sheds light on our patriarchal

origins and consequent present-day Ambulance Service challenges.

When reviewing our past and how it has infiltrated our present,

we can see why outdated social constructs and harmful gendered

biases are still embedded in every tier of healthcare.

These gendered biases generate inequity not just within healthcare

careers and healthcare organisational models, but also within

healthcare delivery and health outcomes.

Traditionally doctors, paramedics, scientists and researchers have

possessed biologically male characteristics, excluding other sexes

and gender identities. Additionally, clinical research and medical

science have heavily focussed on biologically determined males

(animals and humans). Historic lack of diversity within health

professionalism and exclusion of women (and intersex people) from

clinical trials has led to male-bias in clinical care. Consequently,

and even with advancing medicine, women experience higher

rates of undertreatment and misdiagnosis. Evidence confirms that

when client’s present with the same severity of symptoms, those

determined as being biologically male are investigated and treated

more extensively than females. Leading areas in which health care

provision and thus outcomes differ between sexes include pain

management and cardiac care.

Given health professionals come to work intending to help and do

no harm, it is uncomfortable for us to hear that we are vulnerable

to participating in a medley of undesirable gender and sex biases

that negatively impact health careers, healthcare delivery and

health outcomes. It is hard to accept that there is a correlation

between health professional characteristics and career opportunity,

just as there is a correlation between patient characteristics

and inequitable healthcare treatment. Although there is clear

evidence of conscious biases impacting the paramedic profession,

oftentimes, biases that perpetuate the intrinsically linked

inequities within health organisations and healthcare provision are


Conscious or unconscious, understanding that gendered bias lives

on a spectrum and serves as a gateway to gendered harassment,

sexual harassment and sexual violence is every health professional’s

responsibility. To work at solving gendered bias, is to work at solving

gendered violence.

An indication of a mature health profession is a health profession

capable of identifying, un-packing and addressing its fallibilities.

For paramedicine, this means actively developing insight and

responding to the ways in which our professional culture reflects

and contributes to society’s gendered reality.

Image credit: Artist Emanu https://www.emanu.se/



Unconscious biases:

social stereotypes about certain groups

of people that individuals form outside

their own conscious awareness. Everyone

holds unconscious beliefs about various

social and identity groups … Unconscious

bias is far more prevalent than conscious

prejudice and often incompatible with one’s

conscious values” (UCSF, 2021).




Public Bodies Review

Committee. Parliament of

Victoria. 1984.

Performance bias:

manifests as the underestimation of

women’s workplace performance, and

overestimation of men’s performance.

Performance bias results in us affording

men career opportunities based on their

perceived potential, whereas career

opportunities for women are typically

based on past accomplishments. This

means women must work harder to prove

themselves. Studies show that something as

simple as changing a historically designated

female-sounding name to a male-sounding

name on a resume increases selection

success by 60%. (LeanIn, 2021)

Attribution bias:

results in women’s accomplishments not

being credited, and women being more

likely to receive blame for a workplace

failing. Attribution bias is heavily linked to

our historical participation in devaluing the

contributions of women in the workplace.

This devaluation of women in the workplace

can be seen in data that reveals women

are interrupted when speaking at work 3x

more than men. Attribution bias erodes

professional confidence. Perhaps this is

why women wait until they meet 100% of

job description criterion before applying for

an opportunity, whilst men typically apply

for opportunities upon achieving 60% of an

opportunity’s criterion. (LeanIn, 2021)

Likeability Bias:

is cruel double bind. When a woman does

try to assert themselves in a workplace

or opposes attribution bias norms, they

are risking a likeability penalty. Societally,

it has long been expected that men be

assertive, whilst women be communal and

‘kind’. When a male asserts themselves,

we intrinsically expect it and equate it

with competence. When a woman asserts

themselves, we don’t like it. We don’t like

them. Frustratingly, when women are seen

as agreeable and nice, evidence suggests

that they are deemed less competent by

their co-workers. So … being assertive

equates to being less liked; being agreeable

equates to being less competent. (LeanIn,







Martin, Heron, S., Moreno-Walton, L., & Strickland, M. (2019). Diversity and Inclusion

in Quality Patient Care Your Story/Our Story – A Case-Based Compendium (2nd ed.

2019.). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-92762-6


Allotey, Allotey-Reidpath, C., & Reidpath, D. D. (2017). Gender bias in clinical case

reports: A cross-sectional study of the “big five” medical journals. PloS One, 12(5),

e0177386–e0177386. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0177386

Hamberg K. Gender Bias in Medicine. Women’s Health. May 2008:237-243.




New technology lets

police link DNA to

appearance and ancestry

– and it’s coming to


The Australian Federal Police

recently announced plans to

use DNA samples collected

at crime scenes to make

predictions about potential


This technology, called forensic

“DNA phenotyping”, can reveal

a surprising and growing

amount of highly personal

information from the traces

of DNA that we all leave

behind, everywhere we go –

including information about

our biological sex, ancestry and


Queensland police have

already used versions of this

approach to identify a suspect

and identify remains. Forensic

services in Queensland

and New South Wales have

also investigated the use of

predictive DNA.

This technology can reveal

much more about a suspect

than previous DNA forensics

methods. But how does it

work? What are the ethical

issues? And what approaches

are other countries around the

world taking?

How does it work?

The AFP plans to implement

forensic DNA phenotyping based

on an underlying technology called

“massively parallel sequencing”.

Our genetic information is encoded

in our DNA as long strings of

four different base molecules,

and sequencing is the process of

“reading” the sequence of these


Older DNA sequencing machines

could only read one bit of DNA at a

time, but current “massively parallel”

machines can read more than six

trillion DNA bases in a single run.

This creates new possibilities for DNA


This makes it useful in missing

persons cases and the investigation

of unidentified remains. This method

can also be used in criminal cases,

mostly to exclude persons of interest.

The AFP plans to predict biological

sex, “biogeographical ancestry”,

eye colour and, in coming months,

hair colour. Over the next decade

they aim to include traits such as

age, body mass index, and height,

and even finer predictions for facial

metrics such as distance between

the eyes, eye, nose and ear shape, lip

fullness, and cheek structure.

Are there any issues or ethical


DNA can reveal highly sensitive

information about us. Beyond

be used. Despite some progress

toward a privacy impact assessment,

Australian forensic legislation does

not currently provide any form of

comprehensive regulation of forensic

DNA phenotyping.

The highly sensitive nature of DNA

data, and the difficulty in ever making

it anonymous creates significant

privacy concerns.

According to a 2020 government

survey about public attitudes

to privacy, most Australians are

uncomfortable with the idea of their

DNA data being collected.

Using DNA for forensics may also

reduce public trust in the use of

genomics for medical and other


The AFP’s planned tests include

biogeographical ancestry prediction.

Even when not explicitly tested, DNA

data is tightly linked to our ancestry.

One of the biggest risks with any DNA

data is exacerbating or creating racial

biases. This is especially the case

in law enforcement, where specific

groups of people may be targeted

or stigmatised based on pre-existing


Massively parallel DNA sequencing has opened new frontiers for genetic analysis. Shutterstock

DNA forensics used to rely on a

system that matched samples to

ones in a criminal DNA database,

and did not reveal much beyond

identity. However, predictive DNA

forensics can reveal things like

physical appearance, biological sex

and ancestry – regardless of whether

people are in a database or not.

ancestry and externally visible

characteristics, we can predict many

other things including aspects of both

physical and mental health.

It will be important to set clear

boundaries around what can and

can’t be predicted in these tests

– and when and how they will

In Australia, Indigenous legal experts

report that not enough is being

done to fully eradicate racism and

unconscious bias within police.

Concerns have been raised about

other types of potential institutional

racial profiling. A recent analysis

by the ANU also indicated that 3 in

4 people held implicit negative or

unconscious bias against Indigenous




ancestral and phenotypic data as

probabilities so uncertainty can be

evaluated, and clearly explaining how

judgements would be made about

when to use the technology and who

would make the decision.

The VISAGE consortium of

academics, police and justice

institutions, from eight European

countries, also produced a report of

recommendations and concerns in


They urge careful consideration

of the circumstances where DNA

phenotyping should be used, and the

definition of a “serious crime”. They

also highlight the importance of a

governing body with responsibility

for deciding when and how the

technology should be used.

DNA-based prediction is used in some European countries and forbidden in others. Adapted from Schneider,

Prainsack & Kayser/Dtsch Arztebl Int.

Careful consideration, consultation,

and clear regulatory safeguards

need to be in place to ensure these

methods are only used to exclude

persons of interest rather than

include or target specific groups.

DNA data also has inherent risks

around misinterpretation. People put

a lot of trust in DNA evidence, even

though it often gives probabilistic

findings which can be difficult to


What are other countries doing?

Predictive DNA forensics is a

relatively new field, and countries

across Europe have taken different

approaches regarding how and

when it should be used. A 2019

study across 24 European countries

found ten had allowed the use of this

technology for practical purposes,

seven had not allowed it, and seven

more had not yet made a clear

determination on its use.

Germany allows the prediction of

externally visible characteristics

(including skin colour), but has

decided biogeographical ancestry is

simply too risky to be used.

The one exception to this is the state

of Bavaria, where ancestry can be

used to avert imminent danger, but

not to investigate crimes that have

already occurred.

A UK advisory panel made four

recommendations last year. These

include the need to clearly explain

how the data is used, presenting

Safeguarding public trust

The AFP press release mentions

it is mindful of maintaining public

trust, and has implemented privacy

processes. Transparency and

proportionate use will be crucial to

keep the public on board as this

technology is rolled out.

This is a rapidly evolving field and

Australia needs to develop clear and

coherent policy that is able to keep

up with the pace of technological

developments - and considers

community concerns.

Caitlin Curtis

Research fellow,

The University of Queensland

James Hereward

Research fellow,

The University of Queensland

This article was first published on The Conversation

With a circular loam track covering

distances of 324m 453m 524m and 623m


0418 424 118

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 36

The 8 deadly days of Christmas:

how to stay safe from drowning in Australia this summer

Amy Peden

Lecturer - Injury Prevention, UNSW

Christmas is coming – meaning Australians are about

to enter our most dangerous time of year for fatal


The eight days from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day are

the deadliest period for drowning, with 201 lives lost over

the past 15 years, according to my new analysis.

Using coronial data from the Royal Life Saving Society

– Australia, my analysis shows a further 28 people

drowned on Australia Day during the same 15 year

period. My findings back up previous research, which

found people are twice as likely to drown in Australia on

a public holiday than any other day.

But the danger isn’t limited to major holidays. January

10 inexplicably emerged from my analysis as a key date,

with 32 people drowning over the past 15 years – more

than on any other single day of the year.

The sadly predictable spikes in preventable drownings

mean many river rescue divers and surf life savers have

come to dread summer.

The personal toll of preventable drownings

The Murray River is Australia’s leading river drowning

black spot.

For more than 40 years, Peter Wright OAM, a volunteer

rescue diver with the Corowa Rescue Squad, has

performed the harrowing task of retrieving bodies –

including children – from the river:

I have this feeling of dread as summer approaches. I find

myself avoiding going near the river, as seeing people

behaving badly or irresponsibly really gets to me […] I know

it’s not if, but when we will be called to search the river for

the next drowning victim […] The look of abject grief and

disbelief on the faces of relatives and the noise of wailing

families haunts me to this day.

Data from Surf Life Saving Australia paint

a similar story.

The number of people who get into

trouble at the beach spikes on public

holidays. With an average of 20 rescues

per day across the year in 2020/21, the

period from Christmas Day to New Year’s

Day sees this figure increase almost sixfold,

with an average of 116 rescues per


According to Chris Jacobson, National Surf

Life Saving Australia’s chair of lifesaving

and a volunteer surf lifesaver of 20 years:

Surf lifesavers are constantly on the go

attending to numerous rescues during

this period, in particular on Australia Day.

We see people not swimming between

the flags, ignoring lifesavers, drinking

and overestimating their abilities, which

therefore requires our members to go to

their aid.

5 factors driving more summer drownings

So why are Australians more likely to

drown in summer, particularly on public

holidays? And how can you be safer this



Alcohol is a leading risk factor for

drowning. It impairs reaction time, impacts

the effectiveness of cardiopulmonary

resuscitation (CPR) and can result in risktaking


Our breathalysing research at rivers

– which are the leading location for

drowning in Australia – found the average

blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for

adult river users was significantly higher

on the Australia Day public holiday, with

an average BAC of 0.175%. That’s more

than three times the legal limit for driving

a car.

Several river users also registered BACs

in excess of 0.350%, seven times the legal


Participation and exposure

More people in and around the water

means more people at risk of drowning.

Our research shows higher numbers of

people visit aquatic locations on holiday

periods during summer, including the

Australia Day public holiday. This is also

sadly evidenced in the rescue and fatal

drowning data.

Warmer temperatures

This deadly period for drowning often

coincides with hot temperatures. Warmer

weather drives people to seek out water

to cool off, but are also linked to higher

blood alcohol concentrations.

Higher air temperature also lead people

to spend longer in the water.

School holidays

School attendance has been shown to

be protective against drowning, with

school-aged children 5-17 years old 2.4

times more likely to drown during school


The Christmas school holidays also

coincide with this high-risk period and a

number of public holidays.

Visitors who don’t know local conditions

In a normal, non-COVID summer, many

Australians travel on their summer break,

including to unfamiliar aquatic locations.

Our research shows visitors have

increased drowning risk on public holidays

compared to other days: 2.5 times the risk

for people travelling within their own state,

and 2.3 times the risk for those visiting

other states or territories.

How to stay safer by the water this


• Check conditions of the river before

you get in, observe how fast the

current is going

• Ask locals about the safest place to

swim in a river

• Swim between the red and yellow

flags at the beach

• Avoid alcohol around water

• Always supervise young children in,

on, or around the water

• Always wear a life jacket when

boating or using watercraft

• Don’t drive, ride or walk through

floodwaters, and don’t let children

play in floodwaters

• Learn CPR so you have the skills to

act in an emergency.

Those simple steps can save lives – and

avoid so much needless pain, as volunteer

rescue diver Peter Wright says:

A drowning affects so many people. Not

just the family but all those involved in

the recovery, the police, ambulance and

divers. It is often more difficult to cope

with the pain-filled reactions of a family

when you recover their loved one, than

the task of diving in totally black, fastrunning,

snag-filled water, feeling for that

lost individual. I just wish that people took

water safety more seriously.

For more water safety information, visit

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia and

Surf Life Saving Australia.

This article was first published on The Conversation





4260 9464 0410 532 649

9 Hamilton St, Dapto NSW 2530

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 38

Book Review

There are some incredible books out there about the trials and tribulations,

heartbreak and satisfaction of working within the emergency services sector.

We aim to bring you some great recommendations within each issue. If you

have a book to recommend for our reviews, get in touch.



Author: Bill ‘Swampy’ Marsh


‘Us firefighters do more than fight fires. We also assist those who have

just gone through what’s probably the worst experience of their lives.’

The devastating 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires threw the

importance of our volunteer firefighters into sharp focus. But these

brave men and women don’t just step up to protect life and property

in fires; they are also there to help in road accidents, plane crashes,

natural disasters like cyclones and floods - and, yes, they even rescue

pets that have got themselves into strife.

In this collection of first-hand stories, ranging from the 1880s to 2020,

our courageous volunteer firies take us right up to the frontlines

and reveal the stark realities of the dangers they face to keep our

communities safe.

This book serves as a tribute to the thousands of volunteer firies across

Australia who roll up their sleeves and selflessly put their lives on the

line to assist their fellow human beings.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt taken from “Great Australian Volunteer Firies Stories”.

This exerpt from the book and a sample of the first few chapters can be found at www.

amazon.com.au. The book can be purchased here also and at any of your favourite

book retailers.

As I write this introduction, bushfires

have broken out in Western Australia.

At last report, something like ninety

homes in the Perth Hills may have

been destroyed and over twenty-five

thousand hectares of land burnt.

Arson is suspected. And now storms

are moving in to the north-east of the

state, bringing with them a predicted

one hundred millimeteres - four inches

- of rain and one hunred kilometre

per hour winds.

In my own state of South Australia,

within the last month a dozen

buildings, including houses, were

destroyed by fires in th Adelaid Hills,

with one case of suspected arson.

More than four hundred firefighters

were involved in containing the blaze,

which burnt through 2500 hectares

of lands. Particularly badly hit was

Cherry Gardens, where I used to live

when I first came to South Australia

back in the mid -1970s. I have friends

living around the Mylor-Bradbury

area who evacuated druring the fires.

It’s a frightening situation. We all saw

the footage of the catastrophic fires

that burnt through NEw South Wales

and Victoria during the 2019-20 fire

season. How could we not? At the

forefront of all these blazes stood our

volunteer fire service personnel.

As part of the interviewing process

for this collection of stories, during

Bill ‘Swampy’ Marsh is an awardwinning

writer/performer of

stories, songs and plays.

Based in Adelaide, he is best

known for his successful Great

Australian series of books

published with ABC Books:

More Great Australian Flying

Doctor Stories (2007), Great

Australian Railway Stories

(2005), Great Australian Droving

Stories (2003), Great Australian

Shearing Stories (2001), and

Great Australian Flying Doctor

Stories (1999).

‘One of Australia’s most popular

story teller/writers.’

—ABC Books.

‘From the ridiculous to the

sublime, from the bestial to

the bizarre, from the tall to the

tender, Bill Marsh holds his

readers in the palm of his hand

and tickles them with beautifully

controlled yarns of childhood…’

—Katharine England (The




August and September of 2019, I

travelled through outback SOuth

Australia, southern Queensland,

New South Wales and the Australian

Capital Territory. I was back on the

road in late December 2019, travelling

through Victoria. Then it was

over in Tasmania during Febrary and

March 2020. In fact, I just managed

to get the last boat out of Tasmania

before their COVID-19 restirctions

came in, and barely scraped back

into South Australia before the South

Australian-Victorian border closures

came into force. I would like to thank

all those people who housed and fed

me along my travels.

Book Review


Author: Darren Hodge


Because of COVID-19 restrictions,

my mid-year travels of 2020 didn’t

eventuate, leaving me withh a gap

in Western Australia, Northern

Queensland and the NOrthern Territory.

I’d very much like to thank Jamie

McElroy, media officer, Volunteer Fire

and Rescue Servies association of WA

(Inc) and Jess O’Reilly, media officer,

Queensland Fire and Emergency

Servies, for their assistance in helping

me find people to interview.

During the writing of this book I med

and talked with near on a hundred

people who have volunteered theri

time to fight bushfires and house

fires, attend road accident rescues,

help out in flooded areas, clean up

after cyclones and hailstorms, as well

as attend a myriad of other emergency

serviecs duties. Between the good

laughs and friendly banter I must

admit there were times I was brought

to tears by some of theri experiences,

all of which have left me with nothing

but utter admiration for these people

- our brave volunteer firies.

Keep well, stay safe and hopefully se’ll

meet up out on the road somewhere.

Bill ‘Swampy’ Marsh

January 2021

Image and Quotes: www.


When Darren Hodge was a kid,

a big, white, sleek ambulance

squatted like a lion in the driveway

next door, always ready to go, and

sometimes it did, roaring down

the street.

Today, he is a MICA Flight

Paramedic with decades of varied

experience in a life of extremes in

an Australian ambulance service.

He does shifts at base on-call, and

teaches another generation of

paramedics now. He loves his job.

A list of well-known events that

includes Victoria’s Black Saturday

Fires and the 2005 Bali Bombing

he was trying to get married when

that call came in marks two dark


Technical matters trauma

treatment decisions, and the

limits of aviation, for example, are

explained. And this book includes

the little things like the time

the supermarket aisle was alive

with the sound of music from

an ex-patients kids lips: Thanks

for looking after Daddy. Darren

couldn’t have put it better himself,

and it made his heart sing.

A Life on the Line tells what it is

like to be Darren Hodge on the

end of a line, what it is like to be a

paramedic. Open, honest reports,

warts and all, this memoir is an

unflinching account of how it feels

to pluck people from imminent

death. And there are some laughs

on the way.

Darren Hodges’ career in

Ambulance Victoria has been rich

with opportunities.

Only a few years had passed after

qualifying as a paramedic and

he was offered the opportunity to

undertake intensive care training,

known as MICA. He found the role

at times challenging, but highly


Tenures at the different

ambulance colleges unearthed

a love of teaching that continues

today and has spanned more

than 25 years.

Assisting paramedics to master

their craft has been one of his

most satisfying achievements.

After 15 years as a paramedic

he achieved his ultimate career

goal after joining Air Ambulance,

working on both fixed and rotary

wing aircraft.

He regards his experiences

working with highly talented

paramedics, pilots and crewman

at Air Ambulance as a career


You can find out more about

Darren Hodge and purchase his

book via his website or from your

favourite book retailers.

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 40


In each edition of the Australian Emergency Services Magazine we

feature a profile on a person, team, partnership, squad or unit to

showcase their unique contribution to the emergency services industry.

If you would like to be featured or know someone who deserves some

recognition get in touch with our team.

Disaster Relief Australia (DRA) was

launched in 2020, after a tenure

as Team Rubicon Australia, which

was founded in August 2016.

Their first disaster relief operation,

launched in April 2017, was in

response to the devastation

wrought by Tropical Cyclone

Debbie in Northern Queensland.

This operation, dubbed Operation

Dunlop, after WWII Surgeon Sir

Ernest Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop, saw

DRA deployed to the hard-hit town

of Proserpine.

For over three weeks 62 volunteers

worked tirelessly to help the

greater Proserpine community

recover from the disaster. As

importantly, they proved that

military veterans and emergency

services specialists are ideally

suited to conducting this type of


DRA member, Army Veteran and

current serving firefighter Adam

Moss says, ”Every time I put on

a Disaster Relief Australia shirt, I

am humbled by the fact that I am

about to be surrounded by the

best men and women this country

has to offer.”

The members that make up this

amazing organisation are definitely

‘Built to Serve’, and this dedication

to service of communities

impacted by natural disasters is

at the core of their values. DRA

believes that veterans, emergency

services specialists and other first

responders have unique skills and

experience that can be harnessed

to assist disaster affected


Bega Valley Bushfire Recovery June 2021


We have featured Disaster Relief Australia within the Australian Emergency

Services Magazine a few times over the last year as they are such an

incredible organisation. Their vision is to integrate veterans and emergency

services volunteers to build Disaster Relief Australia Teams across Australia,

serving local communities before, during and after natural disasters. They

have put boots on the ground across the country following the bushfires,

floods and cyclone disasters throughout the year. Disaster Relief Australia

make a difference not only to the communities they help but to the

veterans that are part of the teams.

“When deploying as a member

of the organisation you can be

guaranteed that three things will

occur, you will experience complete

cultural immersion, you will obtain

a feeling that you’re giving back

to the community, but most

importantly you will have a feeling

of being part of a team,” Adam said.

Disaster Relief Australia is a

professional disaster relief

organisation with a unique culture

and history. In recognition and

honour of DRA‘s veteran heritage

before they deploy into a disaster

affected area, they research the

history of veterans in the local



community and name the operation

in honour of them and their service

to our country.

With members located nationwide

DRA operates seven Disaster Relief

Teams (DRTs) in Townsville, Brisbane,

Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne,

Adelaide and Perth. Each DRT has the

capability to conduct disaster relief

and community support operations

with scaled capacity dependent on

the skills and deployment readiness

of volunteers as well as the location,

size and complexity of the disaster.

DRA CEO Geoff Evans says “Disasters

are more frequent and more intense

and for those affected deeply

personal. We’re determined to bring

help where it’s needed most despite

the challenges of deploying our

volunteer workforce nationally during

COVID restrictions.”

DRA completely appreciates there is

an ongoing need to build resilience in

communities. Vulnerable Australian

communities are increasingly

battling fire and flood. Nearly half of

Australia’s population live in regions

with only low to moderate levels of

disaster resilience. In partnership

with the Minderoo Foundation,

DRA plans to grow the numbers of

volunteers able to adapt and plan

during disaster offseason.

CEO Geoff Evans states “We know

that disasters will be more frequent

and more intense. We need to lead

the way in showing communities how

to help themselves. Our veteran and

emergency services led workforce will

be instrumental in training hundreds

of volunteers in disaster resilience.”

Over four years Disaster Relief

Australia aims to work with one

community per year per DRT as

part of a broader effort, we will

see Australia’s 50 most vulnerable

communities lifted to be on par with

our most resilient.

Damage assessment bushfire recovery WA

To find out more about Disaster

Relief Australia, the benefits of

joining and the impact on the

communities they serve visit: www.


Operation Elliot underway in response to the floods





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www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 42




Words: Brooke Turnbull

2022 Travel Wishlist

Lord Howe Island

As borders open and we move into the

promise of hot, summer days by the

beach, feasts shared with family and

the reuniting of all of us, we can’t help

feeling a bit excited that travel is once

again back on the cards. And this time,

it’s even including international travel,

a prospect many of us haven’t been

able to consider for the last two years

since the beginning of the COVID-19


This has somehow made the usual

excitement of summer even better than

ever and has seen the culmination in

many of our Christmas wishes come

true. So, to honour that, we thought

what better way to see out the year,

and our final Emergency Breaks for

2021, than by gathering our Wishlist

of all the places we want to see as we

move into the bright potential of 2022.

As we’ve got a number of areas to visit

in the next 12 months, this Emergency

Breaks won’t be like the usual, but we’ll

still give you a wrap up of the area, a

couple of accommodation options to

check out and things to do around

all the locations we’ve got on our

Christmas wishlist…we just hope Santa

is reading this.

1. South Coast New South Wales.

After a devastating 2019/2020 bushfire

season, dubbed Black Summer, the

areas of South Coast New Wales have

started rebuilding and are back, better

than ever and ready to showcase the

uniqueness of their truly beautiful


From the azure blue waters of Batemans

Bay to the rolling green hills that meet

the sea at Gerringong and Kiama, the

whole of the South Coast is not to be


Sea Cliff Bridge - the perfect drive along jewelled seas.

2. Kangaroo Island, South


South Australia, much like Western

Australia, has been pretty much

off the cards for most of the year

as their hard borders have been in

place. But now, with the majority

of the population fully vaccinated,

South Australia are opening up

and welcoming us all back. And we

couldn’t be happier about it.

Kangaroo Island is number two on

our wishlist for its stunning seaside

vistas, accommodation options like

Remarkable Rocks located on Kangaroo Island

Mercure Island Lodge, or, if you’re

more adventurous, simply hiring a

camper van from Kangaroo Island

Connect Campervan hire and

experiencing the island at your own


The island is famous, not only for

its wildlife (and its own breed of

kangaroo) but also for gastronomic

delights like honey, olives, eggs, wines

and spirits. So if you don’t mind a

cheese and wine platter (we definitely

don’t mind one at all) then Kangaroo

Island is the place for you too. So

hop on the ferry from Adelaide and

experience all the wonders of this

incredible place.

With quaint places to stay like The

Ridge Retreat B&B in Moolymook to

The Laurels B&B in Kangaroo Valley,

just outside of Kiama, there is nothing

like the comforts of home, but better

because you don’t have to wash up


Experience the jewelled seas, bush walks

and walking tracks, as well as lashings

of local produce from soft, delicious

cheeses, creamy butters and fresh, salty

seafood straight off the trawlers. There’s

a seemingly endless itinerary of things to

do, see and eat around this region, and

we will be happy to be back, indulging in

our every sense while we visit. This one

takes top spot in our Christmas wishlist,

and we have been very good boys and

girls, Santa, just so you know.

3. Melbourne, Victoria.

With the fact that Melbourne holds the record of the

longest lockdown in the world, which is definitely the

saddest record to hold, Melbourne needs more help than

ever to get back on her feet. Which is why we’re so excited

to head down for a visit as soon as possible!

The city of Melbourne doesn’t need much introduction,

as a certified cultural hub, this place has an endless sea

of things to do, places to go and venues to visit. From

rooftop bars, to rooftop cinemas, to rooftop art shows,

Melbourne sure does love a rooftop!

Explore the beautiful city of Melbourne

Street art, museums and cafes alike all have a taste of

the art that is created in this vibrant city. If you’re looking

for more fun, head down to the St Kilda foreshore for a

ride on the haunted rollercoaster at Melbourne’s Luna

Park. But if you want a more sedated time away, then

just strolling through Melbourne and setting up at a

cafe to people watch is a perfect way to wile away a few

hours. There are far too many accommodation options to

mention, but our top pick is The Langham Melbourne for

a five star stay to really appreciate the city and surrounds.

4. Margaret River, Western Australia.

Now that the borders are opening again, WA is definitely

in our top five of places to visit. With Margaret River right

at the top, because you know how we love our wine!

At the time of this article being printed, the Margaret River

region is under threat of bushfire, which makes it all the

more important for us to get out there and support the

local economies of our favourite places.

While craft beer, spirits and wine is the region’s main

attractions, there are also stunning natural wonders like

Lake Cave, a crystal chamber deep beneath the earth, to

explore and discover. So while, yes, we do love our wine,

with so much to see and do, the Margaret River region is

the perfect place for your next adventure. Our hot tip for

accommodation is the super quaint, perfect Victorian-era

escape in the Studio Guest Suites.

Catch a tram to the famous St Kilda beach and Melbourne’s Luna Park




P&R Engineering Services Pty Ltd

Engineering Consultants


144 Bray Road LAWTON 4501 QLD



5. Lord Howe Island.

Capping out our Top 5 travel wishlist for 2022 is Lord

Howe Island. Now we can fly freely again, Lord Howe is the

perfect place to take advantage of this fact. The island’s

rich history is it’s focal point and a great way to discover

more about our amazing country than you knew before.

With its picturesque mountain tops cascading into the

jewel blue surrounding seas, there really isn’t another

place like Lord Howe. And for such a tiny place, it

has an astonishing amount of things to do, from golf

to snorkelling, bird watching to hiking, as well as a

generous amount of tours both on the island and off it to


Even better is the experience of total relaxation and

escape from the hustle and bustle that Lord Howe

creates, and for a perfect unwind, the island community

offers yoga overlooking the sea. With its mouthwatering

seafood on tap, all the dining options at Lord Howe

Island will have you salivating. There are also a variety of

stunning properties to stay on the island, our top pick is

the Arajilla Retreat to really round off that escape from

the mainland feeling.

Sunset over Margaret River, Western Australia

So, whether it’s escaping from the city, or escaping to the

city. Whether you’re heading off for an adventure away

from the daily grind or you’re finally able to travel and

embrace loved ones again, we know there are plenty of

you with travel wish lists even longer than ours. We hope

those wishlists are fulfilled and Santa gives you the gift of

travel under the Christmas tree this year. We wish you a

happy and healthy holiday and we’ll see you in the new

year for more travel inspiration and a whole lot more

accommodation top picks and exciting things to see and


Lake Cave - a crystal chamber deep beneath the earth - Margaret River, WA

Located in Central Queensland

33-35 Dawson Hwy, Biloela


(07) 4992 4193

Automotive & Mechanical Solutions

Providing expert automotive and mechanical servicing and maintenance,

with cost-effective solutions delivered in the fastest possible time frame.

From mining equipment to medium vehicles and mechanical equipment.

We look after it all.





www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 46



DAY 1:


DAY 14:


DAY 30:


We know that the Delta strain of the COVID-19 virus spreads faster and more easily. In fact,

in just eight weeks the virus spread from just a few to more than 4,000 Aboriginal and

Torres Strait Islander people across many communities in one part of New South Wales this

year. The best way to protect yourself and the people around you is to get vaccinated.

Have a yarn to your healthcare worker about getting vaccinated today.




We’re always there to help.

Let’s make sure we help each other and ask R U OK?





Put your hand up for help.

The sooner you do, the sooner you get better.







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