The Citizens Radio Emergency Service Teams, Victoria Incorporated, is a group of dedicated volunteers (there has never been any paid staff within the ranks) who monitor the Emergency Channels of the Citizens Band Radio Spectrum. These Emergency Channels have been gazetted, as such, by the Federal Government and are policed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority Officers.
CREST Australia Incorporated initially came into operation after a group of friends could see the need for an organisation to pass messages between those who had Citizens Band Radios and were passing the scenes of fires, floods, accidents or incidents that required Emergency Services or Utilities to attend and those services needed.
The group of friends then applied to the Federal Government of the day (1976 was when CREST became first recognized and commenced to operate) for the licensing and setting down of rules and regulations for the use of Citizens Band Radios. The rules and Regulations were then set down in the Post and Telegraph Act of 1976, with the Channels 35 and 5 on UHF, and, 9 on the HF spectrum becoming licensed and known as the Emergency Channels. (HF stands for High Frequency and UHF stands for Ultra High Frequency).
CREST then, with this group of friends setting down its Organisational Rules and Constitution, came into operation known as Citizens Radio Emergency Service Teams, Australia Incorporated, with the Organisation rapidly expanding into each State of Australia and the Northern Territory. The States and the Northern Territory became known as branches of the Australian body and were recorded as such.
Over the years of service by the volunteer members of CREST many thousands of calls were taken throughout Australia and passed onto Emergency Services or Utilities as well as private messages, through to homes where callers were going to be late home and desired their loved ones to be notified, together with general road and street directions.
Initially members of CREST throughout Australia listened for calls over their radio sets via what is known as simplex operation, which simply means a line of sight between the caller and the CREST Monitor. This continued for a number of years until the advent of Repeaters for use on the UHF spectrum. A Repeater literally situated, away from the CREST monitors home, on a high or easily accessible position receives the call from a person in need and then ‘repeats’ the call on the Emergency Channel, which is then received by the monitoring CREST member and actioned by that person.
The Repeater allows for calls on the ‘other side of the hill’ to the CREST member to be received clearly and then actioned by that person, whereas through the simplex system, this call would not normally have been received and help obtained or given.
With the advent of Repeaters and the Repeater System, CREST continued to take large numbers of calls for assistance throughout Australia.
In September of 1992 due to the Australian body of the CREST Organisation, as such, realizing that they had achieved as much as they could, commenced proceedings to close with each State and Territory moving to be Incorporated in their own right.
In July or 1993, Victoria incorporated in its own State but continued, like all States and the Northern Territory, to act as the one body with the sole purpose in mind of supplying the monitoring of the Emergency Channels should members of any community require assistance.
Victoria at this time was utilizing not only HF transmission but also a 35/5 Emergency UHF Repeater situated at Mt Dandenong and on loan from the Omega Radio Group, who were happy to hold the license for this Repeater and maintain it in proper working order, as well as supporting the efforts of the CREST Victoria Incorporated organisation.
In 1997 – 1998 this Emergency UHF Repeater was ‘attacked’ and destroyed by vandals at its site at Mt Dandenong, effectively placing the Greater Melbourne area as well as the areas stretching to the Great Divide in the north, the area to Warragul in the east and Geelong in the south west without UHF emergency coverage.
CREST Victoria Incorporated as a result of this vandalism and lack of coverage decided to invest in an RF (Radio Frequency) Link and resourced equipment to place this Link into operation. The ACMA was approached as well as the Omega Radio Group and the license for the 35/5 Emergency Channels was passed to the CREST Victoria Incorporated organisation and it is still held by our Organisation to this date. Permission was granted by the ACMA to install on Mt Anakie (to the north west of Geelong) the brand new RF Link which immediately on being placed into operation was utilized in an emergency call, where a woman was found ill in her home and as all power was cut off to the home due to a power failure, a vehicle car radio was utilized and a CREST Victoria Incorporated monitor called upon to obtain the services of an Ambulance for that woman.
This Radio Frequency Link equipment, time and installation was all done at a cost to the CREST Victoria Incorporated members who supplied funds and equipment as well as assistance with erecting the equipment on site. This cost was to the value of some $5,000.00 in all.
The Radio Frequency Link equipment was maintained until late 2007 when it was found, after numerous breakdowns of that equipment that replacement parts could not be located to continue with the Radio Frequency Link operation.
The RF Link was removed and CREST Victoria Incorporated monitors returned to the original operation of monitoring ‘simplex’ with a shorter range of operations. This was found to be entirely unsatisfactory as the service to the communities that the RF Link had given could not be maintained.
In the latter part of 2008 the CREST Victoria Incorporated organisation sought assistance from two civilians, who agreed to help, advise and assist CREST to source, test and then install equipment needed to re introduce a modern and up to date Repeater facility, which would go on line as quickly as possible, to again service the areas needed. HF monitoring was maintained during this time by the volunteer members.
Proudly in later November of 2008, CREST Victoria Incorporated completed the construction and installation of a brand new UHF Repeater facility at Mt Anakie, co existing on a Barwon Water Site, at a yearly cost to the organisation, again supplying a communication network for emergency and non emergency assistance to those with the communities covered by the new Repeater and it was found that this facility could be accessed from the Melbourne and Mornington Peninsula areas as well as Warrnambool in the west of the State.
The CREST Victoria Incorporated organisation proudly holds onto its dedication to maintaining a communications network for any one in need or emergency or non-emergency assistance through both UHF and HF monitoring of the allocated Emergency Frequencies.
As part of the installation at Mt Anakie, an additional new facility is that of a commercial UHF radio channel available to the CFA, St. John Ambulance and State Emergency Service members within the area covered from Mt Anakie. This additional commercial UHF frequency, which can be easily programmed into their hand held and mobile units radio equipment gives the personnel from these services an additional channel on which to call for assistance, in event of disasters or incidents, where their own communications networks fail or become overworked with radio traffic.
Again, and with all services to the community, CREST Victoria Incorporated supplies this equipment, available monitoring dedication and assistance at no cost at all to these other Emergency services.
In doing this we are happily endeavouring to make as many regional communities safer and better places to live, through our citizens band radio spectrum.
CREST also proudly and regularly supplies members and equipment for the Super Sprint Events Organisation, who are responsible for the Triathlons and other events within Victoria. Our members are positioned on points for these events with one member being in control of our Communications Unit, for the relaying of messages to the organisers, in the event a competitor is injured or in need of other assistance.
For these services CREST Victoria Incorporated receive a small donation for their services which assists in keeping the organisation viable, with updated equipment and safety clothing so that we can also continue our services to the community through this avenue.