In Australia the operation of emergency and rescue agencies is usually in the hands of a state rescue agency or authority. For example, in NSW the State Rescue Board (SRB) accredits organisations to provide rescue services, in Queensland the Department of Emergency Services is responsible for emergency organisations, and in Victoria the Department of Justice holds responsibility. In the past CB monitoring groups claimed superiority to other groups because they are accredited or recognised by these agencies, however in reality any such accreditation has absolutely nothing to do with the monitoring of CB emergency channels.
ACREM has long believed that in any major emergency our primary concern should remain the provision of monitoring services on the CB emergency channels, to receive calls from the community and also to broadcast information to the community when necessary. As this activity does not require any form of accreditation or registration with any state emergency management agency ACREM feels that pursuing such an accreditation would only serve to take resources away from this task in order to provide personnel to other services during any incident. We have however strongly petitioned the Federal Government, through Emergency Management Australia, to formerly recognise and possibly accredit CB monitoring groups specifically for that purpose rather than for providing a service that ACREM was not organised to provide in the first place.
ACREM is recognised by the emergency services, as the valuable community service that it is. What ACREM, and many other CB monitoring groups, is not is accredited to provide personnel to fulfill roles other than the provision of a CB monitoring service. Having said that however it should also be remembered that in any major incident there is no need for a support group such as ACREM to be accredited in order to be utilised by the emergency services should the need arise. Any group or person may be asked to assist in a support role if the need arises, and ACREM members are already in a position to provide support through our CB monitoring network without the need for any additional accreditation or recognition.
New South Wales
In NSW the organisation known as CREST claims to be accredited by the State Rescue Board to provide “specialist communications support to the emergency services”. However the NSW State Rescue Policy states:
1.37 Support Units are those units that provide support services to rescue units. Support Units include, but are not limited to, communications groups, aerial observation patrols, canine search and rescue groups and helicopter units.
1.38 Support Units do not require accreditation and members are not authorised to participate in the conduct of rescue operations without the consent of the Police Officer in charge of the rescue operation. This does not preclude activation by another authority for operations within that authorities jurisdiction e.g. AUSSAR. [emphasis added]
ACREM stands ready to assist the NSW emergency services should the need arise, and this will not interfere with our primary role. In a letter dated 30 January 2008, NSW Police Assistant Commissioner C J Burn stated “In accordance with the State Rescue Policy, the NSW Police Force has authority ‘to call out any resource whether accredited or not to undertake a rescue or assist in a rescue.’ ”
The one thing we would like to make clear relates to the misleading claim that “All emergency services in NSW must now be accredited” being made by some misguided individuals and groups. In NSW, as in other states of Australia, the only groups that must be accredited are rescue services. From the NSW State Rescue Board website http://www.emergency.nsw.gov.au/
Principle Function of the Board: The principal function of the Board is to ensure the maintenance of efficient and effective rescue services throughout the State.
Particular Duties of the Board:the SRB is required to: ….make recommendations to the Minister on the accreditation of rescue units (both permanent and volunteer) for participation in rescue operations.
As in NSW, in Queensland the relevant emergency management agency does not have any control over the monitoring of CB frequencies, nor do they accredit or train CB emergency monitoring organisations.
Tim Holding MP, Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services, has confirmed the same situation exists in Victoria. In brief, the Minister advises that “The monitoring of CB emergency channels is not under the control or jurisdiction of the Bureau of Emergency Services Telecommunications (BEST) or any other emergency management agency in Victoria.”