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Natural disaster exercise

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THURSDAY. OCTOBER 28. 1976 NO. 251/76


Amateur radio operators throughout Australia have

"gone to air" in support of a natural disasters exercise being

held today in Canberra.

The exercise, which envisages a cyclone on the coast

of Western Australia and severe bushfires in Victoria, got

underway this morning at the Headquarters of the Natural

Disasters Organisation in Canberra.

The amateur radio operators are members of the

Wireless Institute of Australia Civil Emergency Network (WICEN)

- and today they are testing their capability to support the

NDO in times of real emergency. As a separate, but related

exercise to the NDO's "Backup II" exercise, the amateur radio

operators last night activated their radio links between

Canberra and the States, particularly Victoria and Western

Australia, - the scene of the simulated disasters.

Messages received from the amateur radio operators

are being passed to the National Emergency Operations Centre

by the Federal Co-ordinator of WICEN, retired Brigadier R.K.

Roseblade, of the Canberra suburb of Campbell. The messages

are preceded by a codeword indicating that they are for

exercise purposes only.

WICEN maintains a list of amateur operators in all

parts of the country who have suitable equipment and are able

to make their time and equipment available for emergency use.

The institute's aim is to supplement or replace normal facilities

which may be overloaded or have been damaged. The State WICEN


organisations have been used extensively, notably during

bushfires and floods and cyclones. The link to the National

Emergency Operations Centre backs up the extensive communications

systems which link the NEOC with State and Territory emergency

agencies and Defence Force installations throughout Australia.

In the main exercise representatives from 17 Federal

Government Departments, Service personnel and members of the

Military Plans and Operations Staff at the Department of

Defence, have joined senior police officers from all States and

representatives of the State Emergency Service in Victoria at

the NEOC.

During the exercise, the NDO staff and volunteer teams

dealt with “requests" for assistance and co-ordinated the

Commonwealth response to meet the needs of the State authorities

in Victoria and Western Australia in coping with the "disasters".

The exercise is being directed by the Director General

of the NDO, Major-General Alan Stretton.


Further Enquiries: Mr Noel Tanswell 65 2999 (office hours) 48 0476 (after hours)