Long running issue

It speaks volumes about the effectiveness of an organisation’s communication procedures when politicians have to step in and organise a public meeting in order to bring an issue to a head.
But hopefully Opposition spokesman for emergency services Duncan McFetridge and local Hills MP Mark Goldsworthy can bring about something positive from such a meeting and break the impasse between State Emergency Service (SES)  management and the striking Onkaparinga SES Unit over triaging and response times for trees across minor roads and potential house flooding.
These are issues that have been simmering for years and, despite the finger pointing and the threats against speaking out, the concerns expressed are not isolated to the central Hills.
Allegations of unnecessary delays stretch across the Hills and into the Strathalbyn and Fleurieu region.
SES management says the Onkaparinga unit “just doesn’t get it” and the unit says the same of those in charge.
What the public doesn’t get is why a fallen tree limb can block a lane of a busy feeder road in Stirling, not far from the Stirling CFS, and the first response is to send an SES unit based at Coromandel Valley to clean it up.
Someone has taken their eye off the ball, and if they haven’t, the reasons why have not been adequately articulated by management to the volunteers, or the public.
The public has an expectation that their emergency services will operate effectively.
Volunteers, from all units and services, do their best to meet that expectation – for no financial reward and often in trying conditions.
This internal stand-off at Onkaparinga should not be seen as a slur on the SES volunteers across the State who worked tirelessly during the storm last week.
Nor should it be seen as an issue isolated to a small group of troublemakers.
Many of the 40 plus Onkaparinga volunteers who recently sent a letter outlining their concerns to Emergency Services Minister Peter Malinauskas have 30 to 50 years of experience in the SES.
They think this triaging problem poses a risk to their community and they want it sorted out and that’s not an unreasonable request.