'Obvious risk' prompts $90k for new SES controller

Cheryl Bromage said the council would assist in the appointment of the new SES local controller.
Cheryl Bromage said the council would assist in the appointment of the new SES local controller. Claudia Baxter

A FULL-time State Emergency Service controller will be employed to boost the Ipswich region's response to natural disasters.

Up to $90,000 each year will be provided by the council for the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services to appoint the local SES controller.

Previously, the Ipswich City Council's Emergency Management principal officer was dually appointed as the SES controller.

Infrastructure and Emergency Management Committee chairperson Cheryl Bromage said the arrangement had "the potential to lead to conflict”.

"It was quite a difficult situation to be in,” she said.

An internal audit assessed the matter, including what happened at other councils, and found the appointment of a person who was not a council employee to undertake the role of SES local controller had "significant merit”.

The role of the council's Emergency Management principal officer during an emergency event is to assist the council to discharge its obligations according to the Disaster Management Act 2003.

"At the same time however the local controller is expected to manage and coordinate all SES response for the City of Ipswich,” Cr Bromage added.

"The dual appointment presents an obvious risk when responding to emergency events.”

The audit found potential conflicts in dealing with the media during a disaster, following respective but different codes of conduct, and any subsequent investigation arising from an alleged breach.

Cr Bromage said the council would assist in the appointment of the new SES local controller and have a close relationship during any major incidents.

"I think its better for the SES personnel and that person, in particular, it was very hard on the person who had to wear two hats,” she said.

"Now there's that clearly defined role.”

Cr Bromage said it was vital appropriate funding was allocated for a full-time controller.

"(The) council invests significant capital and operating expenditure into the Ipswich City SES Unit to support the community following disaster events and in recognition of the vital activities that SES volunteers undertake,” she said.

"To ensure that the council's resources are appropriately safeguarded and the community has access to a capable and supported voluntary emergency service, it would not be feasible for an individual to undertake this in a purely honorary capacity.”

The annual funding will allow the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services to have the SES local controller in a full-time role.  

Cr Bromage encouraged people to show respect to the dedicated orange army, who "do such a fantastic job”.

"I want to remind people they are volunteers, they give their time away from their family and homes to help others,” she said.

Topics:  ipswich natural disaster queensland fire and emergency services state emergency service

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