Emergency management is a complex, whole of community series of activities; including risk assessment, prevention measures, preparedness to cope with future disasters, emergency response, recovery and rehabilitation.
Emergencies due to natural disasters cost the NSW community an average of $484 million per year, which is 44% of the national total. On average, there are more than 20 natural disasters costing more than $10 million every year in NSW.
These figures do not include 'non-natural' emergencies, such as the recent Equine Influenza outbreak, estimated to have cost the NSW economy in excess of $300 million. More than 15 people have died as a direct result of natural disasters or incidents in NSW over the last 18 months.
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). The positions are performed by senior Police in addition to their normal policing and corporate responsibilities.
Emergency Operations Controllers are responsible for coordinating support to combat agencies and for controlling any aviation emergency, major structure collapse or emergency not allocated to a combat agency.
District Emergency Operations Controllers and District Emergency Management Committees are supported by the eighteen District Emergency Management Officers (DEMO) who are civilian employees of the NSWPF.
State Emergency Operations Controller
The Governor may, on the recommendation of the Minister for Emergency Services, may appoint a State Emergency Operations Controller (SEOCON) and a Deputy State Emergency Operations Controller.
The person appointed 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 (State Emergency and Rescue Management Act 1989).
The SEOCON has a number of statutory responsibilities including:
- the overall direction, control and coordination of emergency response at State level, for which SEOCON is the designated Controller or where there is no designated Combat Agency;
- providing advice to the Minister for Emergency Services on all aspects of emergency response and recovery operations, whether there is a designated combat agency or not;
- The SEOCON is the authorised officer for seeking Commonwealth assistance (including Defence) through Emergency Management Australia.
Police Emergency Management Unit
There are ever increasing roles and expectations placed upon to NSWPF in relation to emergency management. The increasing complexity of emergency operations means that co-ordinating 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, Field Operations (in their capacity as SEOCON) and Assistant Commissioner, Central Metropolitan Region (in their capacity as Deputy SEOCON and Corporate Spokesperson, Emergency Management).
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 & business continuity knowledge base and capacity.
The Emergency Management Unit is responsible for:
- Provide executive support & advice concerning emergency management and business continuity issues to commands and business units;
- improve policing response to emergency management situations state wide;
- establish a central point of contact for issues pertaining to emergency management and business continuity;
- improve consistency in the approach to emergency management & business continuity within the NSWPF;
- strengthen relationships and information sharing with emergency service organisations, functional areas and other agencies;
- Ensure ongoing education strategies & exercises underpin emergency management and business continuity projects;
- Ensure emergency management and business continuity is embedded within our normal operational and business planning cycle.