Emergency Radio Broadcasting in Australia

I could only find a thread for emergency television broadcasting.

A thread to discuss emergency broadcasts on Australian radio.


A lot tend to end up in the ABC threads but it’s good to remember that whilst they often provide the most comprehensive updates they’re not the only ones doing so.

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Sounding very much like the old bombastic Triple M VO’s! Not that it’s a bad thing. It’s great that you’re providing this service.

A gorgeous part of the world, the Huon Valley- hopefully the fire is contained soon.

How often are you playing the warnings?

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The SEWS one, not too often. There is one without the SEWS that airs every 20 minutes though, so that the SEWS doesn’t become ineffective.

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Which advice had authorisation to play the SEWS signal?

The SEWS alerts aren’t airing now (except for one area) now that the fire has been downgraded. It’s only used on the emergency alert level fires.

Which area is that?

Glen Huon, Judbury and Lonnavale.

I dont see any warning that has authorised use of SEWS?

The Tasmania Fire Service’s advice to us was to use SEWS for any emergency warning level fires (which there are currently for Glen Huon, Judbury, Lonnavale, parts of the Central Highlands, and now, parts of Geeveston once again). It wouldn’t be used on any advice or watch and act fires though.

The entire emergency warning system needs an overhaul.

It’s inefdective and overplayed to the point where people don’t pay attention any more.

The declaration of an emergency warning is supposed to indicate imminent danger to people and property. Too often it sits there for days on fires that are burning in remote areas where there is limited, if any, real danger. The public know that and there’s a real chance that when a legitimate emergency comes along they’ll ignore it because previous “warnings” have been bogus.

Just take a look at Victoria where so many emergency warnings are declared around 4pm… just in time for the networks to get a chopper in the air. Once the story goes to air at 6, the fire is downgraded! Ask any TV journo in Victoria, they’ll confirm it.

Then there’s the use of “catastrophic”. What a ridiculous term… catastrophic is a devastating outcome it’s not a warning . Victoria uses “Code Red” which is about right.

The warning signal is overused too.

Have none of rheee people heard of the boy who cried wolf?

Emergency authorities and related volunteer organisations have a lot of good people in them but there are some who treat emergency warnings as a PR exercise.


Yes, I agree. The SEWS tone should be authorized separately to emergency warnings.

I’ve only run the SEWS tone on fires that actually affect homes, because they’ve issued so many emergency warnings down here for places that absolutely no one lives in (and anyone there usually won’t get any radio reception anyway, so why scare everybody else).

We’ve only used SEWS a max of once per hour, maybe twice in some situations. The rest of the time, it’s just the same message but without the tone. Otherwise, the tone just loses its effect.


I hope you got that in writing!

Here is some information from the national guidelines on SEWS usage:

On receipt of a written request to issue a warning, the media are
expected to:
• confirm the message is not a hoax by calling the number given
(if in doubt)
• begin the broadcast by playing SEWS for 15 seconds
• broadcast the Emergency Announcement verbatim

The broadcast of SEWS, followed by the Emergency Announcement,
is to be repeated twice at five minute intervals, unless requested
otherwise by the Authorising Officer. Cancellation of the Request is to
be confirmed by the Issuing Authority

Long and short I wouldnt be playing it unless you have something in writing telling you to play it!


Never used to hear the SEWS warning at all once upon a time outside cyclone season. Then about 10 years ago after the 2009 Fires and the Brisbane Floods in 2011 it just gets used everywhere. The Brisbane Floods was the first time I’d heard it used other than a cyclone. I’ve even heard on Severe Storm Warnings :roll_eyes:


I’ve only ever seen it on Severe Storm Warnings when something really major is happening.
Most recent example I can think of with the SEWS used on a Severe Storm Warning was when a tornado was observed tracking towards the Wide Bay Area in QLD. Tornadoes are often more devastating than cyclones in impacted areas, so the use of SEWS there is well and truly warranted IMO.

The SEWS was most recently requested here in Townsville on a Severe Storm Warning in 2015 from memory, this was because the storm was dumping some unbelievably heavy rainfall (over 200mm in a short period of time) right in the middle of the city, which was causing some major flash flooding. Again, warranted IMO.

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It’s called risk minimisation or risk aversion.

Authorities don’t want to be accused of not warning the public, so they over warn so no one can ever say they weren’t told.

As far as I can recall, and happy to be corrected, this risk aversion thing began after the first Bali bimbing when DFAT was accused of hearing rumours of an attack and not telling the public.

The truth is there are always rumours and it can be counter productive to make everything public. Have you ever noticed on Smart Traveller how it’s not 100% safe to visit anywhere?


SEWS getting regular use on radio in Townsville this afternoon.

Ross River has exceeded all previous records and expected to inundate homes in the city suburbs.

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ABC North Queensland are airing updates during the cricket, while Hit103.1 and Triple M are currently live and local

Power 100 and Star 106.3 have been live all day, including in the morning shift which for Star 106.3 is usually voicetracked from Mackay.

EDIT: 630 ABC have dumped the cricket, though it made a reappearance around the start of the 1400 AEST news

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But is Ayr ok? MediaSpy needs to know, that Burdekin floods well.

@NQCQTV2 @AustralianAerial, what do the community licensees in the region do to cover the situation if anything?

ABC Melb ran an update on the Greendale fire at midday, the announcer suggested moving out to a safer place with the suggestion of family or go shopping in Melbourne for the day. Amusing

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