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Department of Primary Industries:
Celebration Of Communications And Community Information

Representatives of the Gippsland teams involved in Community Information, Media and Communications during the Bogong Fire celebrated their achievements at a dinner in Sale on Wednesday March 26.

By Department of Primary Industries - 31st March 2003 - Back to News

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Representatives of the Gippsland teams involved in Community Information, Media and Communications during the Bogong Fire celebrated their achievements at a dinner in Sale on Wednesday March 26.

Information teams from DPI/DSE, Parks Victoria, the CFA and Regional ABC Radio were finally able to put faces to the voices we had all heard so much of during the campaign, on the phone and on the radio.

These were the voices that kept the information flowing to communities under threat of fire and to those who wanted to know more about the situation and how it might impact on them. From the Incident Controllers, through the Information Officer teams, via the Media Officer, to the ABC, the Fire Information hotline, and other media, everyone concerned was given accurate, consistent, timely and vital information about the fire situation on a regular basis.

The teams involved deserve enormous credit for their dedication and commitment, their terrific teamwork and their ability to get the right messages to the right people at the right time, under varying degrees of pressure.

Acting Regional Manager DPI/DSE, Neville Penrose acknowledged particularly ABC Regional Radio and staff for their magnificent effort in getting behind our rural communities and keeping them informed about the fires.

"This wasn’t just information, it was damn good radio," he said. "If anyone doubted the significance of regional radio before, they certainly wouldn’t now."

"The 1800 number, the community meetings, the phone trees all played a significant role in what was achieved. It really has set a benchmark for the way we deal with these sort of issues in the future."

Regional Fire Manager David Tainsh spoke about the multi-agency agreement and the cooperation between the Department and the CFA.

"After the ’83 fires and the Linton Inquiry, we had to start working more closely together; those issues tested both organisations and brought things to a head," Mr Tainsh said.

"I’m proud that Gippsland teams have worked so well together, using our version of the Multi-Agency agreement, sharing equipment and resources, talking regularly and putting the document into action."

"It was a truly joint exercise where we shared information, concentrated on integrating our cultures and got the messages out there. The information fed into the ABC was just fantastic and meant that we did our best to prepare the communities as much as we could under extremely difficult circumstances."

Ian Symons, Area Manager for the CFA in Gippsland said that one of the real positives is that this time we got close to getting the community information right.

"The information to the communities went from preparing for fire, to dealing with fire, to recovering in the aftermath," Mr Symons said.

Ian also endorsed the way the two agencies worked together without tensions, showing the true value of the pre-fire season workshops held in the region.

He congratulated the ABC on their work and huge contribution to the communications effort during the fire.

"From here on, if we don’t use the ABC, we’ll be hauled over the coals by the community!" he said. "Thank you for your contribution, you’re part of the success of this campaign."

Mark de Bono, ABC journalist praised the Department and CFA Information and Media staff for their efforts in getting information to the ABC quickly and clearly.

"The real issue with us as the media is the personal relationships we now have with you. It’s gone beyond the formal and has developed into mutual trust and recognition of each other’s roles," Mr de Bono said.

"We valued the fact that whatever you gave us, we recognised as being current and relevant at the time of going to air. The focus was in the right place because the situation was so serious and you could trust us to put your message across."

The ABC Regional Radio team were presented with a framed photo of Omeo under ember attack at the height of the fire, in recognition of their outstanding contribution to community information during the Bogong fire.


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