The Dwellingup fire in 2007 proved just how important it was for communities to be prepared for extreme disasters, Emergency Services Minister John Kobelke said today.
Speaking at the Local Government Emergency Management Conference in Bunbury, Mr Kobelke discussed the need to build community resilience, particularly in an unpredictable environment.
The fire that ripped through Dwellingup destroyed 14 homes and damaged three, with power, water and telephone communications all being disrupted by the fire.
The response and follow-up relief effort for the incident, which was declared a natural disaster, required significant co-ordination by emergency services personnel and local governments.
Mr Kobelke said the support from local governments during and after the fire was substantial, with many shires providing volunteers, resources and financial assistance.
“Many local governments sent money directly to the Shire of Murray or donated to the Lord Mayor’s Dwellingup Fires Appeal,” he said.
“A total of 14 shires from the South-West, in addition to other shires from neighbouring regions, provided a large number of volunteers and resources; their generosity and co-operation was exceptional and they played an important role in the relief effort.”
The Minister said local governments were now looking to the future of emergency management.
“Local governments are continuing to turn their attention to long-term planning to help prepare WA communities for extreme disasters that could impact them,” he said.
“Emergency preparedness is vital, particularly in such a vast State with so many regional centres that face the real threat of cyclones, tsunamis, floods and bush fires.
“It’s so important for communities to know what they can do for themselves in the face of a large scale emergency.
“Ultimately, the community will fare much better and recover much faster if they are ready and aware of what actions to take when disaster knocks on their door.
“This conference is a great opportunity for local governments and emergency services to gain knowledge to help their local community better prepare for and respond to disasters.
“Not only will the community be better off, our career and volunteer emergency services personnel who put their lives on the line to protect us will benefit too.”
Minister's office: 9222 9211