Lessons Learned from storm event

1. Overview

On Saturday 16 July, Emergency Management Victoria visited Olinda and Montrose to provide feedback on the lessons learned following the June 2021 storm. The full report can be found on the EMV website or you can download a Word version of the report as well.

Here's a video of the event that was held in Olinda:


Following the June storm, you, our community, asked for some information on what lessons Council had learned from the emergency. 

Three sessions were held with the community at Mt Evelyn, Mt Dandenong and Monbulk in late May where Council shared the lessons we have learned and how we are improving for future emergencies.

For those that were unable to attend here is a video of the event:

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Further information on the Lessons Learned, can be found in the Lessons Learned Summary(PDF, 6MB) or in this Word document Lessons Learned Summary.docx(DOCX, 15KB).

2. Your feedback

During the three Lessons Learned information sessions held in Mt Evelyn, Monbulk and Mt Dandenong, important information was shared between the community and Council about how the storm in June 2021 was managed and how we can be more resilient into the future.

Some local community groups expressed an interest in being involved in assisting the community during emergencies and further discussions will be had with those groups going forward.

Many community groups are already involved with emergency management across Yarra Ranges.

Any other community groups who are interested in being involved in supporting the community locally during any future emergencies can contact Council's Community Emergency Resilience Officer by emailing emergencymanagement@yarraranges.vic.gov.au. 

Here are the key themes from the three information sessions:

What is being done about power and telecoms outages?

The loss of power and telecoms for protracted lengths of time was a key feature of discussion in the Lessons Learned sessions.

Council does not provide power and telecoms to residents, however we advocate about the much needed improvements to other levels of government and service providers.

Here is detailed information about what Council is doing on residents' behalf in relation to power and telecoms: Telecommunications Yarra Ranges Council.




Accessible information

A number of people raised concerns about how information was distributed during the emergency and the potential to use noticeboards and flyers. Some residents also raised the option of using local radio stations or CB radios. 

Residents have requested one source of information from all services to reduce where people need to go to find out what is happening during an emergency.

What Council did - Newsletters were distributed to Shower and Power hubs, community hubs and some shops and chemists. The Strom Recovery Newsletter continues to be produced and emailed to residents who are interested. You can still sign up to this newsletter. Council shared information from a variety of sources during the storm on Council's Facebook page and in the newsletter. 

Emergency Management Victoria has also undertaken a review of the management of the June 2021 storm. This review is anticipated to be made public shortly and will include information on communication.

As part of Council's review, traditional forms of communication including noticeboards, radio and suggestions in relation to how to communicate with no power and telecoms will be examined.


How many people were impacted by the storm?

Many people across the municipality were impacted by the June 2021, whether they had trees fall on their property or gardens or have loved ones or friends who were badly impacted.

Council's news item on the anniversary has more information about the impacts following the June 2021 storm. 

Who does what in an emergency?

It was raised that people often don't know what level of government does what when it comes to an emergency.

Federal Government supports a state or territory, where the emergency response overwhelms their resources and arrangements and Australian Government assistance has been requested.

State and territory governments establish plans and arrangements for most of the functions essential for effective emergency management (prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery) and in the interests of community safety and wellbeing. For example, maintaining agencies that provide emergency services to the community (e.g. police, fire, ambulance, emergency, health and medical services).

Local government play many roles in an emergency, with relief and recovery being a large focus (providing Emergency Relief Centres, ongoing recovery programs etc).

You can find detailed information on emergency management on Council's Emergency Management section on the website or have a look at Council's Municipal Emergency Plan.



Utilise other buildings and community groups during emergencies

Residents asked if Neighbourhood Houses and Fire Refuges be used during emergencies. It was also pointed out that Council properties need to be more robust to deal with emergencies.

As part of Council's review, a variety of properties will be examined to see if they meet the criteria required to operate during an emergency.

Council has a number of relief centres that are made operational during an emergency. There are also Fire Refuges and Neighbourhood Safer Places

Recent funding has been provided to Council to install generator hook-ups and satellites on selected Council properties to enable a level of functionality during an emergency when power and telecoms has been impacted.

Snap Send Solve app during emergencies

Council should be able to use Snap Send Solve during an emergency so residents can register trees that have fallen through the app.

The Snap Send Solve app does not link to Council's current systems which means that any request made through the app needs to be entered manually during office hours. 

In an emergency it is best to contact Council on 1300 333 368 as is also operated out of business hours.


3. Who does what in an emergency?

Emergencies include anything from bushfires, severe storms, heatwaves, pandemic outbreaks, major transport accidents and siege or terror attacks.

Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) is the leading emergency management agency in Victoria.

They work with communities, government, agencies and businesses to strengthen their capacity to withstand, plan for, respond to and recover from emergencies.

Emergencies are given a classification and a government agency becomes the lead. Most of the time this is an emergency services such as SES, CFA and Victoria Police.

Council is not an emergency responder. Council provides a supporting role to the emergency agencies during an incident – this is usually in the form of providing resources such as machinery, or the use of buildings and sharing public information.

Detailed information about the roles of various authorities can be found in the Emergency Management Act 2013 and the Victorian State Emergency Management Plan (SEMP).

4. What does Council do in an emergency?

There are many things that Council does in an emergency, however our main role is to provide residents with a place to go for a variety of supports, often in the form of an Emergency Relief Centre.

We co-ordinate this work locally, with communities, as best we can and also in conjunction with various other Government agencies, Red Cross, community organisations and groups.

Relief support includes:

  • Shelter
  • Food and water
  • Some material items
  • Ability to reconnect with friends and family
  • Assist with temporary accommodation
  • Psychological first aid

Council staff are only allowed to enter into an area where there has been an emergency with the authorisation from the agency leading the event.

Council can lead community engagement sessions however this must be done in conjunction and with the approval of the leading agency.

5. Recovery: Community-led recovery and resilience

Research following various emergency events in Australia over the past 15 years or so has seen a community desire to be more involved with emergency management, response, resilience and recovery.

Yarra Ranges Council is working with the community through various ways to build future resilience and to recover from the June storm and pandemic.

Regional Community Recovery Committees

Four Regional Community Recovery Committees (RCRCs) supported by Yarra Ranges Council have been established to help contribute to the recovery priorities of their community.

They will have a crucial say in the long-term recovery from Covid-19 and the June storms that impacted the Yarra Ranges.

The four RCRCs are separated into the Hills, Urban, Valley and Upper Yarra with each committee consisting of community volunteers, a Councillor and a representative from Bendigo Community Bank.

Resilient Yarra Ranges

Council has recently been awarded $10 million from the Commonwealth Government to implement our Resilient Yarra Ranges Project.

The funds will be spent on the following projects:

Place based resilience planning – Will bring communities, local businesses, support organisations and agencies together from Monbulk, Healesville, Yarra Junction and their surrounds to benchmark and strengthen resilience.

Resilient energy precinct – A joint venture with Monash University and Council to assess the feasibility for a resilient microgrid across essential buildings in Monbulk.

Resilient buildings – Multiple Council community buildings that serve as emergency relief centres will be upgraded with a generator plug-in point and/or solar power capabilities.

Tree management and clean-up – Funding requested to complete clean-up in Council open spaces and bushlands from the 2021 storm, as well as delivering a proactive tree management program in high-risk areas.

Changing places facility – Provides suitable facilities for people who are unable to use standard accessible toilets at Kilsyth Sports Centre, which is also a designated emergency relief centre. This fills a need in the provision of emergency amenities for people who are unable to use standard accessible amenities.

Bushfire risk assessment – A bushfire risk assessment will be commissioned for the areas of the Dandenong Ranges impacted by the 2021 storm which will assist in the rebuilding process.

Emergency relief network – Will strengthen the role and involvement of the Yarra Ranges Emergency Relief Network to provide better coordinated support and material aid resources across Yarra Ranges.

The funding for the project is part of the Commonwealth Government’s $600 million Preparing Australian Communities Program, which is an investment over six years to build the nation’s resilience to natural disasters.

STAND Program

Ten Council facilities that are also emergency relief centres now have satellites that can be activated during and after an emergency when the broader network is down.

This means that these centres will be able to provide temporary internet connection for affected residents when the centres have been opened.

The satellites are at:

  • Coldstream Community Hall
  • Healesville Memorial Hall
  • Warburton Millgrove Sporting Complex
  • Yarra Centre, Yarra Junction
  • Yarra Glen Memorial Hall
  • Monbulk Living and Learning Centre
  • Powelltown Sporting Clubrooms
  • Karwarra Gardens
  • Olinda Recreation Reserve
  • Patch Public Hall

The following Council properties have been fitted with generator hook-ups so that they are still able to provide power to residents who attend these sites in an emergency.

  • Coldstream Community Hall
  • Healesville Memorial Hall
  • Warburton Millgrove Sporting Complex
  • Yarra Centre Pool and Stadium, Yarra Junction
  • Monbulk Community Sports Pavilion
  • Yarra Glen Memorial Hall
  • Kilsyth Sports Stadium
  • Mooroolbark Community Centre

6. You suggested - what we have done

Following the community meetings held shortly after the storm, you made several suggestions. Here is an update on those suggestions and what Council has done with them:

You suggested

What has progressed 

Establishing Community Recovery Committees  Four Regional Community Recovery Committees have been established with a focus on identifying priorities and supporting community-led recovery initiatives.
Creating a hub or other community feature that is built from fallen tree wood eg sculptures, traditional owners smoking ceremony and healing, repair damaged buildings, furniture... Trees that can be reused for community purposes have been provided to a variety of artists and community groups.
Providing free firewood and mulch available for storm affected communities Two free firewood sessions have been provided to the community and 17,000m3 of mulch was made available.
Monthly dinners hosted by the council Some community groups are undertaking this.
Plan and act regarding dangerous trees BRV/Council coordinated a program to remove dangerous trees. BRV's program is now completed.
Better power and NBN solutions\underground power Satellites at 10 emergency relief centres have been installed and generator hook-ups at 8 Council facilities. Council continues to advocate to State Government and power distributors for improved service and connectivity on behalf of residents.
An improvement to initial response times – the first five days were spent with only CFA support Emergency Management Victoria are undertaking a review of all agencies.
Information and guidance about insurance provided to the community Council hosted two information sessions with the Australian Insurance Council
A relief centre set up in the Hills region Over the next 12 months Council is reviewing Community Relief Facilities
Identification labels for residents’ cars to pass through roadblocks seamlessly  We are working with Victoria Police on this
Change-over switches on private property for generators This needs to be undertaken by a private and qualified electrician. Details available on Council’s website in relation to generators. 
Compile a book of community stories and sell that book – the proceeds would then be donated Currently being considered
Unregistered tractors be used to help with clean-up We are working with VicRoads and the Dept of Transport on this 
A review of emergency plans As part of our standard practice, Council has undertaken an internal review and Emergency Management Victoria has also conducted two reviews; community and operational
A single source of information to help oversee all the agencies and point people in the right direction Council supports response agencies during emergencies to provide emergency information, through several ways to assist everyone to access the information they need.