The Emergency Management Act 2005 assigns specific responsibilities to local governments. The WALGA emergency management capacity building program held throughout 2012-2013, with funding received from the Natural Disaster Resilience Program (NDRP), highlighted the major challenges to many local governments committed to addressing their emergency management responsibilities: the sheer sixe of Western Australia, the diversity of the population, and the wide range of emergency situations (recent examples include bushfires in the Perth metropolitan area, the South West and South East, earthquakes in the Goldfields, cyclones on the North West coast and floods in the North East). With this in mind, WALGA developed a suite of emergency management training tailor made for local government. The training has made resources available, addressed risk and vulnerability and focused on increased planning and preparedness measures for communities across Western Australia.
The emergency management training is available to all local government emergency management personnel (including volunteers), CEOs, executives and elected members. The increased emergency management knowledge has enabled local governments across the state to improve their capacity to plan and prepare before, during and after an emergency in their community.
WALGA team with Minister Francis (4th from Left): Tony Brown,
Jaqueline Dodd, Bree Crocket, Sharna Sumpton, Tim Whitehouse.
A joint partnership between the Australian Red Cross and local government, funded by the Natural Disaster Resilience Program (NDRP), saw a very successful campaign encouraging the Augusta Margaret River communities to adopt a 'shared responsibility' approach to preparedness. The program, led by a multi-agency steering committee, used the expertise from all emergency management agencies as well as the local experiences and knowledge of community members.
Key highlights of the program included:
Get Ready! Sessions educated participants on a wide range of hazards and preparedness activities. Recent bushfires, flooding, storm damage and widespread power outages highlighted the need for an all hazards approach.
Getting to know your neighbours was one of 4 key messages promoted. One of many initiatives was a street party held at a disability group home – neighbours had the opportunity to meet the residents and learn how they can assist the more vulnerable members of the community in an emergency.
A variety of resources were made available through the Shire website, email lists, stalls at the Agricultural Show, Senior's Expo, farmers markets and key points including recreation centres, Shire offices and libraries.
The project evaluation showed:
Participants with an evacuation plan increased by 36.09% to 82.76%.
Participants with an emergency kit increased from 37.22% to 65.52%.
96.67% of participants knew which disasters were most likely in their area.
97.06% knew how to access information during an emergency.
70.59% had recently reviewed their insurance coverage.
64.29% had exchanged contact numbers with their neighbours.
91% of participants shared knowledge gained through the sessions with others.
Shire of Augusta– Margaret River and Australian Red Cross accepting Category Award from Minister Francis (Centre) Katie Taylor and Karen Edmeades
Photograph: Kate Drennan Photography
Shire of Augusta Margaret River and Australian Red Cross accepting Overall State Winner Award from Minister Keenan (Centre) Katie Taylor and Karen Edmeades
The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, following the Black Saturday bushfires disaster, highlighted that there was limited bushfire education in Australian schools. To address this need, Bushfire Patrol makes explicit links to the Geography and Science Australian Curriculum Learning Areas of the Australian Curriculum. Bushfire Patrol is a curriculum linked resource that addresses the risk of bushfire to one of the most vulnerable groups in natural disasters (children). The program is jointly funded through DFES and the Attorney General's Department, Natural Disaster Resilience Program (NDRP), in partnership with the Department of Education.
The resources focus on inquiry-based learning, which is a teaching and learning practice used across all classrooms. This approach encourages students to undertake research and form opinions which results in greater connectedness to the content being taught. The 5E's inquiry learning model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate) was used as a framework to develop the structure of five cognitively appropriate lessons each for Year 2s; Year 3 and 4s; and Year 5 and 6 students.
The program includes a set of take home activities: students are encouraged to work with their families to conduct a simple assessment of their bushfire risk and implement some easy but effective bushfire preparedness activities.
Preliminary evaluation of the program, suggests that the families of students who participated in the program, conducted more home preparation activities and were more likely to have a bushfire survival plan than they had before participating in the program.
Minister Francis (centre) with Jennifer Pidgeon from Department of Fire and Emergency Services and Howard Flinders from Department of Education
Photograph: Kate Drennan Photography.