Jacob Riley, a Senior Advisor of Readiness and Intelligence with the Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES), visited START headquarters last month to give a lecture on careers within the organization and to explain the importance of community safety programs and why they are necessary for the growth and development of society.
The presentation focused on how VICSES communicates in emergency situations. VICSES operates in Victoria, one of the six states in southern Australia, and has the responsibility to establish proper communication and assistance in emergencies such as flooding, earthquakes or road crashes. The organization’s main goal is to get community members to move from not knowing or not caring how to respond to an emergency, to viewing emergency preparedness as a simple and necessary practice.
There are six emergency management priorities upheld by VICSES, the most important being the preservation of citizen safety. Other priorities include information management – properly selecting the right information and channel to share with the community before, during and after an emergency – and infrastructure preservation of surrounding energy grids and water supplies.
In 2011 and 2012, major flooding triggered an increase in government funding to community assistance organizations like VICSES to better respond to natural disaster emergencies. Like acts of terror, natural disasters can happen at any time, and can have detrimental outcomes for communities. As Riley explained, a landslide can make roads impassable, destroying an economy that depends on tourist traffic to operate.
“It’s unfortunate that it takes a major disaster to drive change or drive [government] funding,” Riley said. “But this is where VICSES comes in.”
VICSES works closely with a wide range of health and safety departments and risk communication teams to best manage community threats. The organization’s current focus is on building community resilience, as a stronger community helps its citizens be better prepared throughout an emergency.
“VICSES exists so people can survive, adapt and thrive in the face of challenges,” Riley said.