A handbook that outlines the responsibilities of all three levels of government during emergencies and disasters has been updated to help authorities in their preparations for future incidents.
Produced by the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience, the free Australian Emergency Management Arrangements Handbook was guided by a working group, which included the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).
“This updated handbook includes additions to reflect changes in approaches to managing an emergency,” the Institute said.
“It places a new emphasis on the education sector, the insurance industry, not-for-profits, natural resources management bodies, scientists and researchers.”
The chapters cover aspects of disasters including legal and administrative frameworks, prevention and mitigation measures, response and recovery arrangements. It also features links to each state and territory’s emergency management plans.
Losses from natural and human-caused hazards are increasing globally because of various factors such as population growth, migration to urban areas, and settlements in and industrialisation of vulnerable areas such as coastal zones and flood plains.
“Australia is not immune from these factors,” the book said.
“These trends may increase the vulnerability to, and the impacts of, emergencies and disasters.”
Local governments play a fundamental role in emergency management, the book said, because of their strong relationship with their local community networks and knowledge of locally-available resources.
“Local governments often have a more detailed knowledge of the population dimensions within a local government area such, as people with special needs, vulnerable and at-risk people, and special interest groups,” the book said.
“Where local government powers exist, and state legislation enables, local governments have responsibilities, in partnership with respective state and territory governments, to contribute to the safety and well-being of their communities by participating in local emergency management planning and providing capability.”
Local governments’ principal roles and responsibilities may include, but are not limited to: building and promoting resilience to emergencies, risk assessments of land use planning, and ensuring all requisite local emergency planning and preparedness measures are undertaken and that plans are exercised regularly.
The updated handbook is part of the Institute’s collection, which also covers communicating with people with a disability, community recovery, evacuation planning and incident management.