How it Works

Emergency management is effective when everyone works together and is co-ordinated according to the plans required by legislation. This collaboration is needed all the way from Prevention through to Recovery, to address any identified risk that may arise.

SERM Act 1989 specifies roles and responsibilities in the planning for and controlling emergency operations.

The following illustrates the management structure and the committees established by the SERM Act 1989 and their respective responsibilities.

Diagram of Management structure and committees established by the SERM Act 

Minister for Emergenc​y Services

The Minister for Emergency Services is responsible for:

  1. ensuring that adequate measures are taken by government agencies to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and assist recovery from emergencies
  2. coordinating the activities of government agencies in taking those measures
  3. arranging for the preparation and review from time to time of the State Emergency Management Plan.

State Emergency Management Com​mittee (SEMC)

The State Emergency Management Committee (SEMC) is the peak committee of officials, which develops emergency management policy and oversees emergency management in New South Wales. While not directly engaged in operational responses, the SEMC has a role in convening, briefing and raising the situational awareness of its members during imminent or occurring emergencies.

Regional Emerge​ncy Management Committee (REMC)

For emergency management purposes the State is divided in emergency management regions. In each of these regions, a REMC is in place which reflects the composition of the SEMC (where appropriate), and which is representative of the emergency management resources available in the Region.

Local Emergency Man​​agement Committee (LEMC)

The SERM Act 1989 recognises that the involvement of local government in all stages of an emergency is critical (ie, in prevention, preparation, response and recovery). Therefore, the emergency management structure and arrangements at local level are based on the Local Government Areas (LGAs) or combined Local Government Areas).

The NSW emergency management planning framework is set via the combination of the SERM Act 1989 and other legislation, Government priorities endorsed by the State Emergency Management Committee. The interaction of the various plans is shown below.

Emergency management planning within the state is a structured process that comprises three types of plans at state, regional or local level, where appropriate:

Diagram of Emergency management planning structure 

Emergency Management Plans (EMPLAN)

Emergency Management Plans (EMPLAN) are the main plans which outline the overarching management arrangements and documents the agreed roles and functions of various agencies. These are prepared at the State, Regional and Local Level.

Supportin​​g plans

Supporting plans, outline the arrangements by which the Functional Area will coordinate the support services allocated in the EMPLAN.

Sub plan​​s

Sub plans are prepared to address specific hazards or events where the required detail is different to or greater than that included in EMPLAN.


The following illustrates the roles that are allocated across the spectrum of the PPRR and the interrelationship between the various committees and groups that work together.

The commitment to an all hazards, all-agencies approach includes maximum co-ordination and information sharing across prevention, preparation, response and recovery phases.

Diagram of Interrelationships  

The State Emergency Recovery Controller (SERCON) is the Secretary of the Department of Justice. The SERCON:

  • oversees the preparation and maintenance of NSW recovery policies, arrangements and plans
  • liaises closely with the SEOCON during the response phase of an emergency
  • coordinates comprehensive assessments of the extent of damage and the need for recovery operations
  • recommends the appointment of a Recovery Coordinator to the Minister if required
  • oversees and supports Region and State level Recovery Coordinators as needed
  • coordinates activities of agencies in relation to recovery activities