Tag Archives: Queensland

Queensland | Proposed changes to provide security for sick firefighters

Queensland firefighters will be provided with greater certainty in their worker’s compensation coverage for latent onset diseases under legislative amendments the Palaszczuk Government has introduced to State Parliament.

Treasurer and Minister for Industrial Relations Curtis Pitt said the proposed amendments would make it easier for firefighters to access compensation for work-related cancers.

“The former LNP government had three long years to deliver on this important deemed disease legislative reform for Queensland’s permanent, auxiliary and volunteer firefighters, and it failed to do so,” he said.

“Under our proposed changes, if a firefighter develops one of 12 specified cancers and meets the qualifying period of active firefighting service, then the cancer will be deemed to be work-related.

“This is part of Labor’s election commitment to firefighters.

“Firefighters are essential to the safety and peace of mind Queenslanders and they can always count on the Palaszczuk Government’s support.

“Our amendments will ensure local firefighters who get sick after fighting house fires or containing grass fires will not have the burden of proving that their cancer is the result of their firefighting work.

“Critically, this means they will get access to their compensation benefits in a more timely fashion.”

The proposed amendments in the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 have been modelled on similar laws introduced in other Australian jurisdictions.

They are enhanced by incorporating the most recent advice from the Australian and international research into the links between firefighting work and cancer.

Importantly, the provisions will apply to all current or former firefighters who are either employed by the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services or engaged as volunteer firefighters by the Rural Fire Service Queensland.

“No other deemed disease scheme in Australia offers volunteer firefighters unfettered access to common law damages, and the same entitlements as permanent and auxiliary firefighters,” Mr Pitt said.

“With this Bill, the Queensland Government is ensuring that those firefighters who contract one of the specified cancers are given the financial security to look after their families, allowing them to focus on their treatment.”

For more information on Queensland’s workers’ compensation scheme visit worksafe.qld.gov.au or call 1300 362 128.


Queensland #QLD | Three people dead as #extremeweather continues to affect the state

Since yesterday afternoon, swift water rescue crews and SES flood boat operators were called to assist with more than 30 rescues of people in vehicles, stranded in flood water.

Police have confirmed the death of three people after an incident on Dances Road, Caboolture last evening.  Around 5.30pm, police received information that a vehicle had been swept away by flood waters. A man believed to be in his 70’s, a woman believed to be in her 30’s and an 8-year-old boy were pronounced deceased at the scene. There is no further information available at this time.

As at 7am today, more than 1800 requests for assistance (RFAs) have been recorded since 5pm Thursday 30 April. The majority of the requests recorded were for assistance with flood damage and sandbagging. The majority of the RFA’s are for the Brisbane area.

Since 9am yesterday, Caboolture received 360mm of rainfall, while Burpengary, Bracken Ridge, Beerburrum and Glasshouse Mountains all recorded more than 200mm of rain. Upper Springbrook received 202mm of rainfall and Upper Lockyer received 120mm.

QFES is reminding South-east Queenslanders to be vigilant as a number of roads are still flooded. Do not enter floodwater by car, bicycle or on foot. Not only will you put your life at risk, you will also put emergency services lives at risk. The message is simple, if it’s flooded, forget it.

Queensland #QLD | #Dam levels in South East closely monitored as rain falls across region

Minister for Water Supply Mark Bailey has been assured by Seqwater that South East Queensland’s dam levels are being closely monitored as rain falls across the region.

Mr Bailey said the latest advice from Seqwater is that rainfall over the last few hours means controlled gated dam releases are required from Wivenhoe, Somerset and North Pine dams tonight.

“I understand Seqwater is already releasing water from Somerset Dam into Wivenhoe Dam to manage inflows, and that this is necessary to balance storage levels across both dams as part of normal operational procedures,” he said.

“Seqwater has advised that, although both flood storage compartments of Wivenhoe and Somerset dams are available, high inflows mean that controlled releases are now required.

“I’m advised impacts are only expected to relate to the closure of minor river crossings, with controlled releases expected to occur over the next few days.

“Based on Seqwater’s advice that 11 un-gated dams are spilling, people should take the utmost care downstream of these dams. Remember, if it’s flooded, forget it.

“I’ve been assured that Seqwater flood engineers maintain a 24/7 watching brief of all dams across the region.

“Their job is to monitor dam levels in association with rainfall forecast and the potential consequences of inflows into South East Queensland’s dams.”

Seqwater’s Flood Operations Centre was mobilised earlier this afternoon.

Mr Bailey said residents should also consider information available from other agencies, including local councils for road closures, and the Bureau of Meteorology for weather forecasts.

South East Queensland residents can be alerted of gated dam releases or dams which are spilling by signing up to Seqwater’s free dam release notification service.

To register for Seqwater’s dam release notification service, visit www.seqwater.com.au/dam-release-information-service

For the latest information on Seqwater dam levels, go towww.seqwater.com.au/water-supply/dam-levels


Queensland #QLD | #Grassfire research to better equip fire services

New research into grass curing rates will aid fire services in planning, preparedness and response to some of Queensland’s most dangerous vegetation fires.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Fire Behaviour Analyst Andrew Sturgess said the research would give fire services and communities a more accurate indication on fire behaviour and fire danger ratings, increasing firefighter and community safety.

“As grass responds much faster to climatic, seasonal and local weather than forest or bushland, grassland fuels become available to burn much faster than other areas of mixed vegetation,” he said.

“The fuels are finer so they burn faster and because they are more open, they react to variations in wind speed and direction more readily than bush or forest fires.”

Mr Sturgess said the current method of calculating grassland curing rates (the proportion of live to dead fuels) and fuel loads utilises visual observational data collected by 67 QFES observers across the state.

“Their observations are provided to the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and this information is combined with weather conditions to determine local grass fire danger rating (GFDR), which in turn is used by local authorities, land holders and residents in fire mitigation and management as well as in QFES response to any vegetation fires that may spark,” he said.

“Fire danger ratings give an indication into expected fire behaviour; based on temperature, fuel loading, wind speed.

“QFES Predictive Services Unit (PSU) is working with the National Emergency Management Projects (NEMP) on a project looking into the development of an improved assessment for grassland curing rates which will be fed into fire behaviour modelling projects.”

Led by the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) and supported by CSIRO, this project will design a national technique for determining grassland curing and fuel load based on the most up to date science and technology.

The project will test and validate current methods for assessing curing rates that will be combined with the latest satellite monitoring technology to create a dynamic map of near real-time grass curing across the state.

“We will be working with local Rural Fire Service Queensland (RFSQ) brigades to conduct burn offs in areas of fully cured and semi cured grassland,” Mr Sturgess said, with burns being conducted near Toowoomba today.

“Local brigades will provide suppression capability, a critical part of managing these controlled burns.

“With a greater understanding of the curing percentage of the fuel, fire services can more accurately estimate the behaviour of a fire if it were to start and better allocate resources to provide the most appropriate response to significantly reduce risk to fire service personnel, communities and property.

“With more accurate predictions and fire danger ratings, firefighters can be better prepared and with enhanced information on expected fire behaviour operations will be safer and more effective.”

Queensland #QLD | #Firefighters on #arson alert in central Queensland

Firefighters are warning residents of the consequences of arson, following a number of suspicious fires across the Rockhampton and Cawarral areas over the weekend. 

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Assistant Commissioner for Central Region Ewan Cayzer said the suspicious fires that broke out in Tropical Cyclone Marcia affected areas were hindering the efforts of firefighters working hard to reduce the elevated threat in these locations.

“Investigations are underway into multiple fires in the Cawarral area over the weekend which we believe may have been lit with malicious intent,” Mr Cayzer said.

“Given there is increased fuel loading from Tropical Cyclone Marcia, these types of vegetation fires can rapidly spread out of control on a dry or windy day.

“Taskforce Marcia was established this month to identify high risk areas due to the cyclonic effects on vegetation and to enable planning to reduce these threats.

“It is very disappointing some senseless individuals have chosen to take advantage of the increased risks this season.

“The consequences of arson can be devastating and place lives and property in danger.”

Mr Cayzer said fighting unnecessary fires also put a strain on local QFES resources, which were devoting valuable time to reducing fire risks in these areas.
He urged the community to work together to achieve a safe community free from fire bugs.

“We need the community to help us by keeping an eye out for suspicious behaviour, particularly during fire season,” he said.

“Everyone should also keep in mind seemingly innocuous actions like flicking a cigarette butt out a car window also have the potential to cause dangerous fires so be careful of your actions.”

Mr Cayzer reminded landowners about the importance of fire permits as failing to comply with permit conditions could also result in arson charges.

“Landholders also need to pay close attention to fire bans and restrictions before lighting,” he said.

Residents are encouraged to report suspicious fire activity to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

For further information on how to obtain a fire permit, visit www.ruralfire.qld.gov.au

Queensland #QLD | No shortage of #whoopingcough #vaccine

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said today there is no shortage of vaccines for the state’s pertussis (whooping cough) immunisation programs for children and pregnant women.

Following today’s media reports of a shortage in Queensland, Dr Young moved quickly to reassure people that there was no danger of running out of vaccines.

“Although there is a world wide shortage of the vaccine, our immunisation programs for children and pregnant women are not experiencing shortfalls,” Dr Young said.

“Queensland uses a different brand of the vaccine for the pregnancy program to the one in short supply, so there is no issue at all for the state’s pregnant women and their babies.

“The Department of Health supplies the pertussis-containing vaccine to the School Immunisation Program, Childhood Immunisation Program and the Whooping Cough Vaccine for pregnant women program.

“The vaccine for pregnant women is free and provided to General Practitioners and Hospital and Health Services to administer.

“There may be some short term shortages in the private sector in circumstances where patients are seeking immunisation outside the children’s program or the program that is in place to support pregnant women.”

Dr Young said reports of people being allegedly deferred by GPs would only be in cases where the vaccine was not time critical.

“These people can return when supplies are again available,” she said.

“People seeking a dose outside of the state government’s childhood program, school program or the program for pregnant women should seek advice from their GP.

“If a GP cannot obtain vaccine for the patient at that time, the patient should discuss options with their GP, as the GP will be in the best place to determine what is necessary in their particular circumstances.

“Other patient enquiries should be directed to 13 HEALTH.”

Dr Young said the Department of Health was active in the prevention of deaths caused by whooping cough, particularly in infants under three months..

“Pregnant women in their third trimester are encouraged to be vaccinated for pertussis due to updated recommendations in the Australian Immunisation Handbook,” Dr Young said.

“Vaccination in pregnant women has been shown to give direct and effective protection to the pertussis disease in newborn infants through the transfer of maternal antibodies in utero,” she said.

“I encourage all pregnant women to consult with their doctor about being vaccinated for whooping cough, considering the serious risks the respiratory disease can have to infants.

“Studies have found no increased risk to pregnancy associated with the vaccination and that the vaccination delivered in the third trimester can protect the baby until the recommended three-dose primary schedule for infants.”

Dr Young said that two booster doses were recommended during childhood to continue to protect the child through to their early teens.

“Booster pertussis-containing vaccines are also recommended for children aged 18 months and then four years.”

Queensland #QLD | Queenslanders commit to fight against #Hendra

A team of research experts from the Hendra Virus Taskforce say Queensland volunteers who have put their hand up to join the fight against Hendra virus will have the thanks of the entire community.

Queensland’s Department of Health has been granted approval to begin testing a monoclonal antibody against the Hendra virus on human volunteers this year.

The approval follows the announcement in late 2013 of a $1.2 million state and federal grant to fund a human clinical safety trial.

The human trials will be run at the Q-Pharm clinics at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and will be supervised by renowned Hendra virus specialist Dr Geoffrey Playford from the Princess Alexandra Hospital.

“The human monoclonal antibody m102.4 was developed for the treatment of Hendra virus infection in people,” Dr Playford said.

“To date, the antibody has only ever been used on compassionate grounds in eleven people.

“Of these patients, 10 survived but there was insufficient information to determine whether the use of the monoclonal antibody influenced this outcome which is why further research is required.

“Based on our research to date, we expect the monoclonal antibody to prevent a person becoming infected following contact with an infected horse and to improve their chances of survival if they have already become infected.

“The screening process to recruit 40 suitable volunteers for the human trials began late last month.

We require healthy men and women aged between 18 and 50 for the trial and, at this stage, our volunteer numbers are looking good.”

A monoclonal antibody is a laboratory-produced molecule that’s carefully engineered to attach to specific defects in a targeted cell – in this case a Hendra virus cell.

Dr Playford said monoclonal antibodies mimicked the antibodies the human body naturally produced as part of the immune system’s response to germs, vaccines and other invaders.

“Almost like an intelligent missile, the monoclonal antibody is designed to seek out Hendra virus cells,” Dr Playford said.

“The antibody is designed to attach to part of the Hendra virus, thereby alerting the body’s immune system to the virus’s presence and marking it for destruction.

“The main objective of the study is to evaluate the safety and tolerability of the Hendra virus monoclonal antibody m102.4.

“Basically, we want to find out how the antibody makes people feel and whether there are any side effects.

“The trial will also determine the amount of antibody in a person’s blood at various times during the study and the effect it has on the immune system.”

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said testing the monoclonal antibody on humans would see the state move one step closer to protecting those at high risk of developing Hendra virus following contact with an infected horse.

“Right from the beginning this trial has been an excellent example of collaboration in health research,” Dr Young said.

“This trial would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of Queensland Health, the Queensland and New South Wales Intergovernmental Hendra Virus Taskforce, The University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), QPharm, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, the CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory, American Hendra virus expert Dr Chris Broder, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Henry M Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine and the Alister Rodgers Memorial Fund.”

Director of AIBN Professor Peter Gray said the trial’s journey began back in 2010 when

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer obtained a licence from the US Department of Defence, to produce the experimental antibody called m102.4.

“The m102.4 monoclonal antibody cell line was originally obtained for the purpose of producing and stockpiling the m102.4 human monoclonal antibody for human compassionate use in cases of Hendra virus exposure,” Prof. Gray said.

“Our experts at UQ’s AIBN have worked very hard to produce the m102.4 monoclonal antibody. It’s now exciting to think that, with human trials being approved in compliance with international guidelines, we are that much closer to saving infected people’s lives.”

Since 1994, there have been 52 incidents of Hendra virus in horses in Australia with 14 in NSW and 38 in Queensland. A total of 90 horses have died from the Hendra virus during this period.

To date there have been seven cases of Hendra Virus infection in humans resulting in four deaths.

All cases of human infection have occurred in Queensland.

For more information on the trial, go to www.hendrastudy.com.au

Queensland #QLD | Preparation key to safe #bushwalking this Easter

With a wet Easter on the cards for parts of Queensland, Emergency Services Minister Jo-Ann Miller has urged bushwalkers to be well prepared before heading into the great outdoors over the long weekend.

“With Easter upon us again, there will be lots of families looking for ways to keep the kids entertained – and bushwalking is a great way to stay active and have a lot of fun,” Minister Miller said.

“But whether you’re going on a short hike or an extensive trek, preparations are critical to ensuring you’re home safely in time for the Easter Bunny’s arrival.

“Items such as a first aid kit, thermal blanket, food and water supplies and appropriate sleeping equipment are essential for all bushwalkers.

“Always be prepared regardless of the distance of your bushwalk. On a longer bushwalk, or perhaps even a shorter walk on a challenging track, people need to have contingency plans and supplies in place.”

Minister Miller said even the most seasoned bushwalker could become lost or injured.

“Before you head off, make sure you let someone know where you plan to trek to – as well as a rough time they should expect you back,” Minister Miller said.

“It’s also important to ensure you’re wearing proper footwear and to pack additional, warm clothing in case the weather changes.

“We know Queensland’s weather can be unpredictable – and at this stage, it looks like it could rain over much of the Easter break in some parts of Queensland. So please make sure you’re staying up-to-date with the latest forecast.

“While it may disappoint the kids, you may have to postpone or cancel your planned hike – carrying on in heavy rain can be very dangerous and a recipe for disaster.”

SES Acting Assistant Commissioner Peter Jeffrey stressed the importance of purchasing an Emergency Position Indicating Response Beacon (EPIRB) to ensure bushwalkers could be located in the event of an emergency.

“An EPIRB is an essential safety item if you’re heading out of populated areas. If you run into difficulty you can activate the EPIRB and it will notify the search and rescue coordination centre in Canberra, which will then notify the appropriate authorities.

“If you don’t have an EPIRB and you find yourself lost and in need of help, use whatever means you have to alert rescuers,” he said.

“Whether that’s flashing your camera or holding up the illuminated screen of your mobile phone, any light source will help attract the attention of rescue helicopter crews.”


Queensland | TC Nathan update as of 09:30 Friday 20 Mar

  • QFES personnel are beginning response activities this morning, with the focus on clearing roads to access communities and conducting damage assessments.
  • A total of 190 QFES and Public Safety Business Agency (PSBA) staff and volunteers are currently deployed in the Far Northern Region, including 29 SES volunteers, 20 Rural Fire Service Queensland (RFSQ) volunteers and 127 firefighters, air operations and USAR personnel.
  • A QFES Regional Operation Centre is operational in Cairns, as well as Incident Control Centres at Port Douglas and Cooktown, to assist communities affected by the cyclone.
  • There have been approximately 30 requests for SES assistance since the beginning of the event. The majority of requests have been for sandbagging.
  • There is likely to be a number of hazards including fallen trees, power lines, debris and even possible structural damage, making it is vital people do not explore or go sightseeing once it is safe to leave their homes.
  • Queenslanders are reminded: if it’s flooded, forget it.
  • For emergency storm and flood response, residents can call the SES on 132 500 or lodge a request via www.132500.qld.gov.au or by downloading the SES Assistance App which is available for iPhone and Android devices; and
  • In a life threatening emergency, always call Triple Zero (000).

Queensland | Firies on the edge of the map

Channel country stretches out as far as the eye can see; the landscape dotted with small trees and spinifex grass, eventually mixing into the blue sky, the road fades away, swallowed by a shimmering mirage.

Here, about 1,000km west of Brisbane, the volunteers of the Yowah Rural Fire Brigade are ready for the call.

“Out here we respond to anything; from bushfires, house fires, road accidents to assisting with Royal Flying Doctor medical evacuations or general rescues,” said Yowah Fire Warden and Rural Fire Brigade Third Officer Scott Shorten.

“As we are an isolated town, we have to rely on ourselves. The nearest backup help is a minimum two hours’ drive away.”

Eighteen members strong, the Yowah Rural Fire Brigade is made up of locals from all walks of life; from retirees to shop owners, council workers to school groundsmen and of course, resident opal miners.

“We train locally; the training officers from Roma make visits to upgrade our training on a fairly regular basis,” Scott said.

“At the end of this month, the crew will be training with the Royal Flying Doctors night landing practice. This is when we have to keep all the animals like kangaroos, pigs etcetera off the strip.

“The pilots have to practice landing with just car headlights to light up the end of the airstrip or landing only using some of the landing lights and any other things their instructors can throw at them. It can get a bit intense at times.”

“Out here the best thing about volunteering is that you just never know what you will be called out to so it is never boring.”