Category Archives: Australian Capital Territory

Australian Capital Territory | #DeathCap mushrooms in the ACT

Acting ACT Chief Health Officer, Dr Andrew Pengilley today reminded the community that there are Death Cap mushrooms growing in and around the ACT.

Dr Pengilley said Death Cap mushrooms can easily be confused with edible wild mushrooms.

“People should not pick or eat any wild mushrooms,” Dr Pengilley said.

“All parts of the Death Cap mushroom are poisonous, and eating just one can be fatal. Cooking the Death Cap mushroom does not make it safe.

“In Canberra, Death Cap mushrooms grow mainly near established oak trees.

“It can be extremely difficult for even experienced collectors to distinguish the small button Death Cap from an edible mushroom.

“Anyone who suspects that they might have eaten Death Cap mushrooms should seek urgent medical attention at a hospital emergency department.

“The sooner treatment begins, the better the patient’s chances of survival,” Dr Pengilley said.

In the last 15 years, there have been four fatalities associated with Death Cap mushrooms in the ACT.  During this period there have also been a number of poisonings associated with Death Cap mushrooms in the ACT.

It is advised that people remain vigilant and remind friends and family who are visiting or new to Canberra not to pick and eat any wild mushrooms. For safety, all mushrooms should be purchased from a reputable supplier.

A Fact Sheet providing important information about the Death Cap mushroom is available online at http://www.health.act.gov.au/research-publications/fact-sheets

Australian Capital Territory #ACT | Minister opens new South Tuggeranong ACT Fire & Rescue station

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Joy Burch today officially opened a new Fire & Rescue station to serve the Tuggeranong Valley and Lanyon for many years to come.

“This new state-of-the-art Fire & Rescue station is the latest facility the ACT Government has delivered to the Canberra community as part of the ACT Emergency Service Agency (ESA) Station Upgrade and Relocation Strategy,” Ms Burch said.

The new facility replaces the ACT Fire & Rescue Station on the corner of Scollay and Reed Street at Greenway.

“The site was selected by the ACT Emergency Services Agency after extensive research, which included station location modelling to ensure that new emergency service stations are located to respond to emergency incidents across the Territory as effectively as possible.”

“This is the second new emergency services station delivered under the ESA Station Upgrade and Relocation Strategy.  In late 2013, a new Ambulance and Fire & Rescue station was opened at Charnwood, West Belconnen, and work has recently commenced on delivering a new co-located Ambulance and Fire & Rescue station at Aranda.”

“This wonderful new Fire & Rescue station in South Tuggeranong is clear evidence of the ACT Government’s commitment to better serve the emergency service needs and expectations of the Canberra community,” Ms Burch concluded.

The new Fire & Rescue station contains many environmentally sustainable design initiatives. These include:
• Rainwater harvesting;
• Hydronic in-slab heating and cooling;
• Solar generated electricity and solar powered hot water systems; and
• LED sensor lighting.

Canberrans will, tomorrow, have the opportunity to visit their new Fire & Rescue station with an ‘open day’ being held between 10am and 3pm at the new station which is located right next to the roundabout at the intersection of Tharwa and Drakeford Drives.

Australian Capital Territory #ACT | Minister releases ACT #Ambulance Service change blueprint

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Joy Burch today released a blueprint for enhancing professionalism of the ACT Ambulance Service (ACTAS).

“Enhancing Professionalism: A Blueprint for Change is the culmination of a number of internal review processes that the ACT Ambulance Service has undertaken over the past 18 months,” Ms Burch said.

“The ACT Ambulance Service continues to deliver the highest standards in relation to response times and patient satisfaction. ACTAS staff deserve great credit for being able to achieve this outstanding performance in a time of record demand for ambulance services here in the ACT. There can be no doubt that ACTAS excels in meeting the technical challenges of delivering its services to the community.

“One of the most significant inputs to this blueprint was a cultural review undertaken by the consulting firm O2C, including a series of stakeholder interviews, workshops, worksite visits, individual submissions and an employee survey. The report identified important organisational challenges for ACTAS to address as part of a transition to a more professional culture including improvements to its capability, culture, and leadership approach.

“ACTAS has gone through a comprehensive and exhausting process to honestly examine its strengths and weaknesses as an organisation. I would like to sincerely thank all ACTAS staff and the TWU for their contribution to these reviews.

“We now have a blueprint for change which shows a genuine way forward.  ESA will establish a Change Implementation Review Group (IRG) which will include ESA Commissioner, the TWU and an independent representative external to ACTAS who will be providing me with quarterly reports on progress.

“We will be engaging with the workforce around:

  • Developing a statement and an understanding with employees (“An accord”) to promote trust; acceptance of individual accountability for performance, actions and behaviour
  • Creating an agreed vision for ambulance services to enable employees to see how they can contribute to the organisation and through the organisation to the community as a whole (“Build a buy in”)
  • Improving accountability for outcomes through greater oversight of the ambulance reform program by the ESA Commissioner and Oversight Implementation Committee;
  • A focus on leadership development and personal accountability (“Set the Right Examples”)
  • Improving internal communications through process and action
  • Transformation of the existing culture to one more aligned with a future vision (“adaptive chance”)

“I have asked the ACTAS Chief Officer, supported by the ESA Commissioner, to implement this blueprint for change as a matter of priority. I am confident that ACTAS will continue to enhance its reputation and ability in the provision of ambulance services.”

The Blueprint is located on the ESA website: http://esa.act.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/ACTAS-Enhancing-Professionalism-A-Blueprint-for-Change-Report.pdf

Australian Capital Territory | Death Cap mushrooms found in Canberra

ACT Chief Health Officer, Dr Paul Kelly today alerted the community that Death Cap mushrooms have been found in the ACT.

Dr Kelly said Death Cap mushrooms can easily be confused with edible wild mushrooms.

“People should not pick or eat any wild mushrooms,” Dr Kelly said.

“All parts of the Death Cap mushroom are poisonous, and eating just one can be fatal. Cooking the Death Cap mushroom does not make it safe.

“It can be extremely difficult for even experienced collectors to distinguish the small button Death Cap from an edible mushroom.

“In Canberra, Death Cap mushrooms grow mainly near established oak trees in mild, moist weather typically observed in late summer and autumn.

“With the recent cool weather, Death Cap mushrooms have been found around Canberra,” Dr Kelly said.

“Anyone who suspects that they might have eaten Death Cap mushrooms should seek urgent medical attention at a hospital emergency department.

“The sooner treatment begins, the better the patient’s chances of survival,” Dr Kelly said.

In the last 15 years, there have been four fatalities associated with Death Cap mushrooms in the ACT.  During this period there have also been a number of poisonings associated with Death Cap mushrooms in the ACT.

It is advised that people remain vigilant and remind friends and family who are visiting or new to Canberra not to pick and eat any wild mushrooms. For safety, all mushrooms should be purchased from a reputable supplier.

A fact sheet providing important information about the Death Cap mushroom is available online at: http://health.act.gov.au/publications/fact-sheets/death-cap-mushrooms

ACT | TOTAL FIRE BAN DECLARED in the ACT tomorrow with a SEVERE Fire Danger Rating forecast

ACT Emergency Services Agency Commissioner Dominic Lane has declared a Total Fire Ban for the whole of the ACT under Section 114 of the Emergencies Act 2004 from:

12:00am Friday 14 November, 2014 to 11:59pm Friday 14 November, 2014.

The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting Hot and windy conditions tomorrow with a predicted temperature of 35 degrees.

The Forecast Fire Danger Rating (FDR) for tomorrow is predicted to be SEVERE.

If a fire starts at the forecast fire danger level of SEVERE it may be uncontrollable and move quickly. Flames may be higher than roof tops.

Expect embers to be blown around. Spot fires may occur up to 4 km ahead of the main fire.

There is a chance people in the path of a fire may be injured or die. Some homes and businesses may be destroyed.

Leaving early is the safest option for your survival.

Well prepared and actively defended houses can offer safety during a fire.

The ESA advises you to make sure you know where you will get more information and monitor the situation for any changes. You can do this through local ACT media outlets, the ESA website www.esa.act.gov.au ,the ESA Twitter and Facebook accounts or by calling Canberra Connect on 13 22 81.

For details on nature reserves and road closures as a result of the total fire ban in the ACT visit www.tams.act.gov.au.

If a fire starts during the Total Fire Ban declaration period, the ESA advises you monitor the situation for any changes through local ACT media outlets, the ACT Emergency Services Agency website www.esa.act.gov.au or by calling Canberra Connect on 13 22 81.

To find out more about Total Fire Bans log on to the ACT Emergency Services Agency website www.esa.act.gov.au or call Canberra Connect on 13 22 81.

ACT | Revised bushfire plan for the community

A new Strategic Bushfire Management Plan for the ACT has been tabled in the Legislative Assembly by Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Simon Corbell, today.

“With the official start of the ACT Bushfire season on 1 October, I am pleased to deliver this important piece of work by the ACT Emergency Services Agency, which provides a framework for the management of bushfires across the territory,” Mr Corbell said.

The SBMP highlights high risk areas where the bushland meets the built-up area of Canberra. Areas at risk from bushfire across the ACT have been identified on Bushfire Prone Area maps.

“Close to a quarter of all dwellings in the ACT are located in the area identified as BPA,” Mr Corbell said.

“I ask every Canberran to visit the ESA website www.esa.act.gov.au to view these draft maps to determine if they live in a bushfire prone area. The maps are part of an integrated program to address bushfire risk by both the ACT Government and the community.”

The plan identifies the vital role of the community in understanding and addressing bushfire risk. An awareness campaign will be launched later this year that will target residents in Bushfire Prone Areas through face-to-face engagement.

The ACT Government will also review the ESA’s current bushfire capability to identify the needs of our fire services into the future.

“It is vital for the ACT’s firefighters to respond to fires in a rapid, decisive and coordinated manner,” Mr Corbell said.

“The SBMP plans for future risks, taking into account changing demographics, the growth of our city and climate change. Through planning and more resilient infrastructure, we are able to better prepare ourselves for these changes.”

The SBMP version three can be found on the ESA website, www.esa.act.gov.au.

ACT | Canberrans reminded to be StormSafe

Canberrans need to prepare for the ACT storm season in order to minimise damage and risk, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Simon Corbell, said today at the launch of the annual ACT State Emergency Service StormSafe campaign, at Floriade.

The campaign reminds all ACT residents to be ‘StormSafe’ during the upcoming storm period.

“With the storm season here from now until till March, it is important for all of us to prepare to minimise damage and risk at our homes,” Mr Corbell said.

“Once again this season, the ACTSES has partnered with the NRMA and is reminding the ACT community that ‘doing a little could save the lot’.

“Clearing gutters, trimming trees and branches, securing loose outdoor furniture as well as replacing any broken roof tiles are some of the ways we can all be more StormSafe.”

Over the next week, ACTSES volunteers will conduct a series of educational activities to inform children and remind parents how to be more StormSafe.

Following today’s activities at Floriade, the National Arboretum and Questacon will next weekend host ACTSES volunteers to show ways we can prepare our properties for storm season.

During the lead up to today’s StormSafe launch, ACTSES Volunteers teamed up with Canberra Legacy to personally assist Canberra widows by cleaning out gutters and downpipes and trimming tree branches where necessary to assist in preparing their homes for the storm season.

“Last week’s work with Canberra Legacy will prove very beneficial during the next downpour or storm activity,” Mr Corbell said.

“Ensuring gutters are clear of leaves and debris greatly improves water flow during storms and heavy rains. Last financial year, there were 1,417 calls for help to the ACTSES for storm and flood assistance.

The ACTSES is ready to respond any time of the day or night, every day of the year. Residents who require storm or flood assistance can call the ACTSES on 132 500.

ACT | Measles case notified in Canberra 18.07.14

ACT Acting Chief Health Officer, Dr Andrew Pengilley is alerting Canberrans to be aware of measles symptoms after a case was notified to ACT Health on Friday 18 July 2014.

“The Health Protection Service is following-up identified contacts in line with national guidelines,” Dr Pengilley said.

“This includes contacts in a GP surgery located on the north side of Canberra and Canberra Hospital Emergency Department where the case attended.  These contacts have been identified and are being followed up directly.

“Members of the public may also have been exposed to the case at the Kaleen Plaza Shopping Centre and Kaleen Supabarn between 10am and 12noon on Wednesday 16 July 2014.

“We’re advising anyone who attended this shopping centre at these times to be aware for symptoms and to seek medical advice if they develop symptoms.

“The symptoms of measles may include fever, tiredness, runny nose, sore eyes and a cough, followed by a rash which appears 2-7 days later. People generally develop symptoms 7-18 days after being exposed to a person with infectious measles, with 10 days being more common.  People are infectious from 5 days before they develop a rash until 4 days after,” Dr Pengilley said.

“Measles is a potentially serious disease and is highly contagious among people who are not fully immunised.  The virus is spread from an infectious person during coughing and sneezing or through direct contact with secretions from the nose or mouth.

“Anyone with symptoms of measles should advise their health provider before they arrive at the medical clinic so that appropriate infection control precautions can be put in place to stop the spread of the infection.

“The most effective protection against measles is vaccination. Two doses of Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine (MMR) are recommended and are normally given to children at 12 months and 18 months of age.  However the vaccine can be given at any age after 9 months,” Dr Pengilley concluded.

ACT Health has information about measles online at: www.health.act.gov.au/publications/fact-sheets/measles

ACT | Seven days to have your say on fire plan

Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Simon Corbell, is encouraging Canberrans to have their say on the territory’s Strategic Bushfire Management Plan before the public response period closes in seven days.

“Prepared by the ACT Emergency Services Agency, the draft SBMP Version Three sets out the direction for the community and the ACT Government to work together to reduce the risk of bushfire in the ACT,” Mr Corbell said.

“Since the draft version was published on the ESA website on 18 June, already more than 800 page views have been made by the community.

“The theme for the plan, ‘Living on the edge – help shape bushfire management in the ACT’, has seen more than 225 submissions from the public since February, which will be considered in finalising the plan that is due for release in October.

“During this last week of public consultation, I strongly urge Canberrans to view the draft version, either through www.esa.act.gov.au or at libraries and ACT Government Shopfronts, and get an understanding of what the ACT Government is proposing to do to manage bushfire risk across the territory.”

The community plays a part in implementing the SBMP, which is reviewed every five years. Almost a quarter of all dwellings in the ACT are located in Bushfire Prone Areas, which could be directly affected by the introduction of mandatory construction standards the SBMP may trigger.

“The draft BPA maps will assist Canberrans to determine if they live in a Bushfire Prone Area. The maps are part of an integrated program to address bushfire risk by both the ACT Government and the community.

“Comments on the draft SBMP are welcome and can be addressed to the ESA Commissioner until
30 July at sbmphaveyoursay@act.gov.au.”

ACT | Canberra has best ambulance response times of any state capital in Australia

Improvements in the ACT Ambulance service have resulted in the ACT now having the best priority one response times at the 90th percentile of any Australian capital city, according to an independent review.

Minister for Police and Emergency Service, Simon Corbell, today released the report, which showed significant financial investment from the ACT Government had led to major improvements in the structure, governance and performance of the ACT Ambulance Service.

The report, which evaluates the implementation of key recommendations arising from the 2010 Lennox Review into the ACTAS, found major improvements right across the service, including:

  • The ACT now has the best priority one response times at the 90th percentile of any capital city in Australia.
  • ACTAS has reduced its ambulance attrition level from 10% per annum – the worst of all Australian ambulance services – to 2.6%, which is far below the national average rate.
  • Overall patient satisfaction has increased from 96% to 98% and paramedic attitude has increased from 97% to 99%.

“The original Lennox Review, released in May 2010, made a number of recommendations that required major reform to areas of clinical governance, front-line resourcing, service delivery models and management team capacity to better prepare ACTAS to meet growing demand and continue to provide the high quality of ambulance services that the ACT community enjoy,” Mr Corbell said.

“The government responded to these recommendations, with increased recurrent and capital funding of $35 million being provided to ACTAS in successive budgets since 2011-12, which has enabled the successful implementation of such major reforms over the past four years.”

Mr Grant Lennox, who was engaged to evaluate progress against his original recommendations, states that “my evaluation findings are overwhelmingly positive, reflecting great credit on the ACT Government for allocating significant additional resources to ACTAS to ensure provision of a first class responsive ambulance service to serve the ACT community”.

In the report Mr Lennox states: “The Government’s Funding injection to ensure the provision of a first class ambulance service to serve the ACT community has led to a revitalisation of the ACT Ambulance Service.

“The energized management team now leads a professional workforce better focused on patient safety, clinical excellence and response performance.

“All key areas of ACTAS from ambulance communications through to frontline emergency response, clinical governance, patient safety and complaints handling have all improved substantially, demonstrating a commitment to provision of a first class service.”The Government’s funding injection to ensure provision of a first class

Mr Corbell said it was pleasing news in light of the increasing demand for ambulance services in the territory, which have increased from 34,000 responses in 2007-08 to 43,000 in 2012-13.

“I join Mr Lennox in commending ACTAS staff and the Transport Workers Union for their shared contribution in successfully implementing such wide ranging reforms targeted at strengthening the service to the benefit of the ACT community,” Mr Corbell said.