Utilise local knowledge

Utilise local knowledge 

13 September 2011

published by www.abc.net.au

Australia — A farmer impacted by the Black Saturday bushfires in north east Victoria says commonsense and local knowledge should play an important role in the Victorian Government’s review of emergency response management.

Deputy Premier and Emergency Services Minister Peter Ryan has launched a green paper on emergency management reform. The paper lists 32 options of reform including one umbrella body to oversee all emergency service organisations.

Mudgegonga farmer Loretta Carroll says one body overseeing procedures is worth considering as long as local communities are involved in the process.

“They need to recognise the huge resource and knowledge skills in local communities.

“When a fire or other emergency hits, they are the one’s (locals) that are on site and their ideas and skills need to be utilised.”

Ms Carroll says the effects of Black Saturday bushfires could have been a lot worse without local knowledge.

“Fortunately the local people here are pretty switched on and they possibly saved a lot of people’s lives. Local fire captains and local management certainly helped police. They had the skills to help prevent some issues that could have worsened.”

Ms Carroll says commonsense is also important following a disaster.

“All departments (involved in recovery) they need to be flexible and reduce some of the regulation that slows the recovery process down.”

Rochester caravan park owner Michael Haisman agrees that local knowledge should be utilised. He is also an advocate for one central agency in charge of emergencies.

Since September 2010, Mr Haisman’s caravan park has been impacted by four separate floods in September, November, January and February.

“Three were manageable but January was a one in 200 year flood and it was uncontrollable, it was too big for everyone involved and I think a central agency would be a great idea to control a flood like that.

“A lot of the people did a fantastic job, but (some of them) their homes and families were under threat to and here they are expected to be out helping the community and they have got problems themselves… I just think you need to bring experts from outside the area that have no ties and can do a job.”

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