Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 March 2017) . . Page.. 943 ..
pods containing showers and toilets that can be deployed. The decision to set up portaloos or provide ablution facilities in addition to the facilities provided in staging areas is made by the on-site controller. In making this decision, the on-site controller takes into account matters such as the location, size, scale and complexity of the bushfire event and any facilities that are already available nearby. Typically, in the event of a bushfire, staging areas—that is, areas where crews are typically brought for briefing, tasking et cetera—are set up with the appropriate toilet facilities. The toilets are individual unisex toilets that have been appropriately fitted with sanitary requirements for male and female members.
In addition, the bush firefighting course conducted by the ACT Rural Fire Service provides training for all volunteer members and includes hygiene matters. Volunteers are reminded that when they are on standby, they need to be ready to respond at a moment’s notice. In this regard each volunteer is required to have a kit bag ready with the items that they may require, and a roll of toilet paper is listed as an item a volunteer must have as part of their kit bag.
I have asked the ESA to look at the most recent feedback in relation to the availability of toilet facilities for women in the event of a bushfire and to ensure that all the resources available are being used to the fullest extent. I can advise the Assembly, however, that we cannot guarantee that portaloos or ablution facilities will be set up at every bushfire event.
Bushfires are dynamic situations that can cover large swathes of land and move rapidly, requiring the deployment of crews over large distances. It would be irresponsible to guarantee the provision of portaloo facilities at every fire site. Based on feedback I have received from other volunteers, this is a view shared by others in the ESA.
Let me assure the Assembly that I am not dismissing the concerns of those who want to ensure that all possible barriers to women increasing their participation in our emergency services are removed. I share those concerns. Furthermore, as a matter of good operational practice, the ESA is always willing to hear comments and feedback from staff and volunteers. In fact, I direct the Assembly’s attention to the fact that the ESA has recently held four comprehensive roundtables to discuss a broad range of issues with staff and volunteers.
The ACT Emergency Services Agency is a leader in Australia in its work to attract more women into emergency services roles and to ensure that the best people thrive, regardless of their gender. I will continue to work closely with the ESA to work through all issues of importance to women and ensure they are appropriately addressed.
MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra) (6.16), in reply: Members today have heard about the significant work that ACT Labor is doing to ensure women and girls in our community are treated as equals in the economic, social and political spheres. We know that this is a complex issue, so we are tackling it from many angles. We recognise the importance of celebration and recognition to support social change, as