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Local Government – Community Resilience Hubs


Rosalie Woodruff MP

Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 26 November 2020

Tags: Bushfires, Local Government, Community Safety

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, I am going to read to you a recommendation from a report called the Australian Bushfire and Climate Plan - it's the final report from the National Bushfire and Climate Summit this year. The group organising that was the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, a group of 33 former Australian fire and emergency service leaders in every state and territory. They have recommendations relevant to different levels of government.

The one in relation to local government was that federal, state and territory government should establish and fund community resilience hubs for every local government area in vulnerable parts of the country. These hubs would established in advance of disasters and then would have already developed a community plan for reducing disaster risks, connected obviously with local councils, and that they would receive an ongoing level of base funding.

What is your comment about that recommendation?

Mr SHELTON - First of all, of course, under the Emergency Management Act, local government plays a significant role in local emergency management planning. TFS aren't here, but TFS go through a process also with community protection planning and community protection plans and safe places, and so on. I don't know where you're going with the detail but a lot of that of work, I see, has already been achieved through the Tasmania Fire Service and what they do with their community.

Dr WOODRUFF - These responses were directly relating to the experiences from the Black Summer, so this recommendation was building on the knowledge of the Black Summer and you would know that every other state in Australia also has SES and their own fire services, they also have local governments. All of that infrastructure was in place. On the back of the experience of the Black Summer, the recommendation is that's not enough and we need to have community resilience hubs and that they need to be the intersection where it brings the community in, obviously, with the TFS, obviously with SES, obviously with local government.

Do you agree that this needs to be investigated for Tasmania?

Mr SHELTON - Certainly. What I've experienced in one trip to King Island, talking to the local government sector over there and the general manager and the mayor and with TFS involvement, they actually went through significant planning processes which TFS led with the local government and went through the community protection plans and identified all the issues. I don't know whether or not they were using the document you have in front of you, as a guide, but significant work and effort has been put into that.

Mr Limkin will continue.

Mr LIMKIN - The natural disasters royal commission report was recently released. The Government is currently considering its response to that. I'm advised the information contained in that report you are quoting was part of the experience considered by the royal commission as part of their review, and the Government will be considering all those recommendations and responding in an appropriate manner in the future.

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, the situation is that there is not currently in local government areas the mechanism to pool in a permanent way, the expertise of all of those different agencies in a community empowering resilience in an ongoing way. There will be a team set up in response to disasters, but this is about an ongoing way to provide information about escalating risk, preparation and strategies for responding.

It would not overtake the work of existing emergency services or TFS, it would add to it. Do you agree that, in Tasmania in particular, given the experiences we had in 2018-19, it is very important for us to have an ongoing community level response and preparation?

Mr SHELTON - There is no doubt as a community, government-led, we need to be resilient to any disasters and that means we need to put plans in place to protect our communities and make sure they are as safe as possible. I will go to Mr Limkin again to add some more.

Mr LIMKIN - Through the State Emergency Management Committee, LGAT is representative and engaged through that process. That is the avenue where we work with local governments throughout the year during periods of non-bushfire events or non-natural disaster events to help them build up their resilience and do their plans. The Local Government Division also helps with that type of work.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you for that; again, it is a different thing. It is not about this ongoing hub, but I accept it is important work.