Page 3702 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 23 October 2013

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MADAM SPEAKER: Mr Corbell, do you want to add anything?

MR CORBELL: Yes, if I could answer, Madam Speaker. The Emergency Services Agency has undertaken detailed planning with a range of government directorates where those directorates are responsible for vulnerable persons. So whether that is the education directorate, which obviously has the direct responsibility for the care of children whilst they are at school or whether it is the Community Services Directorate which has responsibility for the operation of disability homes and so on, the ESA have established an elevated fire danger plan.

On days of elevated fire danger, such as days we are currently seeing, regrettably, in the Blue Mountains today, there are mechanisms in place to ensure that relevant government directorates are contacted and decisions made about whether or not certain facilities continue to operate, are closed, in the event of, for example, schools as the question referred to, or residents are evacuated in advance should it be people in vulnerable circumstances such as disability care group homes, nursing homes or other similar facilities.

So the elevated fire danger planning framework is well established across government and involves engagement between the Emergency Services Agency, which will make a declaration about elevated fire danger status, and then the response from the relevant operational agencies, such as education, community services and so on as to the decisions they will make and the information they will provide to parents or carers or whoever it may be about the decisions around the operation of facilities or the evacuation of residents from certain facilities.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Doszpot.

MR DOSZPOT: Minister, I will pose this question to you as well; you may want to consult with your colleague. Minister, how often are these plans revised and schools consulted?

MR CORBELL: Madam Speaker, I think this is a question for me. The plans have been developed comprehensively over the last two years in particular and are developed through the normal mechanisms for liaison between government agencies. Government agencies are also advised of revision and are alerted to the need to be familiar with the planning arrangements as we head into each bushfire season.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Smyth.

MR SMYTH: To either of the ministers: how often do Canberra public schools practise emergency evacuations?

MS BURCH: It is a routine part of their annual preparation and making sure that it is a safe environment for their students and teachers. I will get some advice about how often that happens in the calendar year, the academic year, but I know it is certainly part and parcel of their preparation for school safety.

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