You are here: Skip breadcrumbAttorney-General's Department >> Publications >> Annual reports >> Annual Report 2015-16 >> Strategic Priority 6

 Strategic Priority 6

Previous page Next page


Providing national leadership in emergency management
  • Reforming national disaster relief and recovery arrangements to improve transparency and accountability of state and territory expenditure, including in response to recent reports
  • Consulting with states and territories on long-term reforms to disaster funding arrangements to improve the effectiveness of disaster mitigation and recovery
  • Implementing a collaborative model with external providers for the delivery of emergency management leadership development and vocational education products and services
  • Supporting the development of a national fire danger rating system to improve and simplify information communications about fire danger and behaviour
  • Supporting national situational awareness and decision-making through the delivery of a new incident management system for the Australian Government Crisis Coordination Centre and Emergency Management Australia.
KPI 1: Our community impact
Measure: Deaths and total asset loss from emergency events excluding road crashes
Data is not available for the reporting year. There has been a positive community impact through jurisdictions with our work in providing financial assistance, capability development and improvements to systems (see KPI 2).
KPI 2: Our effectiveness in achieving objectives
Measure: Stakeholder and client satisfaction with the department’s effectiveness in providing national leadership in emergency management
Stakeholder survey indicated 93% of respondents were satisfied.
KPI 3: Our efficiency in meeting goals
Measure:Total instances of emergency management policy advice, programme work and legislative change that are on time, within budget and meet requirements
Policy and programme work met requirements.
KPI 4: Our professionalism, skills and commitment
Measure: Stakeholder and client satisfaction with the professionalism and commitment of staff involved in emergency management
Stakeholder survey indicated 98% of respondents were satisfied.


The department provides national leadership in emergency management. Through Emergency Management Australia (EMA), the department engages with a wide range of stakeholders – from government agencies to state and territory bodies, community groups, emergency services professionals, academics and individuals.

Stakeholders surveyed expressed high satisfaction with the department’s effectiveness (93 per cent) and professionalism (98 per cent) in emergency management. Other results indicated a 93 per cent satisfaction rating for the quality and consistency of our information, and 93 per cent satisfaction with the department’s support towards achieving an organisation’s priorities.

These results reflect the effectiveness of the department’s work in helping stakeholders fulfil their vital functions in serving and protecting Australians in times of emergency.


National Aerial Firefighting Arrangements

In 2015–16, the department provided $14.8 million to the National Aerial Firefighting Centre. In January 2016, the Prime Minister agreed to an additional one-off $0.5 million payment to support additional aerial firefighting during severe fire weather in January and February.

Disaster resilience funding programmes

Through the National Partnership Agreement on Natural Disaster Resilience, the Government committed $26.1 million in 2015–16 to state and territory governments to invest in disaster resilience projects. The purposes of the projects are to reduce risks associated with the effects of disasters, develop appropriate emergency management capability and capacity, and provide support for volunteers. States are responsible for securing matched funding, which may include third party and in-kind contributions.

In 2015–16, 22 projects (more than $3.6 million) were funded through the Australian Government’s National Emergency Management Projects grants programme. Projects included measures to support the attraction and retention of emergency management volunteers, assistance to farmers to better manage the impact of natural disasters and development of a national capability roadmap to improve the effectiveness of emergency services organisations.

Disaster financial support payments

In 2015–16, the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (DRP) was granted to more than 17,900 people. The DRP was activated for two events – the Pinery bushfire in South Australia and the Waroona bushfire in Western Australia. Payments continued to be made in 2015–16 to individuals affected by 2014–15 events, including New South Wales east coast storm and flooding, and tropical cyclones Marcia and Lam. Provision of the DRP is in addition to, and complements, personal hardship and distress and other assistance delivered under Category A of the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA). Assistance under the NDRRA was made available for 44 events in 2015–16, spanning 188 local government areas. The Australian Government’s preliminary estimated liability is $199 million.

In 2015–16, the Disaster Recovery Allowance (DRA) was provided to assist employees, primary producers and sole traders who had lost income as a result of a natural disaster. The DRA was activated for four events – the Pinery bushfire in South Australia, the Waroona bushfire in Western Australia and the Tasmania and New South Wales east coast storms and floods. Payments continued to be made in 2015–16 in relation to 2014–15 events, including New South Wales east coast storms and flooding, the Sampsons Flat bushfire and tropical cyclones Olwyn and Marcia.

Improving accountability in expenditure

This year the department brought about improvements to the accountability and transparency of disaster recovery spending by all levels of government.

The revised determination for the NDRRA was endorsed by the Minister for Justice and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter-Terrorism in October. The new arrangements, developed in response to an Australian National Audit Office report in 2014–15, clarified conditions that apply to state and territory governments. We also implemented a programme to better assess the eligibility of financial assistance claims to the Commonwealth.

Reforms to disaster-funding arrangements

In consultation with states and territories, the department worked on a new model for funding reconstruction of public infrastructure after a disaster. The model is based on providing funding up-front when an event occurs – using damage assessments and pre-determined reconstruction costs to calculate requirements – rather than reimbursing governments after costs have been incurred.

Emergency management leadership development

The department has implemented a collaborative model for the delivery of emergency management leadership development with external providers. The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (a collaboration of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council, Australian Red Cross, the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre and the department) will deliver:

  • a new national doctrine
  • networking and national capability development programmes
  • a schools education programme
  • volunteer leadership support programmes
  • knowledge management programmes.

The government has announced it will boost the education development opportunities for emergency management volunteers through a $1 million scholarship to be administered by the Institute, expected to commence in 2017.

Australia–New Zealand Emergency Management Committee

The department provides significant policy and secretariat support to the Australia–New Zealand Emergency Management Committee (ANZEMC) and its subcommittees. In conjunction with Victorian and Queensland officials, we are reviewing ANZEMC’s governance arrangements to ensure the committee remains responsive to the needs of communities and governments.

Developing capability

The Australian Government Crisis Coordination Centre includes a dedicated emergency management planning capability which develops and maintains national emergency management plans to respond to domestic and international crises.

The centre also plays a coordination role for major domestic and international events where multiple agencies provide services for the safety and security of Australian citizens. During 2015–16, domestic and international plans were activated to respond to events including the Tasmanian bushfires in early 2016 and Tropical Cyclone Winston in Fiji in March 2016.

In response to Tropical Cyclone Winston, at the request of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the centre worked closely with the Department of Health to deploy 21 members of the Australian Medical Assistance Team and two EMA liaison officers to Fiji.

National Capability Statement

Building on the successful development of the National Capability Statement in 2014, the department began work on identifying capabilities required during nationally significant disasters. This was done in conjunction with state and territory fire and emergency services and the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council (AFAC). Key areas of focus include catastrophic disaster planning, crisis leadership development, mass care and evacuation, fatality management and catastrophic disaster recovery.

The department will lead government engagement on this issue through ANZEMC.

National Strategy for Disaster Resilience

The department completed a review of the strategy, reflecting on the strong progress against the strategy’s priority areas. In particular, the department has focused on building resilience and promoting the integration of risk mitigation planning into all governments’ future land use planning, infrastructure and community-based decision-making.

Interstate assistance

In 2015, we worked with AFAC to review the Arrangements for Interstate Assistance. The arrangements were successfully used for the deployment of more than 1,000 Australian fire and emergency services personnel into Tasmania in early 2016.

Leveraging the new arrangements, the department also worked with AFAC to sign an arrangement with Canada’s Department of Natural Resources on the exchange of wildland fire management resources, the first national arrangement of its kind.

Improving systems

In 2015–16, the department worked on improving a number of emergency management systems and tools, including:

  • a new incident management system to improve situational awareness, decision-making and reporting. It will manage inbound and outbound communications, data, mapping, contacts and incident information.
  • the National Situational Awareness Tool (phase two) which provides agencies with access to authoritative data in real time and enables us to give more effective briefings to Ministers, senior officials and other decision-makers, such as crisis response committees
  • a national fire danger rating system which will enable jurisdictional consistency in fire danger ratings and messaging to the public, reduced economic impact and disruption to business
  • a National Impact Assessment Model (NIAM), completed on 30 June 2016. This provides an improved user interface, the ability to review and analyse emerging themes, issues and trends through online reports and a national store of NIAM trial data to inform future reviews and validations.

Previous page Next page