By Staff Writer
The Beaconsfield Mine collapse took the West Tamar council by complete surprise and having an emergency management plan in place was key to the council’s ability to respond to the disaster.
That was the message of West Tamar mayor Barry Easther, who gave some insight to delegates at the Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA) 2007 National Congress in Hobart, about how the massive rescue effort and community recovery program was managed.
Cr Easther said it is essential for local governments to have emergency management plans in place and that West Tamar Council had adopted an Emergency Management Plan as well as Community Recovery Plan, just six months prior to the disaster.
“Disasters like Beaconsfield are the last thing councils expect, yet they do happen and as local government leaders we need to be ready to respond to a range of subsequent challenges,” Cr Easther said.
Council had played an important role in the community recovery process says Cr Easther, by providing support to the mine and its employees, their families and the wider community as well as managing the media.
“As the rockfall and rescue effort had such a profound impact on the community, there was an expectation for me to provide ongoing leadership at all times throughout the rescue operation,” he said.
He said he progressively realised throughout the ordeal how vital it was for councils to work with their local communities and foster strong relationships with their residents.
“Working together, our community survived the roller coaster ride of emotions and a barrage of media in the town and managed to gain something positive out of what was an extremely overwhelming experience for the entire municipality.”
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