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 Strategic Priority 6 - Emergencies

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Provide national leadership in emergency management

The department provides national leadership in emergency management by engaging with a wide range of stakeholders – from government agencies to state and territory bodies, community groups, emergency services professionals, academics and individuals.

We also work with the international emergency management community to deliver critical programs, policies and services that strengthen and maintain Australia's emergency management capability.

The department is responsible for Australian Government support during emergency events, both physical and financial. We also manage the Crisis Coordination Centre and the National Security Hotline (see Strategic Priority 2).

With respect to Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA), the department continues to drive national cultural change in the effective administration of Commonwealth and state financial disaster recovery program. This work has been reviewed and is supported by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO).

Clients and stakeholders surveyed in 2017 expressed good levels of satisfaction with our community impact (75%), our effectiveness (77%), efficiency (73%) and professionalism (91%) (see Table 12). The survey results reflect our responsibilities in helping stakeholders fulfil their vital functions in serving and protecting Australians in times of emergency through our assistance to states and territories to achieve their priorities. We continue to work closely with stakeholders to further our understanding of their needs, and where appropriate, provide additional support.

Table 12 : KPI performance statement for Strategic Priority 6: Emergencies

KPIs Performance criterion(a) Target Result
Community impact Stakeholder satisfaction that EMA assists individual states and territories to achieve their priorities and minimise loss in emergency events 80% 75%
Effectiveness in achieving objectives Stakeholder and client satisfaction with the department's effectiveness in providing national leadership in emergency management 80% 77%
Efficiency in meeting goals Emergency management policy advice, program work and legislative changes Work meets all requirements 73%
Professionalism, skills and commitment Stakeholder and client satisfaction with the professionalism and commitment of staff involved in emergency management 80% 91%

(a)Performance criterion as per Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 18 and Portfolio Budget Statements 2016-17, Program 1.8, p.28

The key activities under this strategic priority and associated measurement are detailed in Table 13.

Table 13: Activity performance statement for Strategic Priority 6: Emergencies

Key activity Outcome
Trial the upfront disaster recovery funding model for the reconstruction of essential public assets based on damage assessments and estimates of costs ACHIEVED
Five national consultation workshops were held in 2016.
Integrate disaster risk into broader government risk management and decision-making ONGOING
The Disaster and Climate Resilience Reference Group continues to embed disaster and climate-risk thinking across policies and programs.
Develop a National Emergency Capability Development Framework to identify critical gaps and future capability needs ONGOING
National emergency capability priorities are being identified through an analysis of vulnerability and in planning for severe to catastrophic disasters.
Implement Governance and Compliance and Assurance Frameworks for recovery to improve oversight and assurance in the administration of programs ACHIEVED
Significant improvements to the structure, oversight and assurance of the programs were completed.
Implement recommendations of the Australia-New Zealand Emergency Management Committee (ANZEMC) Governance Review to ensure the committee remains responsive to the needs and priorities of communities and government ACHIEVED
The 12 recommendations associated with reforming the ANZEMC governance arrangements were implemented.


Funding domestic disaster recovery

During 2016–17, the department coordinated requests from the states and territories for Australian Government non-financial assistance for domestic disasters. This included for Tropical Cyclone Debbie that brought extraordinary flooding to Queensland and northern New South Wales during March 2017. From 28 March, nine Australian Government Crisis Committee meetings were hosted by the Crisis Coordination Centre to ensure a shared understanding across government agencies of the effects of the cyclone and how Australian Government responses were to be coordinated and appropriately targeted. In addition, liaison officers were deployed to the Queensland State Disaster Coordination Centre to facilitate provision of assistance.

In response to the 2015 report by the Productivity Commission into Natural Disaster Funding, consultations commenced with state and territory representatives from the departments of Premier and Cabinet, Treasury, Finance, Justice and Infrastructure as well as emergency services organisations. The Australian Local Government Association was also represented at the national consultation workshops. State-level consultations fed into the national workshops and included input from respective state audit offices and local government agencies.

Early consultations resulted in the co-design and trial of a new approach to disaster recovery funding. An ‘upfront approach' was trialled where the reconstruction of essential public assets is based on upfront damage assessments and estimated reconstruction costs. Five national consultation workshops were held in 2016 to finalise the arrangements. Since December 2016, state and territory partners have been trialling the upfront approach. Trialling will continue throughout 2017 and over the 2017–18 summer season.

This proposed new approach will give state, territory and local governments greater autonomy to deliver practical reconstruction solutions, reduce red tape, streamline administration and ensure appropriate fiscal support to communities following a disaster.

Integrating disaster risk thinking

Through the Disaster and Climate Resilience Reference Group we integrate risk and resilience considerations for all government departments. The department is a co-chair of the reference group with the Department of the Environment and Energy. The group continues to embed disaster and climate-risk thinking into Australian Government policies, programs and asset planning. This ensures collaboration and cohesion in delivering Australia's commitments across international and domestic frameworks, including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement on climate change. The reference group has senior official membership from all Australian Government departments as well as representatives from expert science and statistics agencies.

Delivering the National Emergency Capability Development Framework

The department is leading planning activities at the national level to improve Australia's preparedness for severe- to catastrophic-level natural disasters. In late 2015–16, the need to develop a national emergency management capability for such disasters was realised. In April 2017, the ANZEMC agreed to a roadmap of the path forward for nine core actions.

Delivering governance, compliance and assurance frameworks

We have made significant improvements to the administration of the NDRRA, particularly the oversight and assurance of the program. These improvements flow from recommendations made by the ANAO in their performance audit of the NDRRA.

A governance framework that defines the administration of disaster recovery has been developed to give a broader level of assurance to NDRRA determinations. The framework's objective is to ensure compliance with Australian Government policy, legislative and regulatory requirements and to provide direction and control over the management of disaster recovery funding programs.

The governance framework is supported by a Compliance and Assurance Framework. This framework includes a compliance management system to ensure compliance and assurance obligations under legislation are met.

Reviewing the Australia-New Zealand Emergency Management Committee governance

The ANZEMC includes representatives from all levels of Australian governments and the New Zealand Government. The committee's work aims to strengthen resilience to disasters. The ANZEMC provides strategic leadership on emergency management policy and supports capability and capacity development.

In September 2016, ANZEMC agreed to implement 12 recommendations to reform its governance arrangements. The recommendations provide the ANZEMC with a flexible governance structure to deal with emerging issues and implement priorities identified by ministers. The reforms have also renewed the committee's focus on strategic, long-term, national emergency management policy objectives and improved its engagement with non-government partners and stakeholders. As a result, in March 2017, 50 representatives from industry, the community and government sectors came together at the inaugural Disaster Resilience Policy Innovation Roundtable. The roundtable enabled ANZEMC members to collaborate with partners and stakeholders to discuss Australia's disaster resilience and risk reduction challenges and inform the nation's disaster resilience. The forum will be conducted annually.

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