A disaster or emergency can be defined as a serious disruption to the functioning of a community or a society caused by widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources.
Emergency Management involves the organisation and management of resources and responsibilities to deal with all aspects of emergencies across prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.
Australia’s Approach to Emergency Management
In 2011, the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) National Strategy for Disaster Resilience (NSDR) established a national resilience-based approach to disaster management. The NSDR acknowledges the increasing severity and regularity of disasters in Australia and the need for a coordinated, cooperative national effort to enhance Australia's capacity to withstand and recover from emergencies and disasters.
An increased focus on disaster risk reduction has led to Australia endorsing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, the global blueprint for reducing disaster risk and preventing the creation of new risks with the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework guiding whole of society efforts to proactively reduce disaster risk in the Australian context.
National Emergency Management
At the Australian Government level Emergency Management Australia:
- delivers national programs, policies and services that strengthen Australia’s national security and emergency management capability
- coordinates the physical and financial support for disasters and emergencies.
The Australia-New Zealand Emergency Management Committee (ANZEMC) works to strengthen disaster resilience by providing strategic leadership on emergency management policy and supporting related capability and capacity development activities including the implementation of the NSDR.
The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR) develops, maintains and shares knowledge and learning to support a disaster resilient Australia.
State Emergency Management
At the South Australian level the State Emergency Management Committee (SEMC) established under the Emergency Management Act 2004 is chaired by the Chief Executive of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and provides leadership and oversight of emergency management planning in South Australia, including the preparation and review of the State Emergency Management Plan.
The SEMC Strategic Framework 2017-2022 and SEMC Strategic Plan 2017-2022 guide the priority tasks and actions of SEMC and its sub-committees, in delivering state-level strategies and initiatives.
South Australian Fire and Emergency Service Commission (SAFECOM)
SAFECOM operates under the Fire and Emergency Services Act 2005.
SAFECOM provides strategic leadership in whole-of-government emergency management at a state and national level. SAFECOM is a member of the Australia-New Zealand Emergency Management Committee (ANZEMC) and its two sub-committees, and the Senior Officials Group for the Ministerial Council on Police and Emergency Management.
SAFECOM represents South Australia in national emergency management, resilience and risk reduction policy development, strategic projects, reviews and other emergency management-related initiatives.
SAFECOM is a member of the SEMC, all five SEMC Advisory Groups (Chairs two), leads and/or contributes to state strategic projects and is lead agency for disaster resilience in SA.
- administers the Natural Disaster Resilience Program
- coordinates the South Australia component of the Resilient Australia Awards
- leads and coordinates the State Logistics Functional Support Group.