Page 4729 - Week 15 - Tuesday, 13 December 2005
this morning where ESA Commissioner Peter Dunn refutes the allegations made by nameless volunteers.
Everyone acknowledges that in an operation as big as the one we saw on the weekend before last there will always be lessons that can be learnt. The operation spanned 51 suburbs and the ESA have acknowledged that there were some difficulties in delivering meals on time. However, they reject the allegation that anyone waited 12 hours for a meal.
I am advised that the SES introduced a catering for on-duty members policy on 10 May 2005, which confirms that during local storm or flood events the SES will arrange for catering for deployments spanning more than three hours or where volunteers have been called out before or during a mealtime. It also highlights the need for volunteers to be prepared to be fully self-sufficient for periods of up to 24 hours in certain circumstances.
Mr Smyth: In the middle of a city?
MR HARGREAVES: Have you finished?
MR SPEAKER: Order!
MR HARGREAVES: I am further advised that the following arrangements were in place during storm cleanup operations. On Friday, 2 December, meals were provided by the RFS for volunteers in the field from catering points established at the Belconnen SES unit, the Jerrabomberra RFS brigade and the ESA headquarters in Curtin. On Saturday, 3 December, breakfast was catered for at the Gungahlin JESC. Lunch for volunteers was arranged through a commercial provider and drinks and snacks were available at the Gungahlin JESC. Dinner, provided by the Raiders club, was also available at the JESC.
On Sunday, 4 December, SES and RFS crews were invited to attend the lunchtime volunteer day barbeque at Black Mountain Peninsula or, alternatively, to purchase their own meals with arrangements in place for later reimbursement. On Monday, 5 December, a full sit-down lunch was provided for volunteers at the Dickson tradesmen’s club.
The advice I have from Commissioner Dunn is that at no time were volunteers asked to operate in an unsafe environment or asked to use unsafe equipment. No SES member or any other personnel deployed in the cleanup should have been working in unsafe conditions. Induction training for all SES members includes competency-based OH&S training and reinforces the absolute requirement to follow OH&S and service operating procedures.
In a cleanup of this size it is to be expected that equipment will be damaged. I am informed that the ESA logistics centre maintains a cache of spare equipment, including protective clothing and equipment, which can be deployed quickly to field crews through recall arrangements. The logistics centre was especially opened on Friday night to allow additional resources to be provided to crews in the field. This included chainsaws and equipment to provide temporary relief to affected property owners. On 2 December, an SES team reported defective chainsaw chaps and arrangements were made for them to be