Legislation and Plans

The NSW Government provides a range of training programs on emergency management, with face-to-face programs facilitated by the NSW Police Force's Regional Emergency Management Officers (REMOs)Emergency Management Training.

The State Emergency and Rescue Management (SERM) Act 1989 (NSW) is the legislation that governs Emergency and Rescue Management in NSW.

The State Emergency Management Plan (EMPLAN) stipulates the NSW Government approach to Emergencies in NSW.

Emergency in this context is an actual or imminent occurrence which endangers or threatens to endanger the safety or health of persons or animals or destroys or damages (or threatens to destroy or damage) property (including the environment) or causes a failure of or significant disruption to an essential service or infrastructure, being an emergency, which requires a significant and co-ordinated response. (Section 4, SERM Act 1989)

There are several Supporting Plans, which describe how an agency or functional area delivers support, and Sub Plans, which describe how the NSW Government manage a specific hazard or event type.

In emergency management, “Local” covers a local government area and “Region” covers an emergency management region as defined in the EMPLAN.

There are Local (copies available through the Local Government) and Regional Emergency Management Plans, which describe how emergencies are managed at each level.

The State Rescue Policy describes how the NSW Government maintains effective and efficient rescue services. Rescues in NSW are generally coordinated by the NSW Police Force. The NSW Police Force maintains multiple rescue units accredited with the State Rescue Board. The State Rescue Board (SRB) ensures the maintenance of effective and efficient rescue services across NSW and maintains a register of Accredited Rescue Units.

There are State, Region and Local Emergency Management Committees (SEMC, REMC & LEMC). There is also a State Rescue Board (SRB), and Regional and Local Rescue Committees (RRC & LRC). These boards and committees are made up of members from various organisations, and regularly convene to oversee rescue and emergency management in their areas.

Rescue and emergency management plans and policies can be accessed on the NSW Government Website.

Combat Agencies, Emergency Operations Controllers and Functional Areas

Combat agencies are certain agencies which are responsible for coordinating the response to a particular emergency. The NSW Police Force is the combat agency for Search and Rescue, and Terrorism.

There are Emergency Operations Controllers (EOCONs) at each level, who are sworn officers of the NSW Police Force. EOCONs control the response to emergencies where there is no designated combat agency.

Functional Areas represent key sectors and provide support to combat agencies. Each functional area has a dedicated Functional Area Coordinator (FAC). The NSW Police Force is responsible for the Public Information Services Functional Area (PIFAC). Other functional areas include:

  • Agricultural and Animal Services
  • Education Services
  • Energy and Utility Services
  • Engineering Services
  • Environmental Services
  • Health Services
  • Telecommunications Services
  • Transport Services
  • Welfare Services

Regional and Local Emergency Management Officers

There are Emergency Management Officers at a Region and Local level (REMO/LEMO). REMOs are an unsworn staff member of the NSW Police Force, and LEMOs are generally a staff member of the local council.

Emergency Operations Centres

During significant emergencies, the responsible EOCON may establish an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to support the combat agency. This will be made up of various emergency service organisations, combat agencies, functional areas and other members as required. The State Emergency Operations Centre (SEOC) maintains 24/7 situational awareness of emergencies across NSW and has a dedicated SEOC Support Unit which is staffed by unsworn employees of the NSW Police Force.

Disaster Victim Registration

The NSW Police Force is responsible for Disaster Victim Registration (DVR) in NSW. For most emergencies, this is managed locally by police. If you have been evacuated during a very significant emergency, such as during a bushfire or flood, and are unable to return home for some time, you can register your details on Australian Red Cross’ Register. Find. Reunite. system.

This is a nationally used system for DVR and facilitates evacuees getting in touch with family members, advises emergency services of evacuees’ whereabouts and safety, and ensures there are sufficient welfare provisions for evacuees. Family members can make requests to “Find” evacuees on the site, or by contacting the Public Information and Inquiry Centre (PIIC) on 1800 227 228 when activated during very significant emergencies.