Emergency website > For the community > Community Ser​vice Workers > ​​​How Emergencies are Managed in NSW


​​​How Emergencies are Managed in NSW

On this page:

    ​Government agencies manage emergencies 

    In Australia, state and territory governments have responsibility for emergency management within their state and territory borders. The EMPLAN (NSW State Emergency Management Plan) sets out the state-level arrangements for NSW. This government plan set out how emergencies are managed in NSW and who does what.

    Arrangements are in place to ensure a coordinated approach and response, no matter what kind of emergency happens. Different people and groups have specific roles and responsibilities. The type of emergency will dictate which agency is in charge.

    The EMPLAN is supported by sub-plans that cover specific hazards like fire, flood or storms and supporting plans that cover the provision of essential services like transport, energy and utilities.

    There are also emergency management plans at regional and local levels.

    At the local level, councils manage Local Emergency Management Committees that assess the hazards communities face and how vulnerable they are to these hazards. Emergency management agencies like the NSW Rural Fire Service, the NSW State Emergency Service and Fire & Rescue NSW all have local units and brigades staffed by volunteers and people from the community.

    Emergency management is a continuous process - not only does Government respond to disasters and assist in recovery, they also work to prevent disasters from happening in the first place and to prepare communities for when disaster strikes.

    Prevent, Prepare, Respond, Recover

    Listed below are the kind of things that are done before, during and after a disaster.


    Each local council manages a Local Emergency Management Committee, which identifies hazards in the area, the community's vulnerability to them and the overall risk. The community then works with emergency services agencies and other groups to minimise these risks. For example, the NSW Rural Fire Services may back burn the area, or councils may work with the NSW State Emergency Service to strengthen flood banks and levees.


    Emergency services agencies, local councils and community organisations provide information, training and activities to prepare people and organisations for emergencies.

    Prepar​e for

    Bushfire Flood Storm Tsunami Heatwave 
    Structural fire

    Emergency manageme​nt plans

    There are emergency management plans at both the state and local government levels. These plans are tailored to local conditions and communities, and are tested and practiced regularly.

    More on plans available from Emergency services agencies, Non Government organisations and community organisations.

    More on State level plans​ | Contact your local council to find out more about Local Emergency Plans.


    Formal arrangements take over and agencies work together to provide a coordinated response.

    Evacuation centres could be set up for people who need to leave their homes and have nowhere else to go.

    All organisations have a role in responding to emergencies, not just emergency services. Schools have emergency management plans to protect their students. Roads and Maritime Services will manage the impact on roads. The NSW Police Force will help keep the community safe.


    Disaster welfare services support impacted communities at recovery centres and through visiting affected people at home.

    Extra support, like grants for low income earners without insurance, may be available to help the community to recover.

    Councils often set up recovery committees to help the community manage day to day. They help with things like road repairs, clean ups and general community support. The state government often supports these committees.

    Other agencies also​ provide services

    Many non-government agencies also support emergency management in NSW. For instance, disaster welfare services in NSW are delivered in conjunction with five community service organisations: the Australian Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Anglicare and the NSW Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network. These agencies have all signed formal government agreements to service impacted communities through evacuation and recovery centres, outreach and home visits. Find out more by clicking the images below.

    logo Salvation Army  

    Salvation Ar​​my

    The Salvation Army provides or arranges meals for:


    • people affected by disasters
    • welfare services staff and volunteers.


    logo Red Cross  

    Red Cross

    Australian Red Cross provides personal support services at evacuation and recovery centres and through outreach programs, including:


    • meet and greet
    • registration for welfare services
    • information and referral
    • care and comfort.


    logo Anglicare  


    ANGLICARE offers basic personal items at evacuation centres, when asked by the centre manager. It also provides volunteers who work with other organisations to deliver key welfare services to people affected by disasters.

    logo Uniting Church  

    Uniting ​​Church

    The Uniting Church provides a multifaith chaplaincy service after a disaster.

    What kind of disasters are most likely to affect NSW?

    NSW has experienced a range of emergencies, big and small, in recent years. Click on the type of emergency to find out more:

    Bushfire Flood Storm Tsunami Heatwave 
    Structural fire