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April 26, 2016

Local Member for Sandringham Murray Thompson today called for a better local community information communication system for events that are a level below the state emergency disaster system covering fire, flood and other emergency events.

Examples include situations where there is a high E. coli reading in a local beach and swimmers would be better advised not to use that beach or a local power outage where timely advice would obviate the need for everyone in the local electricity grid affected to ring the local power company.

Both of these events have been reported in the Sandringham electorate recently and communication processes have not been appropriate.

Mr Thompson calls upon the Victorian Government to improve the emergency response communication system taking into account modern methods of communication such as social media.

The Sandringham Shopping Centre and Sandringham Village were blacked out for approximately two hours on Saturday 23rd April in the early evening. Local Police, Regional Police and the Fire Bridge were all in the dark despite advice that a local fire truck was looking for a pole fire. The central operations of the Fire Brigade however had no record of a truck on the road. The power company advised by way of good recorded message that there could be a black out for up to four hours.

All the local restaurants and take away food premises were without power and unable to guide customers.

In the words of one local trader trying to run his business “it was a total disaster and nightmare”. Unlike some emergency services with generators, most small businesses are not equipped to work in a blackout. Additionally, according to one local insurance policy, unless there has been a blackout for 48 hours there can be no claim.

The local SES did a great job in making sure no railway commuters fell over in the dark station precinct.

With the advent of community Facebook Hubs it no longer requires a tray truck with a megaphone to keep communities informed.

There should no longer be the need for 1,200 people to ring their local energy supplier when a blackout occurs to ascertain the duration of the outage.

Noting the massive cost impost on small business and significant inconvenience to local residents there is the need and opportunity to improve the distribution of basic information regarding E. coli affected beaches or power outages to affected stakeholders through social media.