CFS and Bushfire Season
Mr DULUK (Waite) (15:38): Today, I rise to talk about the Country Fire Service and the vital role that it plays in keeping our community safe, especially during the bushfire season. In recent days, we have been dealt a timely reminder of just how dangerous bushfires can be, with fires all across the eastern seaboard, as well as here in South Australia, especially in Port Lincoln. I would like to echo the comments made by the CFS and remind everyone how important it is to be bushfire ready and of the steps that we can all take to ensure the safety of our families and our community.
In my own electorate of Waite, we are fortunate to have the fantastic team of volunteers from the Sturt CFS group keeping us safe this bushfire season. Members of the Sturt group stop what they are doing and give up their own time to assist others, day after day, week after week, year after year. The Sturt group recently sent a contingent to New South Wales and Queensland to help fight the bushfires over there. I understand, unless I am corrected by the Minister for Emergency Services, that over 200 South Australians have gone to the Eastern States to assist in that most important task, and that is obviously to fight the fires over there. A contingent from Belair and Eden Hills stations from my Sturt group have recently been in Port Lincoln as well helping the community of the member for Flinders.
Under the leadership of group captain Dale Thompson, the Sturt CFS group have been vocal advocates for bushfire safety and how families can prepare to ensure that their properties are safe as possible this bushfire season. This week Sturt CFS group posted an important reminder on its Facebook page that I would like to share here today. It says:
We are incredibly fortunate in my community to have avoided a major bushfire since the 1950s. We were unaffected by the devastation of Ash Wednesday in 1983 while many other areas were not so lucky.
This has led to many residents thinking our area is not a major risk, but this is not the case—our area has plenty of fuel that would ignite in the event of a fire, and a fire will eventually happen.
The Sturt CFS group is urging residents to clean up their properties to mitigate the risk of a fire.
It's everyone's responsibility to make sure their property is not a fire risk, and failure to properly clean up may put others in danger [and indeed the whole community].
Taking the time to clean up your property is a small price to pay for the safety of your family and neighbours, and if you are unable or unwilling to clean up, there are plenty of people who can be hired to do it for you.
I urge residents in my community to heed the advice of the CFS. The CFS also has a simple survival plan and a nine-step program for surviving a bushfire. These include having a five-minute bushfire plan; talking to your family, neighbours and friends about that plan; having flexibility in your plan; clearing around your property; having an emergency kit ready; knowing when to leave and where to go; listening to the weather and knowing when total fire bans are; subscribing to the CFS warning emails; and checking the radio, website, social media and news updates.
Increasing bushfire safety awareness is important and now more so than ever. As a recent CFS survey found, more than 40 per cent of young people were not bushfire ready, and just 16 per cent of 18 and 19 year olds were adequately prepared for a bushfire. Research conducted by the University of South Australia also found that 55 per cent of people living in bushfire danger zones would choose to wait and see instead of evacuating in the event of a bushfire.
The advice that my community constantly receives from the government and the advice that the CFS provides to South Australia is to leave and leave early in the event of a bushfire, and in those catastrophic fire days as well be on high alert and be prepared. More importantly, to do the right thing for yourself and for the community you live in because we just cannot rely on the CFS to be bushfire prepared. We need to be bushfire prepared as well.
The Marshall Liberal government takes bushfire safety very seriously, and of course we respect our CFS. This has been reflected in some of the recent funding announcements we have allocated to emergency services, including $5 million for the CFS project Renew, and provided a further $9.2 million to increase our state's aerial firefighting fleet.
More importantly, locally, on 23 November I once again will be hosting my CFS fundraising barbecue at Coles, Blackwood, together with my colleague the federal member for Boothby, Nicolle Flint, and the member for Davenport, Steve Murray, to raise funds for our local CFS group. I encourage everyone to come down, buy a snag, have a chat to the CFS and support a great community and a great organisation.