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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 12 Hansard (30 October) . .

Page.. 3832..

It is now 11 years later, and Canberra Connect's and the ACT government's emergency response capability has matured significantly since then.

Canberra Connect now has a defined public information liaison role as outlined in the ACT community communication and information plan, a subplan to the ACT emergency plan. It works closely with all relevant areas of both ACT and federal government to ensure that its emergency capability and responsiveness are effective.

Canberra Connect representatives attend the emergency coordination centre and public information coordination centre when they are activated. This liaison officer plays a key role in clarifying public inquiries received by Canberra Connect, helping the teams to gauge the effectiveness of communications as well as ensure that information provided through Canberra Connect is up to date and accurate.

Canberra Connect's role has grown over the years. It provides emergency call handling services on behalf of several directorates, including for storms, floods, fires and other incidents affecting the safety or health of ACT residents and businesses.

From bus service disruptions to road closures, fallen trees, stormwater drains being blocked or overflowing, assistance schemes and helping people re-establish their lives or businesses after a devastating event, Canberra Connect has been there to help our community to access government services, as well as assisting behind the scenes.

In 2013-14 Canberra Connect handled over 1,500 calls and 700 requests for assistance for the State Emergency Service. It also provided online registration and call handling services in response to the Sydney Building fire.

Canberra Connect is a general contact point for matters like death cap mushrooms and it delivers call handling services on behalf of the ACT Health Protection Service during public health events. A public health event may include, but is not limited to: a communicable disease outbreak; release of biological, chemical and radiation hazards; contamination of the drinking or recreational water supply; food supply contamination or a food-borne illness outbreak; pharmaceutical or therapeutic good contamination, adverse events or recalls; major loss or damage to sanitation infrastructure; and/or the public health consequences of extreme weather events or natural or technological disasters.

Canberra Connect also provides the community with information during animal-related emergencies, such as when the ACT was controlling equine influenza or when the community was being alerted to the presence of the invasive species Madagascan fireweed, and is also a contact point for the national emergency animal disease watch hotline.

Canberra Connect also supports smaller emergencies like the electrical incident at Gowrie Primary School earlier this year, by providing information to the community on school bus services.

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