Supporting Noosa Council’s Aged Care Sector to Plan for Hazard Responses

10 June 2022

Energy and Resources National and Local Government

Impacts from climate related hazards are regular occurrences and affect many in the community. Understanding the risks associated with these hazards to people, critical assets and organisations is essential.  Important sectors such as Aged Care, have an essential role in supporting a highly vulnerable part of our community.

During the 2019 Noosa bushfires, thousands of people were evacuated from the region, including 131 patients and 24 staff from a nursing home. This severe fire danger identified the necessity for a planned response to climate related hazards.

Noosa Shire Council recognised this and engaged BMT and Resilient Projects to work with the aged care sector of the region to increase their capacity in disaster planning and business continuity. The project aims to have an engaged, resilient and disaster-prepared sector where vulnerable senior residents of Noosa are cared for adequately in the event of a disaster or emergency.

"Protecting vulnerable community members such as aged care residents is a critical component of community resilience. Noosa Council has shown a great leadership in bringing the aged care sector of the region onto one platform to enable the sharing of knowledge and ultimately paving a path for increased disaster resilience of these facilities,” commented Dr Fahim Tonmoy, Associate Principal Engineer, BMT.

As part of this project, a kick off workshop was held, with participants including aged care providers and retirement village managers in Noosa. We were able to present information about the hazards in the region, discuss our approach, and gather useful information from participants. Importantly, the participants were able to engage with each other and relevant disaster management agencies and share information and experiences.

Peter Harkin, Queensland Fire and Emergency Management Services (QFES) Disaster Management Coordinator of the region and Annette Morris from Queensland Ambulance Service discussed the role of different agencies and the complexities of evacuation of aged care facility during an unfolding natural hazard. 

Annette Morris, Officer in Charge, Sunshine Coast Local Ambulance Service Network said, “We can all make positive change during disasters by sustaining high resilience and planning, testing, and changing prior to the event.  The responsibility belongs to us all to care for our Elderly and Community during Disasters, we all need to be prepared.”

Following on from the workshop, all Aged Care and residential living providers in Noosa were invited to have a one-on-one discussion with BMT and ‘Resilient projects’, who are the partner in this project, to conduct a health check on their disaster management and business continuity planning.

The business continuity ‘health check’ found the following:

  • The majority of Aged Care and residential living providers are open to sharing knowledge to help each other build collective capacity of the sector.
  • Discussions of critical functions and business continuity plans identified opportunities for all providers to increase the depth of their planning.
  • Power and supply chains are critical for Aged Care and therefore it is important to build depth and redundancy into these functions.
  • Some providers already have plans in place with ‘sister providers’ and have called on this relationship to assist when a full site evacuation is required.
“Well done on facilitating Noosa Council’s recent Aged Care Sector workshop.  The workshop helped local aged care providers to understand disaster hazards, their risks and the importance of preparation and planning.  I look forward to seeing the benefits of your ongoing work with improved business continuity and evacuation plans”, Peter Harkin, Emergency Management Coordinator North Coast Region, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.

We are looking forward to continuing our work with this important sector and to supporting them to fine-tune their business continuity plans.

Meet the Experts

Dr Fahim Tonmoy

Associate Principal Engineer

Dr Fahim Tonmoy

Associate Principal Engineer

Fahim is a Senior Engineer specialised in risk and resilience assessment of different hazards including climate change, coastal hazards, bushfire, heatwave etc. He has 16 years of work experience which includes working in engineering projects as well as in academia conducing high quality research on climate change adaptation. Fahim completed his PhD at the University of Sydney specialising on climate change adaptation of infrastructure systems.

Throughout his career Fahim has worked with different tiers of governments, sectors (health, emergency management, transport, financial organisations) and a range of private sector businesses in assisting them understanding their climate change risks and develop plan for adaptation. Fahim is one of the main authors of Australia’s national coastal climate change adaptation tool ‘CoastAdapt’, Queensland Government's Climate Change Sector Adaptation Plans for the Emergency Management and Health sector. Fahim is also a contributing author of European Union's "Science for DRM 2020" report.

Fahim is recipient of different research awards. He is also an Adjunct Research Fellow at Griffith University and currently part of an international collaborative research project between Griffith University, University of Sydney and Bangladesh University of Engineering Technology (BUET) which is investigating health impacts of factory workers to extreme heat under climate change and developing low-cost built environment solutions.

Brianna Heeley

Consultant Scientist

Brianna Heeley

Consultant Scientist

Brianna is a Environmental Scientist in the Ecology and Environmental Management team. She has a Bachelor of Environmental Science from the University of the Sunshine Coast with a minor in Geographic Information Science.

Brianna has skills in a diverse range of environmental and management fields including GIS, research, sampling, and various field survey techniques. She has gained experience through a range of different projects covering the following topics: environmental impact assessments, climate change assessments and ecology surveys. She has field experience conducting a variety of ecological research and monitoring projects in marine, aquatic and terrestrial environments including studies on fauna, flora and ecological health. She has worked on a range of projects across Australia including local and state governments and industries (e.g. mining, ports and private development).

Dr David Rissik

Head of Capability Development and Innovation

Dr David Rissik

Head of Capability Development and Innovation

David has significant experience in climate change risk assessments and adaptation planning, coastal zone management, coastal ecology and water quality. David has contributed to the development of guidelines to support resilience and adaptation planning in a variety of sectors including the NRM sector, the investor sector and the coastal sector.

In addition to his work at BMT, David has led large projects at Griffith University (NCCARF) and for the Queensland and NSW state governments. He has been a member of several National expert groups and has experience delivering training courses and stakeholder engagement activities. David is an Adjunct Professor
at Griffith University, and is strongly involved in the Blue Economy CRC, as a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee, leading a project and participating in several others. He is a member of the Australian Ocean Energy Systems Working Group, and is active in the Australian Ocean Energy Group. David is a Non-Executive Director of Green Cross Australia which focusses on community resilience and sustainability. David is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

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