In this issue:                                                                     May, 2014

Productivity Commission inquiry
Children and Young People in Emergency Management report
Changes to bushfire planning and building regulations
CFA NSP assessment guideline updated
New Natural Disaster Financial Assistance claims system
Emergency Management Commissioner announced
2014 Resilient Australia Awards
VCOSS-MAV Emergency Management Forum
Closure of the Australian Emergency Management Institute
Exercise Afloat!


Productivity Commission inquiry

The Australian Government has asked the Productivity Commission to undertake a public inquiry into the efficacy of current national natural disaster funding arrangements, taking into account the priority of effective natural disaster mitigation, and a reduction in the impact of disasters on communities.

The Productivity Commission released an issues paper on 9 May which covers a range of matters they seek submissions on to inform their draft report due for release in September. The MAV is preparing a submission in consultation with members.

The MAV views the inquiry as an opportunity to investigate some of the issues with the current arrangements, for example, thresholds and eligibility criteria regarding essential public assets, day labour and betterment.

The terms of reference and issues paper also indicate that more substantial reforms regarding the overall quantum of funding, incentive structures, and an absolute shift of funding from relief and recovery to mitigation may be considered.

Changes to the funding incentive structure, by increasing thresholds or tightening eligibility criteria at the Commonwealth level, or at the State level through a passing down of responsibilities, would pose significant challenges for councils. The implications for communities if these measures occured are serious and must remain a key consideration for the Productivity Commission in this reform process.

For more information contact Martijn Gough.

Children and Young People in Emergency Management report

The Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS) has released a report of key findings from its roundtable on children and young people in emergencies. To inform the report, VCOSS met with numerous community service organisations.

In particular, the report looks at frameworks that can be adopted to promote the psychosocial recovery of children and young people in the medium to long term.

The report highlights a range of recommendations to adequately meet the recovery needs of children and young people following an emergency.

The VCOSS report builds on the Department of Human Services Emergency Management Planning for Children and Young People – Planning Guide for Local Government document.

Changes to bushfire planning and building regulations

Minister Guy has announced a suite of reforms aimed at helping landowners find alternative safety measures to build on properties with a higher Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) rating.

Although the detail of the changes have not yet been released, it will include allowing the use of a private bushfire bunker as an alternative safety measure, vegetation clearance within a title boundary to provide defendable space, and allowing homes to be built in infill lots surrounded by other dwellings. We are seeking further information on how these reforms will be achieved.

We welcome the commitment of a $700,000 Bushfire Planning Assistance Fund to help councils and landowners. This will support councils to deal with the backlog of permit applications in rural and regional areas, help landowners wishing to submit a planning permit application, and assist councils to develop localised schedules to the Bushfire Management Overlay.

For further information, contact Gareth Hately.

CFA NSP assessment guideline updated

The CFA Neighbourhood Safer Places (NSP) assessment guideline has been reviewed and updated.

There is no change to critical assessment criteria in relation to maximum radiant heat impact. The update includes broader vegetation assessment criteria, and avoids duplication of assessors’ time and effort (specifically on review of designated NSPs where there is no change).

The May 2014 Guideline is available via the MAV’s online NSP toolbox, and the CFA has circulated a copy to councils.  For more information contact Ros Handley.

New Natural Disaster Financial Assistance claims system

The Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) is developing an automated system to replace the current paper based mechanisms for lodging, assessing and approving Natural Disaster Financial Assistance (NDFA) claims.

This system is not re-designing, or changing fundamental roles in the current process. However, it will:

  • Streamline the process by simplifying the movement of claims between agencies
  • Improve the ability of participants, and claimants in particular, to track where claims are in the process
  • Provide the capability to extract data and reports more efficiently and accurately
  • Remove the current reliance on manual reconciliations and the need to correlate records between agencies (including claimants).

DTF is currently planning for this system to go live in July. User acceptance testing will be conducted in late May/early June. DTF will contact councils directly in coming weeks to arrange training sessions and user support to assist the transition to the new system.

Manuals will also be provided, and a test system will be available to provide learning support prior to lodging claims in the live system. It is not expected that use of the system will be immediately mandatory.

For more information contact Ros Handley.

Emergency Management Commissioner announced

Craig Lapsley has been officially announced as Victoria's first Emergency Management Commissioner (EMC). The EMC will have an overarching management role during emergencies to ensure there is a coordinated response.

The process to appoint the Inspector General of Emergency Management is now underway.

The MAV congratulates the Commissioner on his appointment.

2014 Resilient Australia Awards

The Resilient Australia Awards recognise and promote initiatives across the nation that are making communities safer, stronger, more resilient, and better prepared to manage emergency situations.

Now in its 15th year, the awards program welcomes entries from organisations and individuals across a range of sectors including councils.

New for 2014 is a photographic section, with categories for amateur and professional photographers to submit images representing what disaster resilience in Australia means to them.

Entries for the awards are open until Wednesday 2 July.

The awards are sponsored by the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department in conjunction with the states and territories.

For information on the awards, contact the Victorian coordinator at the Office of the Emergency Services Commissioner on 8684 7938.

VCOSS-MAV Emergency Management Forum

Registration for the VCOSS-MAV Emergency Management Forum is open and the event program is available for viewing. This event will feature presentations from across the state.

The presentations will cover the innovative ways in which local councils work with community service organisations in planning and preparedness, resilience building, volunteer management and supporting vulnerable people.

The forum is being held in Seymour on Friday 13 June.

For more information contact Madelyn Jarvis

Closure of the Australian Emergency Management Institute

Earlier this month the Federal Government delivered its budget for the 2014-15 financial year. The Australian Emergency Management Institute (AEMI), which has been based at Mount Macedon since 1956, has been flagged to close by mid-2015.

The MAV is concerned that such a valuable institution will close and as such will be writing to the Hon. Justin Keenan, the Federal Minister for Justice, advocating for AEMI to remain open at a physical location, preferably at Mount Macedon.

The Australian Government has proposed that AEMI transition to an online institute that will be based in Canberra.

Exercise Afloat!

The City of Melbourne, in partnership with Victoria Police, Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Ambulance Victoria, VICSES, and the Department of Health and Human Services conducted Victoria’s first field deployment exercise in a major marina.

The exercise simulated a vessel collision in Victoria Harbour resulting in a major fire and personal injuries. The aim of the exercise was to practice City of Melbourne’s field responses to, and management of, a major emergency situation.

A video of the exercise is now available.

Upcoming MAV events...

12 June

Cultural planning in local government in Victoria

13 June

Demystifying local government finance and the new reporting framework

26-27 June

MAV Rural and Regional Planning Conference 2014


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