Emergency Aus app alerts Bendigo residents to shark sighting


The last thing Peter Williams was expecting when it was 38.2 degrees in central Victoria was to be warned about a shark sighting. 

The Jackass Flat resident had set a 20 kilometre radius for the alerts issued by the Emergency AUS app. 

In the midst of the weekend’s heatwave, advice about a ‘dangerous animal’ popped up on his phone. 

“This advice is being issued for Aireys Inlet, Big Hill, Eastern View, Fairhaven, Lorne, Memorial Arch, Moggs Creek,” the first paragraph of the ENV Advice message read. 

“There continues to be an increase in multiple shark sightings being reported. 

“There is still one Great White shark approximately between 3 to 3.5 metres in length.

“To reduce the threat to people, the beach at Fairhaven remains closed.”

Mr Williams lives about three hours from the beach along the Great Ocean Road, to which the warning was relevant.

So why was he receiving the news?

Because the advice message on the app was mapped at Big Hill, 3555, instead of Big Hill, 3231.

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More than 200 kilometres separates the two locations.

“Now, I am not a marine expert, but I am guessing sharks do not like the hot, dusty bushland in our Big Hill,” Mr Williams said.

While he found the idea of sharks in the bush amusing, he was concerned for the accuracy and reliability of the app. 

“What about the people who live near Big Hill on the coast? Did they miss out on the warning?” Mr Williams asked.

He said he had downloaded the app in the belief it was the replacement to the FireReady app.

VicEmergency, not Emergency AUS, is the state’s official app for information about fires, floods, storms, earthquakes, tsunamis and water safety.

The icon for the official VicEmergency app, which replaced the FireReady app in November.

The icon for the official VicEmergency app, which replaced the FireReady app in November.

The new app was launched in November, when FireReady was decommissioned.

“While VicEmergency is Victoria’s authorised website and app for emergency information and warnings, a number of third parties have apps that use emergency information and data gathered from a range of sources as an alternative for the community,” an Emergency Management Victoria spokesperson said.

They said all the dangerous animal advice messages for shark sightings along the Surf Coast issued via the VicEmergency website and app were at the correct location.

“A shark alert notification received by Big Hill residents near Bendigo appears to have been sent from a third party emergency information service, not the VicEmergency App,” the spokesperson said.

“Community members can download the VicEmergency app from the Google Play and App Stores.”

Did you receive the advice about a dangerous animal in Big Hill? Share your experiences with our reporter by emailing emma.dagostino@fairfaxmedia.com.au or tweeting @amassedmedia