New WA emergency arrangements in response to Keelty bushfire report
The Western Australian Government has announced new emergency management procedures in implementing a key recommendation of the Keelty report into the Perth Hills bushfire.
Emergency Services Minister Troy Buswell said the State Emergency Management Committee (SEMC) has been re-formed with Kerry Sanderson at its head. Ms Sanderson was previously WA’s Agent General, and before this she was CEO of Fremantle Port Authority
Mr Buswell said Ms Sanderson would have the full support of the State Government in ensuring the independent and objective oversight of emergency management, particularly of agencies whose role is to prepare for major emergencies.
“It became clear from the report prepared by Mick Keelty, and also from his subsequent report into the Margaret River bushfire, that the SEMC needed to work separately from the State Emergency Coordination Group and have an independent chair unaffiliated with any emergency response agency,” the Minister said.
“The Government has sought a clearer separation between the roles of the SEMC, as the body that examines the State’s preparedness for emergencies, and the State Emergency Coordination Group, chaired by the Commissioner of Police, which co-ordinates the response to specific emergencies.
“By appointing Kerry Sanderson and two new members of the SEMC - Sue Ash and Frank Edwards - the Government has sought to achieve this independence of thought and action.“
The SEMC is further complemented by chief executives from organisations involved in Western Australia’s emergency management.
This revitalised committee will ensure a much stronger focus on preparedness for large-scale emergencies and is supported with additional administration resources allocated in the 2012-13 State Budget.
SEMC’s role will be expanded to review and report on the implementation of past investigations or inquiries of emergencies, including independent and objective oversight of agencies’ post incident reviews of disaster responses where required.
In addition, there will be a strengthening of SEMC’s role of assessing the compliance of agencies and other organisations involved in emergency management with relevant legislation, policies and procedures. This will provide important information for assessing the preparedness of the State for large-scale emergencies.
“These appointments add to significant progress implementing recommendations of the Keelty reports,” Mr Buswell said.
“Themes raised by Mr Keelty - fire risk mitigation and management; collaboration; education and awareness; and the need for coordination across all areas when a response is needed - have been swiftly addressed by the State Government.”
The Minister announced that the two recently completed and independently conducted reports into last year’s Margaret River and Nannup bushfires would now be referred to the SEMC for consideration and advice to Government. They will also be publicly released.