AFAC 17 Kicks off in Sydney with boost for flood preparedness

Issued: 5 September 2017

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Up to 3,000 emergency management professionals and researchers will this week participate in AFAC 17, the joint annual conference of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council and Natural Hazards Cooperative Centre.

In his opening address this morning, Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant welcomed attendees from across Australia and around the globe to the International Convention Centre.

"AFAC 17 will provide a valuable opportunity for our emergency service agencies in NSW to learn from the experiences of their domestic and overseas counterparts," Mr Grant said.

"With more than 100 international and local speakers, together with field trips and professional development workshops, the conference program covers a number of key themes including urban operations, disaster resilience, and lessons learned.

"There is no room for complacency when it comes to emergency management. In NSW, we are committed to sharing knowledge and exchanging ideas so we can provide an even better service to our communities."

Following the AFAC 17 Opening Ceremony, Mr Grant announced the launch of the NSW Flood Data Access Program to enhance flood preparation and response across the State.

The NSW Flood Database Access Program was developed through the Natural Disaster Resilience Program (NDRP), is managed in partnership between the NSW State Emergency Service (NSW SES) and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. The Program aims to centralise all critical flood data captured by NSW Government agencies and stakeholders.

Mr Grant said the planning phase of this initiative was funded through the National Disaster Resilience Program, and further funding has been allocated by the NSW Government since the 2015-16 budget.

"The NSW Government has maximised the benefits of public investment in the Floodplain Risk Management Process by providing $1.9 million over four years, allowing the NSW SES to manage the NSW Flood Data Access Program on behalf of government and the floodplain management sector," Mr Grant said.

"This Government is taking deliberate steps to ensure communities across NSW are disaster prepared and disaster resilient before the next storm season hits.

"A key outcome of the program is decision support for improved capability in floodplain risk management, community safety, emergency management and strategic land use planning, including the Hawkesbury Nepean Valley in Western Sydney, the location of the State's greatest flood risk."

NSW SES Commissioner Mark Smethurst said the program will improve the sharing of key flood data from approximately 2,000 NSW flood studies to ensure this information is more broadly available to be considered in decision-making.

"It's vital that we do everything we can to ensure personnel have the support they need to better prepare for flooding and reduce the potential for harm to help make communities safer," Commissioner Smethurst said.

"The program will also support national resilience strategies by sharing information with communities to build a better understanding of local flood risks."

For more information about the flood data portal, visit: