Government crackdown on people who assault emergency service workers

A new television advertisement will be used to underline the State Government’s crackdown on people who assault emergency service workers.

Legislation to be brought before State Parliament this week will introduce mandatory six-month minimum jail sentences for attacks. The laws will cover ambulance officers, paramedics, nurses and midwives, child protection workers and correctional staff. The penalty already applies to attacks on police.

Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the new laws made it clear the Government would not tolerate violence, threats or intimidation towards those who work hard every day to deliver vital services to the community.

“Paramedics often have to deal with stressful situations, where people are experiencing heightened emotions,” Mr Ferguson said.

“However, threatening them with violence, being aggressive, or resorting to violence is totally unacceptable and the cost could be measured in the loss of someone’s life.

“Assaults on frontline workers are completely unacceptable and the Government is taking strong action through a range of targeted new measures to make this very clear.”

Mr Ferguson said a public awareness campaign on the changes would include television advertising to underscore the message “Keep Your Hands off Our Ambos”.

Advertising will also appear on the back of ambulances bearing the catchline: “I can’t fight for your mate’s life if I’m fighting for mine”.


The Government has also rolled out a training program for paramedics to identify and manage risks.

If passed by Parliament, anyone who commits an offence resulting in serious bodily harm to a frontline worker will receive a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in jail. Health Union and the Law Society have raised concerns about the mandatory sentences, saying people suffering from a mental illness or who lashed out in pain could suffer unintended consequences.

Mr Ferguson said exceptional circumstances would be taken into account under the new laws. An ambulance officer attacked by a drunk has welcomed the jail sentence given to his assailant, but says tougher laws are needed protect emergency service workers.

Read more.

Emergency WA website publishing real-time WA bushfire information

A new website that provides a live feed of bushfire information to West Australians has been launched to give more accurate public safety warnings.

The Emergency WA website contains a map of all emergency incidents that have been reported to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES), updated in real time using data from multiple sources. It uses a live feed of triple-zero calls to keep information as up-to-date as possible.

Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis said the website would “paint in real time” a map of a fire front, using GPS data from automatic tracking devices attached to fire trucks.

“Rather than having trucks and sector commanders relaying over a busy and sometimes scrambled or confused radio network, where they are, where the fire front is, the Incident Controller will see in a map, in real time where the activity is happening,” Mr Francis said.

“All of that means that you’ll get a far more timely and more accurate picture of the perimeter of a fire.”

Western Australia is facing an above-average fire risk in the South-West and Eucla this season, similar to last year, but with a later start. Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Wayne Gregson said the new website would give people living in bushfire prone areas better and more timely information.

DFES control centre

DFES control centre

The Ferguson review of the fatal Yarloop fire, which killed two people in January, recommended location transmitting devices be attached to firefighting vehicles. Mr Francis said nearly the entire fleet of WA vehicles would be fitted out by the end of the year, especially in bushfire prone areas.

However, he said the government would take its time to design a rural fire service, which was the main recommendation of the Ferguson review.

“It’s not just a matter of cut and pasting what they’ve got in the Eastern states and applying it to Western Australia,” Mr Francis said. “We’re unique, we’ve got different cultures, different histories, different I guess levels of enthusiasm amongst different organisations.

“It’s a challenge but we’ll get there.”

The Emergency WA website will also contain warnings about floods, cyclones and hazardous incidents, as well as prescribed burns. It will amalgamate information from DFES, the Department of Parks and Wildlife and local governments.

Read more.

Introducing Program Committee Member Mr Graham M Sunderland.

Now going into its sixth year, in 2017 the Australian & New Zealand Disaster & Emergency Management Conference will be held from 22 to 23 May at Jupiters Hotel on the Gold Coast, Queensland.


Mr Graham M Sunderland

The Australian & New Zealand Disaster & Emergency Management Conference welcomes new program committee member Mr Graham M Sunderland QPM, MA, Grad. Dipl. (Cambs), Grad. Cert. (Dundee), BA (Hons), Co-Ordinator for Professional Development & International Police Training/ Senior Lecturer, Australian Graduate School of Policing & Security, Charles Sturt University. Program Director for Mid-Career Training for Senior Police Officers with the Indian Police Service.

Specialising in Leadership & Command for Emergency Management, Disaster Victim Identification and Major Investigations, both operationally and training, Graham is currently the co-ordinator for post-graduate qualifications in operational command and multi-agency investigations with Charles Sturt University. He was a police officer for over 30 years and a former Assistant Chief & Acting Deputy Chief Constable in Cumbria, UK (AC-Crime & Ops). He has chaired numerous UK emergency management committees such as Regional (NW) Emergency & Operational Planning, Resilience Forums and the Nuclear Emergency Planning & Resilience Committee.

Prior to that he was a Divisional Commander and a Senior Investigating Officer in West Yorkshire Police, one of UK’s largest police forces. He led various Process Improvement Projects including crime investigation and intelligence and headed many high profile homicide and other major investigations. Graham was the Lead for Public Protection and an International Hostage Negotiator Co-ordinator, working in Sierra Leone during the civil war alongside the British High Commission, United Nations and Special Forces. Graham has attended the Crisis Negotiation Course at the FBI College in Quantico, USA and was the Vice Chair of the National Negotiator Committee.

Graham was the Strategic Commander of widespread floods in Cumbria, UK in 2005. He was also the Director and author of one of the largest counter terrorist exercises ever held in the UK with over 3000 players.

Graham took the Lead on behalf of UK Government for Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) in 2005 and was the DVI Advisor at the London bombings. He reviewed the response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami in Thailand on behalf of Interpol and was the Identification Manager at the Selby rail crash. He was also the Strategic Advisor for the UK Government (Foreign & Commonwealth Office) on numerous disasters around the world and Vice Chair of the UK Emergency Management Committee. He provided consultancy support to UK Government (Cabinet Office) to improve UK resilience and was a member of the UK Major Disaster Advisory Team to advise commanders dealing with major events and civil emergencies.

After leaving the police, in 2009, he continued as the National Strategic Director for UK DVI and the Deputy Chair of the Interpol DVI Standing Committee. He spent 3 years as the Course Director of the Multi Agency Strategic Command Course training Chief Officers from all UK Emergency Services, Government Departments, Military and private sector industry, as an associate of the UK National Police Improvement Agency. Graham became the Director of his own Emergency Management & Training Consultancy until February 2012 when he joined the Australian Graduate School of Policing & Security.

In 2013 he was selected by The New Zealand Government as a member of the Pike River Mining Disaster Expert Reference Group to assist the implementation of the Royal Commission recommendations.

In 2009 Graham was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal and received the National Emergency Planning Society award for ‘the greatest contribution to the development of an emergency response capability within the Resilience Capabilities Programme’.

He has a Masters Degree in Leadership & Management, BA (Hons) Degree in Public Administration and Organisational Studies from the Open University, a Post Graduate Diploma in Applied Criminology from Cambridge University and a Post Graduate Certificate in Human Identification from Dundee University. Graham is married with 3 children and now resides in Queensland, Australia.

For further information on the 2017 Australian & New Zealand Disaster & Emergency Management Conference, to submit an abstract or to register please visit the conference website.




Red Cross calls for massive funding boost in disaster risk reduction

The Red Cross is calling for a radical change to risk management in Australia, and says disaster preparation needs to become as normal as wearing a seatbelt.

The organisation, one of the world’s biggest disaster relief agencies, has warned if nothing changes, relief costs will rise beyond the ability to pay for them and people will die unnecessarily.

Peter Walton from the Red Cross said the responses to recent storms across Australia and Hurricane Matthew in the Americas were an example of what is going wrong.

“We estimate that there needs to be at least a four-fold national increase in disaster risk reduction,” he said.

“Australia Red Cross is part of a business roundtable looking at disaster risk reduction, and that involved a whole range of companies, banking institutions, insurance companies.”


He said a relatively small investment in disaster preparation could save much more in the long term.

“We’ve submitted a report to the Productivity Commission which has demonstrated that for investments of around about $250 million per year, the Australian economy could save $13 billion,” he said.

“So an economic case is being put up because we’re spending about $9 billion a year in Australia on the cost of disasters.

“That’s forecast to double by 2030 and more than triple by 2050.”

Mr Walton believes there is little choice to do otherwise as disasters become more frequent.

Tracey Pannell, whose Tasmanian house was badly damaged in a bushfire three years ago, echoed Mr Walton’s calls.

She was about 40 minutes away from her home in Dunalley in the state’s east as the bushfire approached the town. She rushed home and grabbed some valuables, and her husband stayed to protect their home. “The fire did come right down within 50 metres of the home, and he defended the property as best he could,” said Ms Pannell. “We lost all of our faces, but all of our main buildings and everything he was able to defend.” The lack of preparation is a mistake she said she will never make again.

Ms Pannell said it can take a major event before people realise the importance of disaster preparation. “Until you’re actually faced with it, you don’t think about it,” she said.

“We’re all busy and we all think it will never happen to us. “But once it does, I think it’s just a gentle reminder and you will never forget to be prepared.”

Read more.

Australia a regional leader in natural disaster response

Australia is a regional leader in responding to natural disaster and humanitarian crises, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, minister for international development and the Pacific, has indicated in a statement.

“Australia’s humanitarian assistance helps to save lives and alleviate suffering in the aftermath of natural disasters and humanitarian crises and makes an important contribution to regional security,” Fierravanti-Wells said.

The minister said: “Within 48 hours of a disaster, Australia can deliver emergency relief supplies, deploy response teams, and fund partner organisations to provide life-saving assistance.”

Fierravanti-Wells went to Darwin last week 6-7 October, to meet with organisations that are leading Australia’s efforts in assisting countries in the Indo-Pacific region prepare and respond to natural disasters.


In a statement, the minister highlighted the role of key humanitarian organisations in Australia’s regional humanitarian and disaster-relief efforts.

One such relevant organisation is the Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT), which includes the country’s top medical specialists. AUSMAT has provided immediate care for thousands of victims of regional crises, including Cyclone Winston in Fiji earlier this year and Typhoon Haiyan which ravaged the Philippines.

The National Critical Care Trauma Response Centre, the Royal Darwin Hospital, and the Menzies School of Health Research, also provide the Indo-Pacific region with vital health assistance.

Also critical to Australia’s advocacy of reaching out to disaster-prone countries in the region is the role of the Bureau of Meteorology, which is responsible for tracking cyclones and other weather events, which helps Australia and neighbouring countries prepare for and respond to natural disasters.

Read more.

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service needs YOU

Cancer patient Tameeka Ieremia owes her life to zombies.

The post-apocalyptic creatures usually take lives rather than save them, but a zombie army that has risen up in Adelaide is helping ensure the city has a stable blood supply.

The Adelaide Zombie Walk group is part of Red 25 – a team of community groups, schools and workplaces across the nation who donate blood to help achieve 25 per cent of Australia’s annual blood collection, or 1.3 million donations each year, to meet patient demand.

The zombies – who will stage their annual charity walk on October 15 – are a group of regular donors who have so far donated 42 times this year, benefiting patients like Ms Ieremia, 22, of Elizabeth Grove.

She has needed almost eight litres of blood via 45 blood and platelet transfusions since she was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukaemia in March this year.

Leukemia patient Tameeka Ieremia with blood donating zombies, from left, Stacey Atkinson, Adam Bates, Aaron Broomhall, David Sandison, Sabrina Cavallaro and Chris Antonello. Picture: Mike Burton

Leukemia patient Tameeka Ieremia with blood donating zombies, from left, Stacey Atkinson, Adam Bates, Aaron Broomhall, David Sandison, Sabrina Cavallaro and Chris Antonello. Picture: Mike Burton

Ms Ieremia is urging people to donate much needed blood this long weekend as the Australian Red Cross Blood Service is on the hunt for more than 150 blood donations over the break.

“I didn’t realise how important it (blood donation) was until I actually started receiving it,” she said.

“It’s something people should really consider doing – you actually are genuinely saving people’s lives.”

Blood Service spokeswoman Rebecca DiGirolamo said donating blood helped a range of people.

“Over long weekends, it’s vital that we maintain blood supplies, especially platelets – a blood component needed by cancer patients like Tameeka undergoing chemotherapy,” she said.

“Platelets have a five-day shelf life which means the Blood Service needs a constant flow of blood donors, without interruption.”

Read more.


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