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Review of the April 2008 Windstorm – Victorian Government Response (DOC, 83.5 KB)

The Government thanks the Emergency Services Commissioner for his valuable report and recommendations.

The Government broadly supports the recommendations of the report in principle. The Government has undertaken and continues to undertake significant work in a number of areas identified by the report. Some of that work is directed towards ensuring that Victoria is prepared for the next fire season.

The Government notes that the bushfires of January and February have led to the establishment of a Royal Commission inquiring into a number of the areas considered in the report. Implementation of the report's recommendations will need to be considered in light of any findings of the Royal commission.

Recommendation

Victorian Government Response

Recommendation 1 – The Victoria State Emergency Service finalise its development of strategic emergency response management plans including severe weather and storm events

The Government is currently implementing the recommendation. It will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 2 – The Integrated Emergency Coordination Centre be utilised during all significant multi agency incident events with effective liaison with the State Emergency Response Coordinator

The Government is currently implementing the recommendation. It will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 3 – The emergency management arrangements include the development of partnerships between the public and private sectors, in particular the involvement of government departments and essential services

The Government is currently implementing the recommendation. It will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 4 – Electricity distribution business develop and implement alternative arrangements for monitoring fallen powerlines

The recommendation is being implemented. These arrangements may need to be given further consideration in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 5 – The former Department of Primary Industries should establish a senior emergency management position to strengthen the Department's role in emergency management. This position should be the interface between private sector energy providers and whole of government response entities, with the objectives of better coordination of data and information, including the flow through to CGRC and clearer media management functions. The transition of roles from previous arrangements at the Department of Infrastructure to the former Department of Primary Industries reinforced to all staff and the sector.

The Government intends to implement this recommendation and notes it will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 6 – The former Department of Primary Industries responsibility for emergency management within the energy sector needs to be reinforced consistent with Recommendation 5.

The Government intends to implement this recommendation and notes it will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission

Recommendation 7 – The Department of Human Services improve its communication with councils to enhance delivery of recovery services.

The Government is currently implementing the recommendation. It will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 8 – The Victoria State Emergency Service improve its communication with local governments, especially in relation to severe weather and storm warning information.

The Government is currently implementing the recommendation. It will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 9 – The review of the municipal emergency management planning guidelines being led by the Office of the Emergency Services Commissioner clarify local governments' role in community information about emergencies.

The Government is currently implementing the recommendation. It will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 10 – The electricity distribution businesses and retailers work with the Department of Human Services and hospitals to review the registration, notification and removal process for those on life support machinery.

The recommendation is being implemented It will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 11 – Energy Safe Victoria finalise the development of the passport system to improve interstate mutual aid arrangements allowing operator access to qualified interstate power restoration personnel

The Government is working as part of COAG Ministerial Councils towards implementing the recommendation. It will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 12 – The former Department of Primary Industries should work through the appropriate Ministerial Councils to seek alignment of competency standards for line workers across jurisdictions.

The Government is working as part of COAG Ministerial Councils towards implementing the recommendation. It will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 13 – The Bureau of Meteorology contact list for severe weather warning be strategically managed in consultation with Emergency Service Organisations, to identify critical contacts. The Bureau of Meteorology must ensure the detail for these critical contacts remains up to date.

The Government intends to implement this recommendation and notes it will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission

Recommendation 14 – Emergency Service Organisations work with government departments, local governments and private industry to identify and implement a model for communications flow during an emergency incident

The Government intends to implement this recommendation and notes it will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission

Recommendation 15 – The former Department of Primary Industries, Department of Premier and Cabinet, and the Office of the Emergency Services Commissioner review and clarify energy sector emergency trigger points for the activation of Central Government Response Committee.

The Government intends to implement this recommendation and notes it will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission

Recommendation 16 - The former Department of Primary Industries clearly document responsibilities within the Department to ensure better co-ordination of public information during emergencies.

The Government is currently implementing the recommendation. It will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 17 – The Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA), in partnership with Telstra, consider technological solutions to streamline the handover process for Triple Zero calls

The recommendation is being implemented. It will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 18 – The Country Fire Authority review their procedures regarding receipt of Triple Zero calls on the Brigade Spectrum Preset Conference including training material, testing procedures and interface back to the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority Computer Aided Dispatch system

.

The Government intends to implement this recommendation and notes it will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission

Recommendation 19 – The Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority in partnership with Telstra should develop testing regimes that will ensure the integrity of the call queue arrangements and correct configuration of the Recorded Voice Announcements.

The Government intends to implement this recommendation and notes it will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission

Recommendation 20 – Emergency Service Organisations review their use of Emergency Alerting System paging message categories to ensure that priority messages are not compromised by inappropriate use. An education program may be required to ensure that all users understand message categories, their intended use and ramifications of each category on network and message delivery sequence.

The Government is currently implementing the recommendation. It will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 21 - TheEmergency Services Telecommunications Authority develop a protocol to direct the suspension or cessation of scheduled telecommunication maintenance or testing to emergency alert systems during an emergency event.

The Government is currently implementing the recommendation. It will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 22 - The Emergency Service Organisations and the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority agree on the direct telephone numbers to be used

The Government is currently implementing the recommendation. It will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 23 – The Office of the Emergency Services Commissioner facilitate further research into technologies that will reduce the need for the public to speak to an operator during an emergency as a component of the proposed emergency warning and alert system and Victorian Emergency Information Line.

The Government intends to facilitate the research in this recommendation and notes it will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission

Recommendation 24 – Victoria progress, as a matter of priority, a telephony based public emergency notification system to reduce demand on Triple Zero and other emergency telephone lines during a major emergency.

The Government is working as part of COAG Ministerial Councils towards implementing the recommendation. It will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 25 – The Australian Broadcast Corporation and Emergency Services Organisations redevelop the protocols for the use of the Memorandum of Understanding: and all relevant emergency services and ABC staff are trained in the use of the protocols.

The Government intends to implement this recommendation and notes it will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission

Recommendation 26 – The Victorian State Emergency Service, the former Department of Primary Industries, Energy Safe Victoria and the energy sector develop a coordinated set of safety messaging about preparedness for storm events and clearly outline the responsibilities for delivering these messages before during and after an emergency

The Government is currently implementing the recommendation. It will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 27 – Victoria's emergency management arrangements as they relate to the Emergency Management Joint Public Information Committee be enhanced to include greater clarity of its operational role in the Emergency Management Manual Victoria.

The Government intends to implement this recommendation and notes it will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission

Recommendation 28 – The operational protocols of the Emergency Management Joint Public Information Committee be formally endorsed by the State Emergency Response Planning Committee and the Victorian Emergency Management Council Coordination Group, and the Emergency Management Joint Public Information Committee be a member of the Victorian Emergency Management Council Coordination Group.

The Government intends to implement this recommendation and notes it will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission

Recommendation 29 – The Emergency Services Organisations and relevant agencies ensure that the operation of the Emergency Management Joint Public Information Committee is included in their resourcing and operational planning.

The Government intends to implement this recommendation and notes it will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission

Recommendation 30 – The former Department of Primary Industries in consultation with the Energy sector develop and Implement a Memorandum of Understanding or similar authorising instrument that provides a single contact for emergency information and arrangements for co-ordinating the communication of this information to the public, government, emergency management agencies and distribution business during significant power outages.

The Government is currently implementing the recommendation. It will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 31 – The State Government endorse the establishment of the Victorian Emergency Information Line and it is developed with appropriate protocols to ensure linkages and information flows to the energy sector

The Government supports this recommendation in principle and its implementation will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 32 – The electricity distribution businesses enhance power outage information on their websites, which are accessible to electricity retail business, the media and the public and also consider improving their capacity to communicate with customers

The electricity distribution businesses advise they have improved the information for consumers and are working to enhance their public information systems. These matters will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 33 – All Victorians should:

§ Make sure they have a plan for severe storms which includes:

o An emergency kit (Batteries, torch, radio with batteries, spare medication etc.)

o Ensure that vegetation surrounding power lines on personal property is appropriately managed|

Know where and when to access emergency information and advice

The Government intends to implement this recommendation and notes it will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission

Recommendation 34 – The Victorian State Emergency Service work with the electricity distribution businesses, the former Department of Primary Industries and Energy Safe Victoria to develop and implement a joint community education program for public safety during and after storms and power outages

The Government supports this recommendation in principle and its implementation will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission.

Recommendation 35 – The Department of Premier and Cabinet, the Office of the Emergency Services Commissioner and other relevant departments conduct further work to determine the need for a power to appoint a coordinator of essential services restoration.

The Government intends to implement this recommendation and notes it will need to be further considered in light of any findings of the Royal Commission