Failures in flood warning system hurts regional communities

The parliamentary inquiry into last year’s flood event has uncovered significant shortcomings in Victoria’s Emergency Management warning system under the Labor Government.

Evidence provided to the hearings this week highlighted how poorly informed and exposed regional communities were during emergency flood events.

The Environment and Planning Committee, which grilled key figures in the flood controversy, was informed that the Vic Emergency App had been plagued with inaccuracies.

It also heard that emergency alerts were not issued to many residents whose homes subsequently experienced flooding, and there was a lack of regular updates on the app, especially in regard to road closures which kept residents in the dark about potential dangers.

Leader of The Nationals, Peter Walsh, said this significant failure continues to demonstrate the Labor Government’s incompetence.

“Regional communities experiencing flood have consistently said how they were left confused or with a false sense of safety by unreliable and often shambolic messaging issued by the VicEmergency App,” Mr Walsh said.

“The inquiry discovered that local knowledge about past floods was disregarded, and messages were frequently disorganised or failed to reach those in jeopardy.”

Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath, a member of the inquiry committee, said the Labor Government has learned nothing between the 2021 Latrobe Valley floods and the 2022 northern Victoria floods.

“Government agencies spruik ‘continuous improvement’ of the warning system but clearly that is not the lived experience of flood affected victims,” Ms Bath said.

During a recent public hearing in Rochester resident Leigh Wilson responded to Ms Bath saying, “zero is the confidence the community has that if we were to experience another event in the near future, there would be any change to this response.”

The inquiry highlighted a momentous disconnect between the Labor Government’s flood response claims and the lived experience of regional communities during a flood.