Category Archives: Australian Capital Territory

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.

ACT | ACTSES celebrates 10 years of service

Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Simon Corbell, attended a special ceremony tonight to mark the ACT State Emergency Service (ACTSES) in serving the ACT community for 10 years.

“It gives me great pleasure to meet with the ACTSES volunteers and congratulate them for the professional way they assist the Canberra community,” Mr Corbell said.

“During times of storm or flood, the ACTSES is always at the ready to respond.

“During last week’s cold wintery blast, ACTSES volunteers attended to 54 calls for help from the Canberra community, attending to leaking roofs as well as fallen trees and branches.”

From 1974 to 2004, the ACTSES was known as the ACT Emergency Service. Under this title the emergency service did not have any legislative authority. On 1 July, 2004, it became the ACTSES and responsibilities and authority were given to the service under the Emergency Services Act 2004.

“The last 10 years have seen the ACTSES grow from strength to strength, with currently 236 active volunteers,” Mr Corbell said.

“One of the biggest operations that the ACTSES has undertaken was during the storm and wet weather event of late February and early March 2012, when the ACTSES received a total of 965 calls for help from the Canberra community during one week.

“Having a dedicated group of emergency service volunteers at the ready to respond any time of the day or night, every day of the year is appreciated and respected by all in the community and I would like to thank each and every one of them.

Tonight’s anniversary celebration also recognised one ACTSES member for outstanding service with Peter McEncroe receiving the inaugural Tony Graham Leadership and Values Award.

Commemorative medallions were presented to each of the ACTSES commanders from all seven units across the ACT, with the medallions also to be given to all current ACTSES volunteers.

New South Wales | Severe winter weather forecast for the weekend

The Bureau has issued a severe weather warning for damaging winds, this is expected to impact the people in Metropolitan, Hunter, Illawarra, South Coast, Central Tablelands, Southern Tablelands, South West Slopes, Snowy Mountains and Australian Capital Territory.

Damaging winds around 60 to 65 km/h with peak gusts of 90 km/h are forecast for Saturday for the Snowy Mountains forecast district and parts of the Metropolitan, Hunter, Illawarra, South Coast, Central Tablelands, Southern Tablelands, South West Slopes and Australian Capital Territory districts. Alpine Peaks may experience winds around 70 km/h with peak gusts around 110 km/h today and Saturday.

It is likely that good dumps of snow will be seen in the Alpine area as blizzard conditions are expected. The NSW SES is urging residents in southeast New South Wales to prepare for more strong winds and icy conditions this weekend, with many school-holidaymakers expected to be out and about.

To view all current warnings for NSW click here

During strong winds people should:

  • Move indoors, bringing in children and pets and keep away from windows
  • Stay clear of fallen trees and power lines
  • Do not go sightseeing
  • Listen to your local radio station for updates
  • Visit www.stormsafe.com.au for more safety tips.

For emergency help in a storm call 132 500. Dial 000 (triple zero) in life-threatening situations.

Australian Capital Territory | Community urged to discuss bushfire plan

An updated plan to keep Canberra at the forefront of bushfire mitigation planning has been released today for public comment by Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Simon Corbell.

Mr Corbell invites the ACT community to comment on the draft of the Strategic Bushfire Management Plan Version Three.

“The draft SBMP Version Three is designed to get the Canberra community’s attention about living in at risk areas where the city meets the bush and reinforces the government’s key message of ‘Living on the edge – help shape bushfire management in the ACT‘,” Mr Corbell said.

“The plan considers all bushfire risks across the ACT and sets out a clear direction for the government and the community to work together to reduce the risk of bushfires.

I encourage all interested people to review the planwhich is available on the ESA website at www.esa.act.gov.au –  and to provide their comments to the ESA Commissioner by 30 July. The release of this exposure draft provides Canberrans with further opportunity to provide feedback on the development of the plan. This follows the community consultations undertaken to date.”

Updates to the plan have resulted from community consultations and lessons learned from other jurisdictions over the past five years.

“A significant change includes the introduction of ‘bushfire prone areas’. The findings of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission highlighted that in relation to those who died in the bushfires ‘24 per cent seemed unaware that they were in a bushfire risk area‘.”

“This plan identifies the vital role the community members play in understanding and addressing the risk they and their families face in bushfire prone areas. This will allow the ESA to assess the risk as well as provide for specifically targeted bushfire education and awareness programs to the community.”

The Emergencies Act 2004 requires strategic bushfire management plans be reviewed at intervals of no more than five years.

Comments can be sent to the ESA Commissioner at sbmphaveyoursay@act.gov.au.

Australian Capital Territory | Severe weather keeps ACT SES crews busy

The ACT State Emergency Service has received a total of 38 calls for help since yesterday as a result of the wet and windy weather.

ACTSES volunteer units and ACT Fire & Rescue crews are responding to the jobs which are based largely on the northside of the city.

A large tree has crashed through the roof of a house in Ramage Place at Flynn. One residence in Macgregor experienced a partial ceiling collapse.

The majority of the other calls have been about fallen tree branches and minor flooding.

The ACTSES advise residents to keep clear of any potential fallen trees or power-lines, to secure any loose outdoor furniture, keep vehicles under cover and to keep clear of any fast flowing water.

For emergency flood and storm assistance call the ACTSES on 132 500.

Australian Capital Territory | Emergency Services to target female recruits

Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Simon Corbell, today announced that $160,000 has been set aside for a campaign to boost gender diversity within the territory’s emergency services.

“The Government is developing and implementing a Women in Emergency Services Strategy to attract and retain more women to emergency services, particularly focusing on increasing the number of women attracted to firefighting. The initiative, which has been allocated $160,000, will be funded from the agency’s existing resources,” Mr Corbell said.

“Women within the ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) currently make up 18.6 per cent of the total full time workforce and 26.4 per cent among the volunteer ranks, while women in ACT Fire & Rescue make up 2% of the total number of firefighters.

“The government wants to enhance diversity in the ESA and ensure the visibility and recognition of women, and the skills they contribute to emergency services in the ACT.

“The Women in Emergency Services Strategy will ensure the ESA builds a workforce that better reflects the community it serves, and provides an inclusive environment that respects and values all of its members, affording equitable opportunities and fully utilising the capabilities of all staff.”

The strategy will take into account feedback from staff and volunteers during a targeted internal consultation process including several workshops.

“The commissioner and chief officers are committed to the implementation of the strategy to ensure the organisational cultures embrace diversity and have welcomed the government’s support for this initiative.

“The ESA wants to be considered by women as an employer of choice across each of its services, and future recruitment efforts will specifically target women rather than previous generic media campaigns.

“It is envisioned this strategy will not only lead to a higher level of interest from women in careers within emergency services but also lead to increasing the number of women in the ESA and will hopefully facilitate more women to progress, on merit, to senior management roles. A more diverse workforce will give the ESA the capability it needs to better service the community in times of crisis.”

Australian Capital Territory | Possible Death Cap mushroom poisoning

ACT Health has been working closely with Woolworths and ACT Policing to investigate three cases of Death Cap mushroom poisoning that occurred in the ACT.

“We’d like to acknowledge the swift action taken by Woolworths in response to the initial information about the source of the mushrooms,” ACT Chief Health Officer, Dr Paul Kelly said.

“Investigations by ACT Policing in the last 24 hours have found no evidence that the Death Cap mushrooms consumed by the patients were purchased from Woolworths in Dickson.

“Our investigations are still ongoing as to the source of the Death Cap mushrooms, however this remains an isolated incident and there have been no other recent reports of Death Cap mushroom poisoning in the ACT.

“Two of the patients remain in a stable condition in ACT hospitals and one patient is currently receiving care at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney. ACT Health is seeking co-operation in respecting the privacy of these patients during this time,” Dr Kelly concluded.

People are reminded not to pick and eat any wild mushrooms. It can be extremely difficult for even experienced collectors to distinguish Death Cap mushrooms from other edible mushrooms.

Further information on Death Cap mushrooms is available via: http://www.health.act.gov.au/publications/fact-sheets/death-cap-mushrooms

This appears to be an isolated incident and there have been no other recent reports of Death Cap mushroom poisoning in the ACT.

Symptoms of Death Cap mushroom poisoning include stomach aches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Symptoms generally appear 6-24 hours after ingesting the mushrooms.

People are reminded not to pick and eat any wild mushrooms. It can be extremely difficult for even experienced collectors to distinguish Death Cap mushrooms from other edible mushrooms,” Dr Kelly said.

ACT Health and Woolworths will continue to work closely together to investigate this matter.

Australian Capital Territory | ESA to test telephone warning system tomorrow

The ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) will conduct a test of the national telephone warning system known as EMERGENCY ALERT tomorrow (Saturday 3 May, 2014) in selected areas across Canberra.

The EMERGENCY ALERT system was enhanced in 2013 to allow emergency services to target text messages towards specific locations on an expanded number of mobile phone networks.

The test will provide an opportunity to target a range of areas including the urban / rural interface, the inner city, a rural district, as well as an area with NBN coverage.

Trained operators within the ESA and ACT Policing will target streets in the suburbs of Conder, Turner, O’Connor, Fadden, Gowrie, Macarthur, Gungahlin and also at the Cotter Reserve.

The test will begin at 12pm and scheduled to conclude at 4pm. The test message will clearly identify that the message is a test and recipients should not call Emergency Triple Zero (000).