The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is calling on local government to provide feedback on a new Discussion Paper seeking alternative long-term options to calling in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to assist with disaster response.
The recent Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements highlighted the need for alternative capabilities for response to disasters.
The Federal Government conducted a Defence Strategic Review, released in April 2023, where the Commonwealth agreed to work with local jurisdictions to develop national response and resilience measures to adverse climate change at the local level, without the need for ADF support, except in the most extreme emergencies.
A Senate Select Committee into Australia’s Disaster Resilience is also investigating the role of the ADF in disasters. The Senate has extended the committee’s reporting date to April 2024.
“Local governments play a key role in emergency response and recovery. This is due to their unique understanding of community-level needs, risks and vulnerabilities, and locally available assets and resources. They are also responsible for the construction, management, upkeep and rebuild of local road and community infrastructure, and managing large pieces of regional infrastructure that bind communities (such as bridges), and identifying communication infrastructure shortfalls for their region (such as blackspots),” the Discussion Paper states.
“Along with state and territory emergency services, local governments are an integral part of the emergency planning process, and play an important role in risk mitigation, land-use planning and land management.
“They are also able to support response and recovery efforts through the delivery of community services, such as through operating evacuation centres, relief centres and safe places.”
NEMA is seeking submissions by 20 September via NationalResilience.Consultation@homeaffairs.gov.au.