Parliament: Questions Kelly's Asked

Bushfire Action Week – Response

The Hon. T.T. NGO: My question is to the Minister for Emergency Services. Can the minister tell the chamber what this government is doing to support and promote Bushfire Action Week?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety): I thank the honourable member for his question because, of course, we are now at an important time of the year. Although Mr President may feel as though summer is not yet upon us, I can assure the South Australian public that summer will come, and indeed bushfires will happen.

As members will no doubt be aware, the state has endured one of the most wet and windy seasons in recent times, with consistent rainfalls well in excess of monthly averages from mid‑autumn right through to spring. While this rainfall has seen a burst in green vegetation across South Australia, it is important to acknowledge the risk this increased fuel load may present as we move into the hot summer months and the bushfire danger season.

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure to officially launch Bushfire Action Week in Uraidla, with the chief of the Country Fire Service, Greg Middleton. Of course, other chiefs within the emergency services were also present. The key message we are promoting for this year’s Bushfire Action Week is that bushfires have happened in the past and that they will happen again in this coming summer. As such, we are asking everyone to plan now to survive, instead of leaving it until it is too late.

As part of Bushfire Action Week, the CFS will be holding a range of events throughout the state to help people prepare their bushfire plans. These include open days at stations and barbecues and information sessions at places like Bunnings warehouses, as well as advertising across both traditional and online media. I would also like to take this opportunity to draw members’ attention to a new online tool the CFS has launched, called ‘My plan to survive’. This allows people to prepare their bushfire action plan as well as save it on their mobile phones and share it with their family and friends.

The importance of preparing a bushfire action plan cannot be understated, as the risks in leaving decisions to the last minute are potentially fatal. The decision to leave early, the decision to stay and defend, arrangements for pets and livestock, staying informed through battery-powered radio, keeping your phone charged and checking the Alert SA app: all of these factors and more should be considered well in advance. This is why I encourage all members to help spread the important message of planning to survive as part of Bushfire Action Week to their constituents across the state.

I would also like to use this opportunity to thank all emergency services volunteers for their incredible efforts this year to date. We have a big season ahead of us and, while the risks remain present, as a state we remain thankful for having such a professional, highly trained and well-resourced emergency services sector. As a government, through measures announced in the state budget, such as an extra $1.5 million for volunteer training or $2.6 million for the replacement and retrofit of CFS trucks with life-saving burn-over technology, we will ensure that we are doing all we can to support the invaluable work of our emergency services volunteers—work that they do each and every year.

We have just under 14,000 CFS volunteers in this state. These men and women perform an incredible service for our community. No doubt, this year they will be called upon to potentially put their own lives at risk in service of the community. It is important for members of the community to remind themselves that it is an obligation upon them to fulfil their civic duty to ensure that they have their own bushfire action plans in place. Of course, if every community member were to do that, it would reduce the risk to those volunteers themselves when they are out there putting their own lives on the line.

I think it is reasonable for all members of the community to be expected to put arrangements in place themselves in order to do the right thing by those other members of the community who are volunteering their time and their precious resources and putting themselves at risk and in harm’s way in service of the community. We need to do everything we can, and I encourage all members of the South Australian public to ensure they have their bushfire action plans in place. There is no better time to do that than Bushfire Action Week, which, of course, is this week.

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: Supplementary question: do the bushfire action plan materials include accessibility measures such as captioned videos, Auslan, Easy English and so on? Also, is the mobile app that the minister mentioned accessible to people with vision impairment?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety): I know that the emergency services sector is constantly trying to make sure that the materials they produce do take into account all members of the community, whether that be through making sure that there are multilingual arrangements in place or, indeed, taking into account members of our community who may have a disability. I am happy to take on notice the specific areas that you have put in place. Rest assured, I get the sense that the leadership among emergency services are always trying to ensure that they are taking into account members of the community who might be in a minority group of some form or another. In regard to the specific measures you have just referred to, I am more than happy to take that on notice.

Response Recieved: 28/03/17

In reply to the Hon. K.L. VINCENT (1 November 2016).

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety): I am advised:

The South Australian Country Fire Service (CFS) has a large range of community bushfire preparedness information which includes a Bushfire Survival Plan. The information provided by the CFS is available in a number of accessible formats, including audio files, large print, Easy English and in languages other than English, and all video content produced by the CFS is captioned.

The Alert SA website and mobile app have been developed by the South Australian government to ensure services and information are readily available to as broad an audience as possible. Alert SA is committed to making these services available to everyone who needs to use them, irrespective of their age, nationality or accessibility requirements.

Whilst we aim to make all content accessible, there may be some exceptions (for example mapping content) which may not be able to be optimised for accessibility.

A text only version of the Alert SA website is also available (text.alert.sa.gov.au) which has been designed to be compatible with a range of screen readers, as well as with a range of older internet browsers.

During development works Alert SA has consulted with the following organisations:

Blind Citizens Australia—Adelaide Branch

Disability SA—Disability Access and Inclusion Plans Steering Committee

Royal Society for the Blind

Alert SA is continually looking to improve the delivery of public safety and warning information and as always feedback is welcomed.