Tuesday, 24 January 2017
Power for at-risk electricity users
Dignity Party MLC Kelly Vincent has called for urgent implementation of recommendations pertaining to “vulnerable” people made in the Independent Review of Extreme Weather report.
“There are some South Australian families who literally face issues of life and death if the power goes off, they need some certainty in times of emergency,” said Ms Vincent.
“Whether that is because they are using appliances in the home, such as respirators, alarms or oxygen pumps or if it is because they need to blend food to a very fine consistency to enable PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) feeding, their lives depend on electricity.
“I have also been contacted by parents from regional areas, who are concerned about their ability to call a doctor or emergency service, because once they connect the National Broadband Network (NBN) with fibre-to-the-node, being without electricity could leave them without a home phone. Mobile phones could be rendered useless, with mobile towers without power or busy with emergency services operations. Fibre-to-the-node is not suitable for battery back-up, and without a reliable mobile network lives could be at risk.
“Lessons have been learnt through the experience our state went through in September, but the government must now implement recommendations such as identifying and registering vulnerable community members to ensure they get the support they need in their own homes.
“Dignity Party is proud to have achieved new standards for Australian Sign Language (Auslan) interpretation during emergencies so that deaf South Australians can get the information they need to be safe. But it’s clear that the government’s implementation of this has a long way to go.
“Although there was some use of Auslan interpreters, it was up to my office to make arrangements for that on the evening of 28th September, so it surprises me it is listed as one of the successes of the emergency management. The process is still not clear, and along with interpretation for NESB communities, needs to be pre-planned, not done on the run.
“The state-wide severe thunderstorm and tornado outbreak on 28th September 2016 has potentially taught us many lessons. The Dignity Party welcome this report, and urge the government to look at the needs of people with disabilities, chronic health conditions and older people who rely on electricity for their lives and wellbeing. We ignore these timely warnings at our peril,” said Ms Vincent.