NSW Emergency Management Arrangements

​The community of New South Wales lives with a variety of natural and technological hazards. The more common hazards are floods, severe storms, and bushfires but other events such as exotic animal disease, major aircraft crashes and earthquakes are possible.

Most incidents are handled using standard procedures, however, if an event requires a significant and coordinated response, then this is termed an emergency.

The New South Wales Government acknowledges the inevitable nature of emergencies and their social, economic and environmental consequences. Accordingly, it recognises the need for a co-ordinated response by all agencies having roles or responsibilities in such emergencies.

A number of Acts of Parliament set out the duties and responsibilities of the emergency services. The State Emergency and Rescue Management Act 1989 (as Amended) is the Act that provides the legislative basis for co-ordination of emergency preparedness, response and recovery operations.

The Act provides for:

  • the preparation of the Emergency Management Plan (EMPLAN) and subordinate plans to ensure a co-ordinated response for necessary operations;

  • the establishment of Emergency Management Committees at State, Regional and Local Government levels; and

  • arrangements for controlling emergency operations.

The State Emergency Management Plan​​

The key element of emergency management planning in NSW is the Emergency Management Plan (EMPLAN). The objective of EMPLAN is to ensure a co-ordinated response by all agencies having responsibilities and functions in emergencies.

EM​PL​AN

  • identifies the combat agency primarily responsible for responding to the emergency;
  • specifies the tasks to be performed by all agencies in the event of an emergency;
  • provides for the co-ordination of the activities of other agencies in support of the combat agencies; and
  • specifies the responsibilities of the Minister and the State, Region, or Local Emergency Operations Controller.

Planning below State level​​

An important principle of Emergency Planning in NSW is that local communities have a greater insight into the needs and resources of their support of the wider community. Accordingly, EMPLAN devolves control and co-ordination of emergency operations and the responsibility for preparedness, response and recovery to the lowest possible level but lays out a structure by which these resources may be augmented by Region and State resources if the Local level resources cannot cope.

Combat agen​cies

A combat agency is the agency with the specific expertise and equipment to deal with the effects of designated hazards. The agency responsible for each major hazard is designated in EMPLAN.

Animal Health Emergency
NSW Agriculture 

Aviation Emergency
Emergency Operations Controller 

Bushfire
NSW Rural Fire Service 

Fire (Urban)
Fire and Rescue NSW 

Flood Storm, Tempest
NSW State Emergency Service 

Hazardous Materials
Land based: Fire and Rescue NSW
State waters: NSW Maritime and NSW Port Corporations
Inland waters: Fire and Rescue NSW 

Marine Oil Spill
NSW Maritime and NSW Port Corporations

Sub-Plans: planning for specific hazards

A Sub-Plan is a plan developed to counter a specific hazard, where the planning required is either more specialised or more detailed than that provided for in EMPLAN.

The following Sub-Plans have been produced:

  • Animal Health Emergency (Exotic Animal Disease)

  • Aviation Emergency

  • Bushfire

  • Flood

  • Hawkesbury/Nepean Flood Emergency

  • Major Structural Collapse

  • Marine Oil & Chemical Spill

  • Storm

Supporting Plans: plan​​ning for a coordinated response

Emergencies can develop to the point where a combat agency requires support, assistance, and advice from other agencies. Displan identifies Functional Areas and requires "Functional Area Supporting Plans" to be produced to ensure appropriate support is provided for the efficient supply of the necessary assistance. The following supporting plans have been developed:

  • Agriculture and Animal Services

  • Disaster Recovery Human Services

  • Engineering Services

  • Environmental Services

  • Health Services

  • Public Information Services

  • Transport Services

Emergency Ma​​​nagement Committees

Emergency Management Committees are established at State, Region, and Local Government levels. The Minister appoints the Chairperson of the State Emergency Management Committee. Regional Emergency Operations Controllers chair the Regional Emergency Management Committees, and Local Government Councils provide chairpersons for the local committees. Membership includes the heads of the Emergency Service organisations at each level and representatives of the functional areas. At state level, the Department of Infrastructure, Planning & Natural Resources, the Department of Local Government, the Premier's Department, and Treasury are also represented. Functional areas are not represented at local government level unless their structures extend to that level.

Control of op​erations

Where a combat agency is designated in EMPLAN, the head of the Combat Agency controls the operation. Where no combat agency is designated, control of the operation is vested in the Emergency Operations Controller.

At State level the State Emergency Operations Controller (SEOCON) is appointed by the Governor. Emergency Operations Controllers (who are also Police Officers) are also appointed at Region and Local levels.

Emergency Operations Controllers co-ordinate support or assist in co-ordinating support to a combat agency when requested by the Head of a combat agency.

Related inf​ormation

For further information about Emergency Management Arrangements please contact your Regional Emergency Management Officer or the State Emergency Management Committee.

The Emergency Management Overview course ran by the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) outlines current information on legislation, the planning framework, roles and responsibilities, committee structures, and the Comprehensive Approach to, emergency management in NSW. More information on Introduction to Emergency Management​​.