Page 1518 - Week 05 - Thursday, 7 May 2015

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On 21 April, as a result of the severe storms in eastern New South Wales, the New South Wales SES formally requested the assistance of the ACT SES to provide cross-jurisdictional support in response to the weather emergency. As a result, the ACT SES deployed four task forces to assist with the New South Wales storm and flood disaster. These task forces consisted primarily of ACT SES volunteers drawn from all seven SES units. Over four deployments, a total of 87 ACT SES volunteers, two ACT Rural Fire Service volunteers, two ACT SES staff members, one ESA staff member and five SES vehicles were deployed. The willingness of these volunteers and the staff to support those affected by the disaster reflects the strong commitment to helping community in times of disaster.

Task force one, which consisted of 22 volunteers and a staff member, departed on Wednesday, 22 April for three days deployment to the northern Sydney region. Their role was to help relieve some of the New South Wales crews that had been working around the clock. The second task force of 23 volunteers was sent on Friday, 24 April for a three-day deployment after a further request was received for assistance in Sydney and the Hunter region. The third task force consisted of 19 volunteers, two ACT Rural Fire Service volunteers and a staff member and deployed on 28 April for four days to assist in the Hunter region. The fourth task force consisted of 23 volunteers and one ESA media staff and deployed on 1 May for four days to assist in the Lake Macquarie area.

These four task forces responded to 265 requests for assistance ranging from smaller jobs right through to very complex tasks. Both the New South Wales SES and the New South Wales Premier were extremely grateful for the assistance provided and have complimented the ACT SES task force members on their high skill level, commitment to the task and overall professionalism.

I encourage all interested Canberrans to consider becoming an SES volunteer. It is a fulfilling and worthwhile contribution to our community. The SES volunteers I meet are very proud to be part of our Canberra community and step up when called to help out.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Fitzharris.

MS FITZHARRIS: Minister, what were some of the tasks that our SES members were undertaking? How were they adequately trained to work in such difficult and often dangerous situations?

MS BURCH: Each of the four task forces deployed throughout eastern New South Wales undertook tasks including the management of fallen trees, maintaining scene safety, and managing roof and structural damage. Many of these tasks involved working at heights and under difficult environmental circumstances. Our volunteers and staff performed key incident management team roles throughout the deployment to ensure effective, efficient and safe integration of the ACT SES volunteers into the storm and flood response effort already underway by the NSW teams.

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