Emergency management is a complex, whole of community set of arrangements which is based on three nationally recognised approaches which are:
- The comprehensive approach – deals with prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery (PPRR)
- The all hazards approach - provides a common management structure to deal with all hazards which could impact on a community
- The all agency approach - recognises that no one agency can address the impacts of a particular hazard, this ensures all agencies with a capacity and capabilities to assist are included.
Emergencies due to natural disasters impact our communities in many ways. In dollar terms, the NSW pays in excess of $200 million per year on average for recovery and restoration expenses. The expenditure in 2014 alone was over $300 million and included over $150 million in road restoration work due to floods and storms (source NSW Govt).
The State Emergency and Rescue Management Act 1989 provides the basis for emergency management in NSW and establishes the positions of Emergency Operations Controllers (EOCONs).
Emergency Operations Controllers are responsible for coordinating support to combat agencies and for controlling any aviation emergency, major structure collapse or an emergency not allocated to a particular combat agency under legislation.
These positions are performed by Senior Police in addition to their normal policing and corporate responsibilities.
Region Emergency Operations Controllers and Region Emergency Management Committees are supported by eighteen Region Emergency Management Officers (REMO) who are civilian employees of the New South Wales Police Force. REMOs act as a conduit between emergency agencies and the community.
State Emergency Operations Controller
To provide leadership during times of crisis, senior Police act in a control position to assist all agencies and work with Government to deal with extreme circumstances.
In accordance with the State Emergency and Rescue Management Act 1989 the Governor may, on the recommendation of the Minister, designate a State Emergency Operations Controller (SEOCON).
The person designated as the SEOCON must be the Commissioner of Police or a member of the NSW Police Force Senior Executive Service and the person appointed as the Deputy SEOCON must be a member of the NSW Police Force Senior Executive Service.
The SEOCON has a number of statutory responsibilities including:
- Establishing and controlling a State Emergency Operations Centre (SEOC)
- The control and coordination of emergency response operations at State level, for which the SEOCON is the designated Controller or where there is no designated Combat Agency
- Supporting a Combat Agency that is primarily responsible for controlling the response to an emergency or assume control, if necessary to do so
- Provide advice to the Minister regarding emergencies, including whether or not a declaration of a ‘State of Emergency’ may be necessary
- Ensuring Initial Impact Assessments are completed following an emergency to inform recovery arrangements
Recommending to the Minister or Premier the formation of a Special Recovery Coordinating Committee led by the State Emergency Operations Controller (SERCON).
Police Emergency Management Unit
There are ever increasing roles and expectations placed upon the NSWPF in relation to emergency management. The increasing complexity of emergency operations means that coordinating support is more demanding and subject to greater public scrutiny than ever before.
In September 2008, the Commissioner's Executive Team approved the creation of an Emergency Management Unit. The Unit reports direct to Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn APM, Specialist Support in her capacity as SEOCON.
Role of the Police Emergency Management Unit
The Emergency Management Unit is responsible for improving the organisation's corporate capability by developing its emergency management and business capacity.
The Emergency Management Unit is responsible for:
- Provision of executive support and advice concerning emergency management issues to commands and business units
- Improving policing response to emergency management situations state wide
- Establishing a central point of contact for issues pertaining to emergency management
- Improving consistency in the approach to emergency management and within the NSWPF
- Strengthening relationships and information sharing with emergency service organisations, functional areas and other agencies
- Ensuring ongoing education strategies and exercises that underpin emergency management
- Ensuring emergency management is embedded within our normal operational and business planning cycle.