An intergovernmental tour and workshop was conducted on Russell Island in mid September to review the 2017 bush fire responses.
Participants in the review included Cr Mark Edwards, Redland City Council CEO Andrew Chesterman officers from Council’s Disaster Planning and Operations, Environment and Regulation, Internal Audit, Parks and Conservation, Conservation Fire Management, and Council’s Community Engagement Officer.
Also in attendance from the State Government were Tim Fell, Director Office of the Director General, Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning. Also the superintendent and senior officers from Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.
There were also representatives from the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services. There were also a representative from Optus as well as representatives from the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation, and the Rural Fire Service. Unable to attend, but previously briefed, were representatives from Telstra and The Department of Communications and the Arts.
The day commenced with a short meeting at 7:45am at council in Cleveland and a bus trip to Weinam Creek and a barge to Russell Island.
This was organised to physically demonstrate the time issues in deploying to the islands in time of emergency and the three hour trip clearly showed that the islands are geographically close to the mainland; yet have similarities to remote locations.
Once at Russell Island, a meeting was held in the hall before a lengthy bus trip around the island.
The bus trip explained the nature of the fires; the diversity and location of housing, access points, communication difficulties. and the unique challenges faced by the island community.
After the bus trip, a debrief was held back at the hall.
Council has implemented or is implementing most of the strategic recommendations from the recent fire report, however, the remaining recommendations require action and input from higher levels of government.
Redland City Council is seeking a long term "buy in" from State and Federal agencies to consider a holistic partnership to build better resilience and capacity within the islands communities.
The Russell Island workshop was the first step of a long journey to have better partnerships with multi levels of government agencies, council and the community.
Cr Edwards said he was ‘hopeful’ of further positive outcomes for the islands as a result of the visit and the workshop.
• The workshop held at the Russell Island Recreation Hall.