Building Partnerships

  Comment Banner Image Aug 2009
 

Our sector is about building safer communities. We continue to forge alliances and collaborative partnerships with government, non-government and not-for-profit agencies to ensure that the safety of the community is maintained, minimising the risk of loss to life, property and the environment, not only on the land but also in the vast oceans and other waterways.

 

Volunteers join the fight to raise community awareness

 
In less than nine months of operation, South Australia's Community Floodsafe Program has enlisted and trained an enthusiastic team of 33 volunteers who are carrying out community education events throughout the southern metropolitan area.

The CFS recently decided to implement a similar approach, bringing together a team of volunteers to help spread the word about bushfire safety.

The FloodSafe program, funded through an Emergency Management Australia (EMA) grant, is a pilot program designed to introduce community education and awareness to residents in flood-prone suburbs of Adelaide.
Mitcham FloodSafe crew

In the last four months alone the FloodSafe volunteer crews have participated in over 80 community events, including street corner meetings, school visits and sporting events.

The program looks to utilise existing volunteers, and attract new volunteers, to help with specialist community education volunteer work, as opposed to the traditional rescue role. Volunteers are provided with specialist training in the areas of communication and presentation skills and how to handle multicultural and communication issues, to become 'community presenters'. FloodSafe volunteers are divided into 'crews' and allocated a flood-prone council area.

FloodSafe Project Officer, Judith Bleechmore says, "The program provides existing volunteers with an alternative to the traditional operational role. It allows those with a passion for community education and safety to make use of their interpersonal skills while also adding to their operational knowledge of floods."

The project has also attracted new volunteers to the SES, who have a background in nursing, teaching and project management, and are interested in helping to educate their local communities to be aware of and prepare for flooding.

"These new volunteers are not trained in emergency response but are well suited to be FloodSafe 'community presenters' as they have good communication and public speaking skills," says Judith.

The success of the program has seen all six southern metropolitan councils involved in the first year of FloodSafe (2008-09) extending their partnerships and a number of other councils will join the program in coming months.

Planning is underway for tailored flood education programs to be offered in Mallala, Barossa, Gawler, Port Adelaide Enfield, Charles Sturt and Onkaparinga in coming months.

bushfire ready logo - medium The concept of volunteers delivering community awareness messages has also been implemented by the CFS, through an EMA-funded pilot bushfire education program, Volunteers in Community Education (VOICE).

Similar to FloodSafe, the VOICE program aims to develop the capacity of volunteers to provide a high quality bushfire education and awareness program to the South Australian community. Twenty-three CFS volunteers from across the state recently signed up to be VOICE participants and took part in a two-day training workshop.

CFS Community Education and Public Warnings Manager Fiona Dunstan said, "Our communities can never be too prepared, and CFS volunteers are ideally placed to help arm home owners with all the necessary tools and information to make safe decisions in the event of a fire.

"This is a new and exciting pilot program that will train our CFS volunteers to help create a bushfire ready community through the delivery of clear safety and awareness messages."

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