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                                    K E E P I N G

                                    S A F E

Attorney-General’s Department
Emergency Management Australia
PO Box 1020
Dickson ACT 2602
EMA Canberra                    EMA Mount Macedon
Telephone +61 (0) 2 6256 4600   Telephone +61 (0) 3 5421 5100
Facsimile +61 (0) 2 6256 4653   Facsimile +61 (0) 3 5421 5272

© Commonwealth of Australia 2007
ISBN 978-1-921152-10-8
Keeping Our Mob Safe


                  Australian Government

                      In collaboration with

New South Wales
The development of the National Emergency Management Strategy for Remote Indigenous
Communities was initiated by the Australian Emergency Management Committee (AEMC)
in 2004, and the completed Strategy has been endorsed by the Augmented Australasian
Police Ministers’ Council (now renamed the Ministerial Council for Police and Emergency
Management or MCPEM). The Strategy addresses recommendations made in the Council of
Australian Governments’ directed review Natural Disasters in Australia: Reforming mitigation,
relief and recovery arrangements (2002) and aims to improve the disaster resilience of remote
Indigenous communities.

The Strategy was developed by the Remote Indigenous Communities Advisory Committee
(RICAC), a sub-committee of AEMC, with funding provided through the Australian
Government’s ‘Working Together to Manage Emergencies’ Program.

RICAC is chaired by the Director General, Department of Emergency Services Queensland and
membership includes both emergency management and Indigenous representation from:

        • New South Wales

        • Northern Territory

        • Queensland

        • South Australia; and

        • Western Australia

The Australian Government was represented on RICAC by the Attorney-General’s Department
through Emergency Management Australia (EMA) and the Department of Families, Community
Services and Indigenous Affairs through the Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination. EMA
provided secretariat support to the committee.

RICAC gratefully acknowledges the work of Vision Network Pty Ltd in consulting with
stakeholders and drafting of the Strategy. In particular, RICAC acknowledges the contribution
made by Indigenous communities and agencies and emergency management agencies in
RICAC member states and territories to the development of the strategy.


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY                                                       6

1.   INTRODUCTION                                                       8
     1.1 Development of the strategy                                     8
     1.2 Objectives                                                      8
     1.3 Remote Indigenous communities                                   8
     1.4 Consultations                                                  10
     1.5 Emergency management issues                                    12

2.   BACKGROUND                                                         14
     2.1 Emergency management responsibilities                          14
     2.2 Identification of the needs of remote Indigenous communities   15

3.   VISION, AIM AND PRINCIPLES                                         16
     3.1 Vision                                                         16
     3.2 Aim                                                            16

     3.3 Principles                                                     16

4.   PRIORITIES                                                         17
     4.1 Priority 1—Decision-making structures in remote
         Indigenous communities for emergency management                18
     4.2 Priority 2—Communication and engagement with remote
         Indigenous communities in emergency management                 19
     4.3 Priority 3—Community emergency management planning
         for remote Indigenous communities                              20
     4.4 Priority 4—Community resourcing for emergency
         management in remote Indigenous communities                    22
     4.5 Priority 5—Coordinated and cooperative approach to
         emergency management in remote Indigenous communities          23
     4.6 Priority 6—Empowering Indigenous people
         through emergency management training                          25
     4.7 Priority 7—Education of Indigenous people                      27

     5.1 Agency responsibilities                             29
     5.2 Reporting                                           29
     5.3 Timing                                              29

     Priority 1—Decision-making structures in remote
     Indigenous communities for emergency management         30
     Priority 2—Communication and engagement with
     remote Indigenous communities in emergency management   30
     Priority 3—Community emergency management
     planning for remote Indigenous communities              30
     Priority 4—Community resourcing for emergency
     management in remote Indigenous communities             31
     Priority 5—Coordinated and cooperative approach to
     emergency management in remote Indigenous communities   32
     Priority 6—Empowering Indigenous people
     through emergency management training                   32
     Priority 7—Education of Indigenous people               33

SHORTENED FORMS                                              34

GLOSSARY                                                     35

BIBLIOGRAPHY                                                 36

Executive Summary

Keeping our mob safe: National emergency management
strategy for remote Indigenous communities is a
response to an identified need for a practical approach by
government at the local, State/Territory and national levels,
and by Indigenous communities to address the community
emergency management priorities of remote Indigenous
communities. Importantly, the strategy also takes into
account the broader community safety priorities and needs
of remote Indigenous communities, as related to emergency

Issues raised by Indigenous peoples through a thorough
consultation process have been addressed by this strategy
where possible. This process involved extensive community
discussions across three States and two Territories.
Because Indigenous people’s issues are interrelated,
particularly from a holistic community standpoint, it is
difficult to separate out emergency management concerns
per se. However, this focus has been attempted, with
broader concerns being considered at times, to better
retain the spirit of consensus achieved through community

The strategy intends to provide a strategic direction
for emergency management and a framework for a
coordinated and cooperative approach to risk assessment,
decision-making and resource allocation. Its stated focus
on preparedness and prevention also enables government
to address deficiencies effectively in remote Indigenous
communities before they face emergencies. Because some
of these emergencies regularly occur in Australia due to the
pattern of natural hazards (for example, tropical cyclones,
flooding and bushfires), it is imperative that government
fulfils its mandate to protect all citizens in a meaningful and
timely manner.

The development of effective partnerships between remote Indigenous communities
and emergency management-related agencies is the key to the success of this
strategy. Building the capacity within and between agencies to support and assist
Indigenous communities is a necessary first step. Beyond this, a host of priorities
require attention, including encouraging communities to build their own capacities for
emergency management through enhanced communication and engagement with
agencies; better community decision-making; improved resource agreements with
partner agencies; more targeted training for community members and emergency
management providers; real employment opportunities for Indigenous peoples
(including voluntary work); and community education to raise awareness and prepare
for emergencies.

The National emergency management strategy for remote Indigenous communities
incorporates the following priorities:

Priority 1—Decision-making structures in remote Indigenous
             communities for emergency management

Priority 2— Communication and engagement with remote
             Indigenous communities on emergency management

Priority 3— Community emergency management planning
             for remote Indigenous communities

Priority 4— Community resourcing for emergency management
             in remote Indigenous communities

Priority 5— Coordinated and cooperative approach to emergency
             management in remote Indigenous communities

Priority 6—Empowering Indigenous people through
             emergency management training.

Priority 7—Education of Indigenous people.

                                 1. Introduction

1.1      Development of                                      • Build the capacity of remote Indigenous communities

         the strategy                                           to improve community safety through sustainable
                                                                emergency management.
The development of the National emergency
                                                             • Increase government commitment and accountability
management strategy for remote Indigenous
                                                                to address issues impacting on effective emergency
communities was endorsed by the Augmented
                                                                management in remote Indigenous communities.
Australasian Police Ministers’ Council (A/APMC). This
follows increased recognition by government since 2000       • Promote effective partnerships between emergency
that the issues relating to emergency management in             management agencies, Indigenous organisations,
remote Indigenous communities need to be addressed.             government and other agencies to improve
                                                                community safety outcomes for remote Indigenous
The strategy has been developed by the Remote
Indigenous Communities Advisory Committee (RICAC),
which was established by Emergency Management
Australia and endorsed by the Australian Emergency
                                                             1.3       Remote Indigenous
Management Committee (AEMC), which is the peak
body responsible for managing national strategic             Remote Indigenous communities are defined by some
emergency management issues and policies and                 or all, but are not limited to, the following characteristics,
reporting to relevant ministers. This project has been       which present complex emergency management risks
funded through the Australian Government Attorney-           and challenges:
General’s Department Working Together to Manage
                                                             • entrenched levels of disadvantage
Emergencies funding.
                                                             • geographical isolation
1.2      Objectives                                          • lack of services or infrastructure
The objectives of the strategy are to:
                                                             • lack of access to services
• Develop knowledge and skills in Indigenous
   people and organisations to enhance emergency             • restricted or limited accessibility
   management in remote communities.                         • vulnerability and exposure to hazards
• Improve the level and appropriateness of emergency         • low economic base, and
   management-related services in the area of
                                                             • unique cultural or communication issues.
   prevention, preparedness, response and recovery
   provided by relevant agencies in remote Indigenous

Remote Indigenous communities in Australia have                           and customs in communities add to the complexities
diverse and complex emergency management                                  of developing a national approach to emergency
needs. The complexities are often a result of isolation,                  management.
vulnerability and exposure to natural hazards,
                                                                          The map below shows discrete Indigenous communities
inadequate services and infrastructure, transient
                                                                          and remoteness areas across Australia. The communities
populations, accessibility issues and entrenched levels
                                                                          have been classified through the Australian Standard
of disadvantage. Different governance structures and
                                                                          Geographical Classification Remoteness Structure 2001.
statutory arrangements and distinctive languages







                                                                  �                 ����

(Reference: Housing and Infrastructure in Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Communities, Australia, Australian Bureau of
Statistics 2001.) ABS data used with permission from the
Australian Bureau of Statistics.

1.4       Consultations                                        • employment

Consultations on issues relating to emergency                  • funding
management in remote Indigenous communities were               • governance
conducted around Australia in July and August 2005
                                                               • provision of services
with representatives of remote Indigenous communities,
key organisations and government agencies. An analysis         • partnerships and agreements, and
of feedback from the consultations provided information
                                                               • training.
in the following areas:

• key themes relating to emergency management
                                                               Emergencies in remote Indigenous
• emergencies in remote communities, and
                                                               Emergencies mean different things to different people.
• key emergency management issues in remote                    Emergency is defined in many jurisdictions as ‘an event
   Indigenous communities.                                     requiring a significant, coordinated response’. Nobody
                                                               would deny that a cyclone impact is an emergency,
Key themes relating to emergency                               but many emergency management organisations
                                                               do not regard individual incidents as emergencies,
Consultations indicated some key themes relating               arguing that they are resolved routinely. At the level of a
to emergency management in remote Indigenous                   remote community, however, incidents such as a single
communities. These key themes and related feedback             vehicle road crash or a schoolyard fight can require a
have been incorporated into the strategy priorities and        significant coordinated response for that community. The
the goals and actions to implement and achieve the             concept of ‘emergency’, and by inference emergency
priorities. They are:                                          management, must be viewed in context. Given the
• commitment and accountability                                extremely limited capability and capacity of remote
                                                               Indigenous communities, a broad concept of emergency
• communication                                                is needed.
• consultation                                                 Consultations indicated that remote Indigenous
• coordination                                                 communities across Australia face emergencies
                                                               generated by vastly different risks, based on their
• decision-making
                                                               locations and seasonal factors. For example,
• diversity                                                    communities in the northern parts of Australia are at risk

• education                                                    from cyclonic winds, floods and storm surges caused

by cyclones and flooding monsoonal rains in the wet                Human-caused hazards
season (November to March), plus bushfires in the
                                                                   • accidents (for example, vehicle, plane crashes,
dry season (March to November). Communities in the
                                                                      industrial, farming)
southern parts of Australia are at risk of floods caused by
winter rains (July to August), storms and cyclones (often          • environmental accidents (for example, chemical and
originating in other states) and bushfires (November                  hazardous materials)
to March). All communities faced risks from human-
                                                                   • poisoning (for example, spraying, baiting, water
generated hazards as well.
The impact of these hazards on remote Indigenous
                                                                   • environmental hazards (for example, asbestos)
communities is often greater than other communities
because of their geographical and social remoteness.               • fire (for example, house, building, vehicle)
As a result, the risk represented by these hazards can             • loss of essential services (for example, electricity
be substantial in remote Indigenous communities. The                  failure, water shortage, gas leaks)
following potential hazards were identified by Indigenous
                                                                   • collapse of infrastructure
people living in remote communities across Australia.
                                                                   • drowning
Natural hazards
                                                                   • land and sea rescue
• cyclones, storms and destructive winds
                                                                   • lost or missing persons
• floods
                                                                   • space debris
• drought
                                                                   • terrorism
• dust storms
                                                                   Socioeconomic hazards
• earthquakes and tremors
                                                                   • civil unrest, feuding, disruptive events
• extreme temperatures and weather
                                                                   • social situations (for example, excessive substance
• tsunami (tidal wave) and sea surge
                                                                      abuse/misuse, domestic violence, suicide)
• bushfire
                                                                   • disease or infection epidemic (for example, rota virus)
• insect plagues

Key emergency management issues in                                • Social situations such as excessive substance
remote Indigenous communities                                       abuse/misuse, domestic violence, suicide, pandemic-
                                                                    type diseases, mental illness, poverty and theft are
Consultations identified the emergency management
                                                                    considered emergency situations in many remote
needs and priorities of Indigenous people living in remote
                                                                    Indigenous communities.
                                                                  • For emergencies, the general focus of the community
During consultation, representatives of remote
                                                                    and emergency management personnel is on the
Indigenous communities indicated that when
                                                                    response and recovery processes in the short term,
emergencies occur or there is a high likelihood of their
                                                                    which rarely takes into consideration the cultural
occurrence, communities often discover the limitations of
                                                                    orientations and traditions of remote Indigenous
their capacity and ability to respond to and recover from
                                                                    groups and the consequences of mainstream
an emergency and its long-term effects. It is also at this
                                                                    recovery processes (for example, the consequences
time that the inadequacies and/or inappropriateness of
                                                                    of prolonged evacuation or evacuation to culturally
the information and/or services provided by government
                                                                    inappropriate locations).
agencies and service providers are highlighted.
                                                                  • The recovery process for emergencies in remote
1.5      Emergency management                                       Indigenous communities needs to take into account
         issues                                                     and provide appropriate services (for example,
                                                                    counselling services) for the emotional trauma
The following emergency management issues,
                                                                    experienced by Indigenous people in relation to
clustered under four broad themes, were highlighted
                                                                    emergencies and their effects on individuals, families
by representatives of remote Indigenous communities
                                                                    and communities.
during the consultations.
                                                                  • Indigenous people recommend that all personnel
Cultural appropriateness                                            involved in emergency management for their
• Remote Indigenous communities are diverse and                     community should undertake cultural-awareness
   need to be recognised as such in the provision of                training and develop understanding of cultural
   emergency services and emergency management                      protocols to enhance relationships with the
   strategies and processes. For example, there is a                community.
   range of differences in locations and groups between
   Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders, and
   between island and mainland communities.

Effective engagement                                               relevant services and allowances to the community,
                                                                   individuals and families.
• Remote Indigenous communities on the mainland
   include homelands and outstations, which are                  A collaborative approach
   generally linked to larger communities and have
                                                                 • Indigenous people who are long-time residents of
   continuous relationships with them. These homelands
                                                                   their communities know the people, relationship
   and outstations need to be considered when planning
                                                                   systems and the day-to-day operations of their
   and implementing emergency management for
                                                                   communities and feel that they need to be involved
   remote Indigenous communities.
                                                                   in the long-term coordination and organisation of
• Planning and development of remote community                     emergency management for their communities.
   infrastructure and operations requires a holistic
                                                                 • Indigenous people feel that they have local and
   approach that takes into account legislative
                                                                   traditional knowledge and experience that must
   requirements and provision of services for sustainable
                                                                   be respected and recognised by non-Indigenous
   emergency management. Planning needs to
                                                                   people involved in emergency management for
   involve Indigenous decision-making structures in
                                                                   their communities. This knowledge must be used
   communities and the participation of Indigenous
                                                                   in training and preparing for employment in the
   people at all levels of emergency management.
                                                                   emergency services sector.
• Overall, limited attention is given to the prevention
                                                                 • More effective responses are generated where there
   and preparation processes and longer-term recovery
                                                                   is a combination of Indigenous involvement and
   process. This means that the total emergency
                                                                   responsibility, a Community Emergency Management
   management process and the prevention,
                                                                   and/or Disaster Plan, and a State Emergency Service
   preparedness, response and recovery (PPRR)
                                                                   (SES) controller or someone in the community with
   approach is not comprehensively and clearly
                                                                   organisational experience of emergencies.
   understood by key Indigenous community leaders,
   nor generally understood by the community.                    • Emergency management training can be included
   Complacency can develop, and actions taken in                   as part of governance training for Indigenous
   emergencies are reactive not proactive.                         corporations and organisations, and emergency
                                                                   services can be considered as part of discussions
• Indigenous Community Councils need to be
                                                                   and negotiations for shared responsibility agreements.
   presented with information on the roles and
   responsibilities of government agencies and service
   providers, and how these relate to emergency
   management for communities and to the provision of

                                                                    2. Background

Empowering individuals and communities                           2.1       Emergency management
• Indigenous people in SES roles generally feel                            responsibilities
   disempowered in relation to emergency management              State governments are responsible for many regulatory
   situations in their communities. They are usually             arrangements essential for emergency management.
   volunteers or Community Development Employment                Some service provision is devolved or delegated by the
   Program (CDEP) workers without appropriate                    States and Territories to local governments. There is
   authority and adequate training, and they feel                also significant participation by volunteers and volunteer
   unable to be involved in their own right to contribute        groups, particularly in remote communities where
   more effectively to the safety and health of their            community safety needs are a high priority.
   communities through sustainable emergency
                                                                 A wide range of organisations provides emergency-
                                                                 related services to Australian communities. They include:
• Indigenous communities need awareness and
                                                                 • ambulance services
   education programs for all aspects of emergencies.
   Local emergency management training, including                • emergency services
   risk management, is needed for CDEP workers and
                                                                 • family and community services
   community residents, including service providers for
   the community.                                                • health services

• Indigenous people should be encouraged to                      • local governments
   participate and be involved in the development                • metropolitan and rural fire services
   and delivery of education and training programs in
                                                                 • police, and
   emergency management. Community members of
   CDEPs, Community Councils and service providers,              • the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
   and other residents identified by the community,
                                                                 Specific roles and responsibilities may vary in different
   should undertake this training.
                                                                 jurisdictions. Many of these organisations are also
In delivering on its seven priorities, this strategy aims        responsible for prevention or mitigation and recovery
to address the above emergency management issues                 activities in their jurisdictions, which often require
highlighted by community members during consultations.           considerable financial commitment.

                                                                 In some States and Territories local governments have
                                                                 significant responsibilities in determining the framework
                                                                 for community safety. It is important to note that different

governing structures for remote Indigenous communities           Recommendation 59
exist across jurisdictions and some communities are
                                                                 That more flexible funding arrangements, and an
not located within local government areas. Access
                                                                 outreach strategy, be adopted by all levels of government
to adequate essential services remains an issue for
                                                                 to ensure that remote Indigenous communities have
Indigenous people living in remote locations, where
                                                                 improved access to funding for mitigation measures.
responsibility for the provision of services may be
                                                                 Flexible funding will be achieved through the …
                                                                 undertaking that the local contribution for mitigation

2.2      Identification of the needs                             measures be reduced or waived by agreement in certain
                                                                 circumstances so that barriers to participation are
         of remote Indigenous
The needs of Indigenous communities have received                Recommendation 60
increased recognition by the emergency management                That in appropriate disaster circumstances, recovery
sector in recent years. The 2000 Australian National             assistance through the Special Community Recovery
Audit Office report on Commonwealth emergency                    Modules … be used to support remote Indigenous
management arrangements raised the needs of                      communities.
Indigenous communities as an important priority. In
2002, this situation was considered a key issue in the           Recommendation 61
Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) Review of              That personal hardship and distress assistance,
natural disaster relief and mitigation arrangements. The         administered in a flexible way, be available from State
review was carried out by a high-level group of officials        and Territory Governments for disasters below the small
representing Australian Government, State and Territory          disaster threshold …
governments and the Australian Local Government
                                                                 (Reference: Report to COAG, Natural Disasters in
Association. It identified the strengths and weaknesses
                                                                 Australia: Reforming mitigation, relief and recovery
of current arrangements for managing natural disasters.
                                                                 arrangements (2002)’
The review recommended that the special needs of
remote and vulnerable Indigenous communities be
addressed as follows:

                                  3. Vision, aim and principles

3.1       Vision                                              3.3      Principles
The vision of the National emergency management               This strategy seeks to address the shortcomings in the
strategy for remote Indigenous communities is:                current whole-of-government emergency management
                                                              system and make it inclusive of remote Indigenous
• Prepared and safer remote Indigenous communities.
                                                              communities. It is not trying to set up a parallel

3.2       Aim                                                 emergency management system.

The National emergency management strategy for                The principles underpinning the strategy are:

remote Indigenous communities aims to improve                 • Communication relating to emergency management

emergency management at the local, regional, State and           is based on culturally friendly language and the use

Territory, and national levels.                                  of different and appropriate mediums for remote
                                                                 Indigenous communities.
It provides a strategic direction for emergency
management in remote Indigenous communities and a             • Community emergency management plans are

framework for a coordinated and cooperative approach             developed in consultation and partnership with

by agencies involved in emergency management.                    remote Indigenous communities and governance

It promotes the consideration of community needs,                structures.

collaborative decision-making and appropriate resource        • Community emergency management in remote
allocation, and seeks to ensure vulnerable and remote            Indigenous communities is included as part of
Indigenous communities are assisted by agencies to               the mainstream service provision work plans of all
become more prepared and resilient in the face of                agencies.
                                                              • Flexible approaches in a multi-agency whole-of-
Importantly, the strategy prescribes the obligation of           government approach are adopted by service
the Australian Government and State, Territory and               providers to resolve emergency management issues
local governments to partner with remote Indigenous              in remote Indigenous communities.
communities to improve community safety and
                                                              • Flexible models of service delivery are used to
emergency management. To this end, the capacity
                                                                 meet the emergency management needs of remote
of agencies to adequately service remote Indigenous
                                                                 Indigenous communities.
communities may also need to improve and increase.
                                                              • Coordination and cooperation among all levels
                                                                 of government is essential for the effective
                                                                 implementation of emergency management in remote
                                                                 Indigenous communities.

4. Priorities

To provide a strategic direction for emergency
management in remote Indigenous communities, seven
key priorities have been identified. Each priority has
related goals and a set of guiding actions to enable the
implementation and achievement of priorities.

Together they are intended to form the basis for the
development of action plans by State and Territory
government agencies with jurisdictional responsibilities in
emergency management to address the special needs
                                                                   The specific priorities are:
of remote and vulnerable Indigenous communities, and
assist the building of community capacity in relation to           Priority 1—Decision-making structures in remote
emergency management.                                                           Indigenous communities for emergency
The following section provides a description of each
priority, its related goals and set of guiding actions,            Priority 2— Communication and engagement with
and an illustration of a ‘good practice example’ initiative                     remote Indigenous communities on
or action to demonstrate a goal or guiding action.                              emergency management
Comments from the consultations relating to each
                                                                   Priority 3— Community emergency management
priority are attached in Annex A.
                                                                                planning for remote Indigenous communities

                                                                   Priority 4— Community resourcing for emergency
                                                                                management in remote Indigenous

                                                                   Priority 5— Coordinated and cooperative approach
                                                                                to emergency management in remote
                                                                                Indigenous communities

                                                                   Priority 6—Empowering Indigenous people through
                                                                                emergency management training

                                                                   Priority 7—Education of Indigenous people

4.1 Priority 1—Decision-                                         Clarification of roles and responsibilities
    making structures in remote                                  • Present information to the Community Councils
    Indigenous communities for                                     and governance structures about the roles and
    emergency management                                           responsibilities of government agencies and service
                                                                   providers and how these relate to emergency
Indigenous communities have a decision-making
                                                                   management in Indigenous communities.
structure that consists of a Community Council and/or
Executive Committee. It also must be recognized that             Training and resources
Indigenous Communities are unique in that all decisions
are made collectively and the Elders and Traditional             • Ensure Community Councils and governance

Owners have a significant role in this process. This must          structures of Indigenous communities are

be recognised and accepted as the appropriate protocol             appropriately resourced and adequately trained in

for consultation relating to emergency management.                 emergency management.

Indigenous communities and their decision-making                 Community visits
structures are important for the implementation of
                                                                 • Arrange with the Community Council and governance
the New arrangements in Indigenous affairs and the
                                                                   structures any visits to Indigenous communities by
National framework of principles for delivering services
                                                                   external government agencies and service providers
to Indigenous Australians, endorsed by COAG in June
                                                                   regarding emergency management.
2004. They will be required to demonstrate strong
leadership and deliver on their shared responsibilities          Partnerships
and mutual obligations with government agencies and
                                                                 • Negotiate with the Community Council and
service providers.
                                                                   governance structures for mutual support
Guiding actions                                                    arrangements and agreements between Indigenous
                                                                   communities, government agencies and service
Ownership of decisions                                             providers for emergency management.

• Ownership of decisions regarding emergency
                                                                 Commitment and accountability
   management in Indigenous communities is held
   by Community Councils and other governance                    • Responsible and accountable governance is
   structures.                                                     required for emergency management in Indigenous
                                                                   communities, and appropriate models from other
                                                                   communities are to be considered and adopted by
                                                                   Community Councils and governance structures.

G O O D       P R A C T I C E          E X A M P L E

Partnerships Queensland
Improving social, health and economic outcomes for
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a priority for
the Queensland Government. A significant commitment
to achieving this has been demonstrated throughout
the development of a complete policy package, titled
Partnerships Queensland: Future directions framework for
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy in Queensland
2005 - 10. This framework outlines an agenda for immediate
and sustained action until 2010 towards achieving the
Partnerships Queensland vision for Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Queenslanders to have their cultures affirmed,
heritage sustained and the same prospects for health,
prosperity and quality of life as other Queenslanders.
                                                                      4.2      Priority 2—Communication
Partnerships Queensland is an Australian first. It                              and engagement with
establishes a new way of doing business with Aboriginal                        remote Indigenous
and Torres Strait Islander people and communities through
                                                                               communities in emergency
collaboration and partnerships at the local, regional and
State levels. Four key goals—strong families, strong cultures;
safe places; healthy living; and skilled and prosperous people        The development of positive working relationships by
and communities—provide a focus for the Government’s                  agencies involved in emergency management with key
action in a single, overarching framework. It is supported            leaders and people in remote Indigenous communities is
by a budget strategy, a performance framework, a blueprint            a fundamental requirement for effective and productive
for action, a State-wide communication strategy and strict            communications and engagement.
governance arrangements.                                              To ensure this happens, it is vital that communication
The Queensland Department of Emergency Services has                   and engagement about emergency management
put Partnerships Queensland into operation through a                  with Indigenous people in remote communities uses
range of initiatives, notably through the establishment               language and processes that are culturally sensitive and
of an Indigenous Coordination Unit (ICU). The ICU                     appropriate, user-friendly, clear in nature and purpose,
undertakes whole-of-department State-wide planning in                 and adhere to cultural protocols.
relation to service delivery and community safety initiatives
                                                                      Guiding actions
for Indigenous communities, particularly those in rural and
remote locations. The ICU is evidence of the commitment               Effective engagement
of the Department to enhancing safety in Indigenous
                                                                      • In communications with Indigenous people in
communities. The unit comprises individuals with strong
                                                                         remote communities, demonstrate positive attitudes,
operational expertise, significant cultural knowledge and a
                                                                         different and flexible approaches, understanding of
background of working in Indigenous communities. The unit
                                                                         the diversity of groups, cultural issues, and language
has the task of coordinating resources from a multi-service
                                                                         barriers, and respect for cultural protocols and
perspective and collaborating with relevant government
                                                                         governance structures.
agencies, non-government organisations, and Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander communities to ensure community            • Consult with remote Indigenous Community Councils
needs and priorities are met in relation to community                    and governance structures about community needs
safety. The unit also provides strategic advice in relation to           relating to emergencies, community safety and
Indigenous affairs to the Director-General and Executive                 emergency management, and give feedback to
Management Team, to regional planning and coordination                   communities about consultations.
teams and staff across the department, and to other agencies
as appropriate.

                                                                G O O D       P R A C T I C E         E X A M P L E S

                                                                Guide to working with Aboriginal
                                                                and Torres Strait Islander communities
                                                                The Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
                                                                Islander Policy and the Department of Communities have
                                                                produced Engaging Queenslanders: Introduction to working
                                                                with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
                                                                This guide aims to improve engagement between
                                                                government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
                                                                people. It provides historical and contextual information
                                                                to better inform government officers in their engagement
                                                                practices. Importantly, it highlights the responsibility of
                                                                all government officers in building reciprocal relationships
                                                                with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders
• Ensure involvement of all appropriate Indigenous              and the responsibility to fully consider and respect the
   stakeholders of remote communities and at regional           individual needs and aspirations of communities. The guide
   level in consultations and communications relating to
                                                                also highlights the need for government officers to operate in
                                                                coordination to avoid duplication and waste, and to improve
   emergency management.
                                                                pathways through complex government systems.
• Provide information on all related emergency
   management matters to remote Indigenous                      FESA Framework for engaging
   communities, including funding information.                  remote Indigenous communities
                                                                (Western Australia)
Appropriate relationships                                       The Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA)
• Develop and maintain positive and meaningful                  of Western Australia has published the Framework for
   relationships with remote Indigenous communities
                                                                engaging remote Indigenous communities. The purpose of the
                                                                framework is to support FESA’s vision of a safer community
   to promote and assist the building of emergency
                                                                by embracing a strengths-based, capacity-building
   management capacity in the communities.
                                                                approach when working with Indigenous communities. It
Database of community contacts                                  is underpinned by critical engagement principles including
                                                                the need to go to the community, establish relationships,
• Establish a database of community contacts, and               build trust, work with all aspects of the community (which
   obtain information on the community calendar of              includes Elders, Men, Women and Young, as well as service
   events meetings and arrange meetings to suit the             providers) to seek a collective commitment and, most
   community.                                                   importantly, recognise community self-determination.
                                                                The framework holds that engagement goes further than
4.3       Priority 3—Community                                  participation and involvement. It conveys the idea that
          emergency management                                  people’s attention is occupied by an issue sufficiently
          planning for remote                                   important to demand their attention, and their efforts are
          Indigenous communities                                focused on the matter at hand. It implies a commitment to
                                                                deeds, not only words.
The development and preparation of a Community
emergency management plan is crucial for community              FESA works with a range of people across communities,
safety in remote Indigenous communities. To achieve
                                                                including those that are most vulnerable to natural hazards.
                                                                The framework encompasses all emergency services
this, the plan needs to be in a user-friendly format
                                                                functions, including the state emergency management
setting out actions for PPRR in emergencies. It should
                                                                arrangements, policies, emergency risk management process,
also clarify the roles and responsibilities of relevant
                                                                training, program development, and funding arrangements
community people (including residents and visitors) and         for the prevention of, preparedness for, response to and
external government agencies and service providers.             recovery from natural hazards.

                                                                G O O D       P R A C T I C E         E X A M P L E S

                                                                Community planning
                                                                (Northern Territory)
                                                                The balance of cultural and traditional beliefs with modern
                                                                non-Indigenous concepts of town planning is often a difficult
                                                                exercise in remote Indigenous communities. After two
                                                                devastating floods at Wugularr (Beswick) in the Northern
                                                                Territory, the community was prepared to work with
It is essential that the plan is determined and co-
                                                                relevant government departments and agencies involved in
signed by the community in partnership with agencies
                                                                emergency management and community development to find
involved in emergency management. The plan needs
                                                                a workable solution. As a result of ongoing consultations,
to be owned by the community and well understood
                                                                the traditional owners were able to come to an informed
and promoted by community leaders and governance
                                                                strategic decision based on the evidence presented; this was
                                                                to move the community to higher ground. The decision
Guiding actions                                                 in itself appears obvious, but the community had to deal
                                                                with enormous cultural considerations because the only
Community-based planning                                        high ground in proximity was considered sacred. The
                                                                community could have chosen to stay and continue to
• Agencies are involved in emergency management
                                                                abdicate responsibility for evacuation and recovery to
   work with remote Indigenous communities.
                                                                governments, if future flooding occurred. The decision to
• Identify priorities and needs and allocate resources          instigate prevention measures by moving to higher ground
   accordingly.                                                 overrode cultural considerations; this was an important and
• Ensure town planning in remote Indigenous                     significant step forward in future emergency planning for
   communities takes into account emergency                     that community.
   management issues.
                                                                Community Emergency Risk Management
• Ensure the Community emergency management plan                Plans (South Australia)
   is regularly monitored and reviewed.                         Community Emergency Risk Management Plans for the
                                                                Nepabunna and Dunjiba Community Councils in South
Indigenous traditional knowledge and
experience                                                      Australia were developed in partnership between and
                                                                within the councils and SAFECOM, the emergency services
• Ensure the Community emergency management plan                organisation. In the process, the community language, beliefs
   incorporates the traditional knowledge and experience        and culture were recognised and respected and the councils
   of local Indigenous Elders and people about the              were consulted on aspects of emergency management.
   environment, signs indicating weather patterns and
   potential emergencies, and ceremonies for protection
   from disasters etc.

4.4      Priority 4—Community                                      Guiding actions
         resourcing for emergency                                  Identify priorities and needs
         management in remote
         Indigenous communities                                    • Through effective community engagement and
                                                                     government decision-making, identify resource
It is essential that there is government commitment
                                                                     priorities and needs.
to address the access, human, financial and physical
resources impacting on effective emergency                         Resourcing
management in remote Indigenous communities. To
                                                                   • Identify specific funds for remote Indigenous
achieve this, government commitment and resources
                                                                     communities for sustainable emergency management
must be proportionately directed and quarantined relative
                                                                     in communities, including funding for infrastructure
to the matters pertaining to emergency management in
                                                                     and essential services, and education, training and
remote Indigenous communities. Where viable, funding
                                                                     possible employment of Indigenous people.
agency protocols should have the flexibility to incorporate
joint Commonwealth, State and Territory funding                    • Provide information to remote Indigenous
initiatives. This will provide support and assistance to             communities on funding opportunities for emergency
ensure there is adequate and appropriate community                   management and assist the development of
infrastructure and planning for emergency management.                proposals and applications.

It is important that the PPRR philosophy contained within          • Ensure new guidelines and application procedures for
emergency management is a component of community                     emergency management funding are in user-friendly
development for Indigenous communities and that this                 formats to cater for numeracy and literacy skills of
philosophy is included in the action plans of all agencies.          Indigenous people in remote communities, and use
                                                                     interpreters/language where appropriate.

                                                                   • Be aware of the low capacity of remote Indigenous
                                                                     communities to pay for services for emergency

                                                                   • Ensure that specific funding for Indigenous
                                                                     emergency management programs is made available
                                                                     to communities, and that the funding amounts
                                                                     available within those programs is needs-based and
                                                                     commensurate to those funds within mainstream
                                                                     funding programs.

G O O D       P R A C T I C E           E X A M P L E S

Indigenous Australian Service Delivery
Enhancement Package (Queensland)
The Indigenous Australian Service Delivery Enhancement
Package was initiated by the Queensland Department of
Emergency Services (DES) in 2002. The package provides
significant funding to improve services and enhance
community safety for Indigenous communities and
individuals. Through the package, DES funds and delivers a
range of initiatives that improve the safety and wellbeing of
Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders.
The package provides the foundation for DES to engage with
Indigenous Australian communities in the development
of flexible models of service delivery. It outlines a range of
specific strategies to enhance employment and training
opportunities for Indigenous people and to assist with
community capacity building in relation to community
safety. Initiatives include recruitment of operational staff and        A well-coordinated preparation phase ensured the
training officers, and the delivery of appropriate community             community’s safety. Regular updates involving all
safety programs, equipment and minor capital works.                     community agencies ensured an efficient transfer of
                                                                        information and a well-coordinated evacuation of ‘at
Resourcing for Community emergency                                      risk’ community members. It also assisted in effecting
recovery (Northern Territory)                                           a sense of ownership, and a calmer and more informed
Governments can financially assist communities through
the recovery process by offering construction/clean-up
refurbishment contracts to local businesses or councils                 The provision of response teams to Kalumburu
where practicable. This was evidenced in the Victoria River             was based on the need to make safe, and restore,
floods of 2001 in the Northern Territory, where government               access while encouraging local ownership. Overall,
contracts to the value of approx $560,000 were awarded to a             the community prepared extensively, responded
local council. This had the two-fold effect of injecting much-          appropriately and participated well in the recovery
needed funds into the community and allowing community
members to feel that they were involved in their own
recovery process.                                                       4.5       Priority 5—Coordinated
Coordinated approach in emergency                                                 and cooperative approach
management (Western Australia)                                                    to emergency management
Kalumburu is a remote community of about 400 people                               in remote Indigenous
located on the banks of the King Edward River in the                              communities
far north of the Kimberley. It is one of the most isolated
                                                                        In accordance with the whole-of-government approach
Indigenous communities in Western Australia and is
                                                                        outlined in the New arrangements in Indigenous affairs,
vulnerable to tropical cyclones, floods, isolation and
                                                                        it is essential for agencies involved in emergency
bushfires. In March 2005, Kalumburu took the full impact of
the Category 4 Severe Tropical Cyclone Ingrid.                          management to undertake planning and delivery in a
                                                                        coordinated and cooperative way. This requires multi-
The high level of communication and consultation with the
                                                                        agency and flexible models of service delivery to meet
community was the most beneficial tool in managing this
                                                                        the needs of communities.
                                                                        Representation of Indigenous people on emergency
Many months beforehand, a community Elder, who was
                                                                        management governance and advisory bodies is critical
also a SES volunteer, was instrumental in having a cyclone
warning system installed in the community. Prior to the                 to achieving this, along with the recognition of the
impact of Tropical Cyclone Ingrid, he kept in regular contact           diversity of remote Indigenous communities and respect
with FESA to discuss community preparations and available               for their culture, languages and lifestyles.
assistance. An Indigenous volunteer with the Kununurra
SES Unit was also deployed to assist the community.

Guiding actions                                                • For Community Councils and governance structures,
                                                                 adopt a coordinated and cooperative approach that
Representation on decision-making                                focuses on the needs of communities and how those
bodies                                                           needs can best be met, rather than focusing on what
• Encourage relevant Indigenous people to become                 services agencies and service providers can provide.
  members on all decision-making bodies at national,
                                                               Identify Government Champions
  State/Territory, regional, and district and community
  level, including advisory and management bodies              • Identify Chief Executive Officer (CEO)-level
  related to emergency services/management for                   Government Champions in each State and Territory
  remote Indigenous groups and communities.                      and in the Australian Government to ensure
                                                                 commitment and better communication across
Recognition of diversity, tradition and                          all jurisdictions for an improved coordinated and
                                                                 cooperative approach to policy development
• Recognise and work with the diversity of remote                and service planning and delivery for emergency
  Indigenous groups and communities, and their                   management in remote Indigenous communities.
  lifestyles, traditions, customs, languages and
  protocols.                                                   Formal agreements

• Respect the traditional values and knowledge systems         • State and Territory agencies involved in emergency

  that exist within many remote Indigenous communities           management, in partnership with relevant Australian

  and include them within the context of emergency               Government agencies and local government, are to

  services and management in these communities.                  work with remote Indigenous communities to develop
                                                                 shared responsibility agreements for emergency
• Undertake cultural-awareness training on Indigenous            management. These agreements should identify
  cultures and groups, including Aboriginal and Torres           community priorities for emergency management and
  Strait Islander peoples.                                       prescribe the responsibilities and commitment of all
                                                                 parties to address those priorities.
Coordinated and cooperative approach
                                                               • The agreements should include, where relevant,
• Ensure commitment and accountability at all levels of
                                                                 agreed State-based and cross-border recovery
                                                                 arrangements between agencies for emergency
• Adopt a flexible approach to service delivery.                 management.

G O O D      P R A C T I C E         E X A M P L E

Government Champions and Negotiation
Tables (Queensland)
Government Champions are CEOs (directors-general) of
Queensland Government agencies who are assigned to
remote Indigenous communities to support communities
in planning and delivering community-specific services,
programs and initiatives. Government Champions enter
into a partnership with communities to develop creative            4.6 Priority 6—Empowering
solutions to local issues, through enhancing communication         Indigenous people through
and collaboration across all levels of government and by           Emergency Management
reducing red tape. Key functions of Champions include              Training
personal visits to their communities to develop effective
                                                                   Training of Indigenous people in emergency
and positive relationships with community leaders and
                                                                   management is fundamental to improving safety in
community stakeholders, and becoming familiar with the
                                                                   remote Indigenous communities in a sustainable way
social, cultural and historical aspects of the communities
                                                                   and to developing positive relationships between service
and the agreed outcomes and opportunities to be achieved in
                                                                   providers and communities. It also demonstrates a
partnership with the communities. Another key function of
                                                                   commitment by emergency management agencies
Champions is to assist communities in their communications
                                                                   and related agencies to assist the empowerment
and negotiations with other government agencies during
                                                                   of Indigenous people and to build the capacity of
Negotiation Tables.
                                                                   communities to plan and implement actions.
Negotiation Tables are an effective method used in
                                                                   Indigenous people should also be encouraged to be
Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
                                                                   involved in the development and delivery of emergency
communities to resolve priority issues at the local level.
                                                                   management education and awareness programs in
The Negotiation Table process involves a sustained
                                                                   their local communities. Employment opportunities for
process of consultation, planning and negotiation between
                                                                   Indigenous people should be identified and provided by
community representatives and local, State and Australian
                                                                   emergency management agencies wherever possible.
Government agency representatives. The process is founded
on the principles of reciprocity and mutual responsibility         Guiding actions
and accountability for identifying and resolving issues.
Government Champions assist and lead this process.                 Resourcing training
                                                                   • Identify and provide funding for training of Indigenous
                                                                     people in emergency management and, where
                                                                     possible, provide employment opportunities.

                                                                   • Provide ongoing training for Indigenous people,
                                                                     supported by adequate and appropriate resources,
                                                                     for emergency management.

                                                                 G O O D      P R A C T I C E         E X A M P L E

                                                                 Emergency Risk Management
                                                                 Training Program for Isolated and
                                                                 Remote Indigenous Communities
                                                                 (Western Australia)
                                                                 FESA, Western Australia, has developed an Emergency
                                                                 Risk Management Training Program for use in isolated and
                                                                 remote Indigenous communities in accordance with AS/NZS
Delivery of training                                             4360:1999. It is a community-centred approach to education
• Ensure that training programs in emergency                     and training in emergency risk management processes in
  management for Indigenous people are delivered by              these communities.
  Indigenous people and/or in conjunction with non-              The program is designed for delivery to key Indigenous
  Indigenous people who have the required technical              members of the community governance structures and
  knowledge and experience.                                      service providers, as well as residents who have leadership
• Ensure training and employment in emergency                    roles in the community. These include members of the
  management for Indigenous people are strengths-                Community Council, community workers, and employees of
  based and recognise the existing skills, knowledge             government agencies and other service providers located in
  and experience of Indigenous people.                           the community.

• Provide opportunities for Indigenous people to be              The purpose of the program is to promote knowledge and
  trained as facilitators in the delivery of emergency           understanding of the importance and processes of emergency
  management education and awareness programs.                   risk management, and to assist Indigenous people to use
                                                                 this knowledge and understanding as a basis for relating and
• Ensure training for Indigenous people in emergency
                                                                 working more effectively with FESA employees to establish
  management includes leadership for capacity building
                                                                 appropriate arrangements for community-centred emergency
  and, where possible, provides a path to employment
                                                                 risk management.
  in emergency management agencies and other
  government agencies.

• Provide training in emergency management that is
  customised, practical, relevant, culturally appropriate
  and sensitive, and meets the needs of Indigenous
  people in remote communities.

• Provide training programs in emergency management
  for CDEP workers in remote Indigenous communities.

• Provide training for Indigenous people to obtain
  relevant licences and permits to operate emergency
  management apparatus, equipment and machinery.

                                                                     • Ensure education on emergency management is
                                                                       considered as part of school curriculum.

                                                                     Resource materials
                                                                     • Ensure Community Safety Education kits are
                                                                       developed for remote Indigenous communities in
4.7 Priority 7—Education of                                            partnership with Indigenous people.
Indigenous people
                                                                     • Develop and provide a range of educational
Education of Indigenous people at the community level
is essential to improve their awareness about the risks of
emergencies and emergency management. Education                      • Develop culturally appropriate and user-friendly
programs on emergency management will promote                          educational resources with input from the community.
the importance of effective and sustainable emergency
                                                                     Promotion of programs and resources
management in remote Indigenous communities.
                                                                     • Promote education programs, in particular cultural-
It is crucial that emergency management education
                                                                       awareness training for government agencies and
programs are developed and delivered through a
                                                                       service providers.
coordinated and cooperative approach by all relevant
agencies. The views and knowledge of remote                          • Provide user-friendly emergency management and
Indigenous communities need to be considered and                       community safety messages that can be converted
integrated into any education initiative in a reciprocal way.          into local Indigenous languages by interpreters.

                                                                     • Provide information sessions and workshops on
Guiding actions
                                                                       emergency management through visits to remote
Education and programs                                                 Indigenous communities and at regional forums,
                                                                       conferences, cultural events and expos for Indigenous
• Ensure education programs in emergency
                                                                       people living in and/or working with remote
   management for remote Indigenous communities are
   developed and delivered by Indigenous people and/or
   in conjunction with non-Indigenous people.

• Ensure community awareness and education
   programs on emergency management in remote
   Indigenous communities are provided for all residents
   and groups.

G O O D      P R A C T I C E          E X A M P L E S

Junior Indigenous Community Safety
Program (Queensland)
The Junior Indigenous Community Safety Program is being
delivered by the Queensland DES in targeted primary
schools in remote Indigenous communities. It aims to
establish a strong and positive relationship between local
emergency services personnel and children to inspire them
to want to continue at school and join emergency services,
and to provide them with a range of practical life skills.
Those skills include boat safety, navigation and mapping,
bushcraft, fire safety and junior first aid.

Fire safety in Aboriginal communities
(New South Wales)
The New South Wales Fire Brigade’s program for fire safety
in Aboriginal communities aims to:
•       reduce fires and other emergencies within
        Indigenous communities
•       build capacity within Aboriginal communities to
        increase their preparedness for, and resilience to,
        fires and other emergencies, and
•       engage and build relationships with Aboriginal
        communities to assist them in developing programs
        to improve Indigenous housing safety.
Components of the program include:
•       safety promotions through the Indigenous media,
        including the press (for example, Koori Mail, radio
        and television)
•       involvement in a range of Indigenous community
        events, including running displays and giving out
        safety materials and promotional items
•       establishment of six Aboriginal Community Fire
        Units in locations with substantial Indigenous
        communities, and
•       sourcing of traditional Indigenous fire stories that
        assist in communicating respect and understanding
        of fires to younger members of Indigenous

5. Reporting on progress
   and achievements

The fulfilment of the National emergency management             RICAC will coordinate the Australian Government and
strategy for remote Indigenous communities rests in             State and Territory responses.
the cooperative efforts of all levels of government and         The key priorities contained in the strategy form the
Indigenous communities to achieve improved emergency            basis for project identification and planning between
management and community safety outcomes within                 government agencies and communities. Agencies
these communities.                                              will initiate projects through active engagement with
                                                                communities and ratify these where necessary with co-
Progress in implementing the strategy will be
                                                                signed agreements.
communicated through the reporting framework
described below in order to ensure each government/
                                                                5.2 Reporting
agency’s commitment and accountability to the strategy
and to comprehensively report on any initiatives                The Australian Government, each State and Territory,
                                                                and the Australian Local Government Association will
                                                                develop an implementation plan including performance
Projects and initiatives conducted under the auspice of         measures that address each of the seven priorities.
this strategy should commence with a view that results
                                                                State and Territory agencies will formulate progress
can be measured. A two-way reporting process should             reports in conjunction with communities on an annual
satisfy both Indigenous people and government that              basis, with reports provided to RICAC.
improvement has taken place.
                                                                RICAC will raise papers for AEMC consideration and
                                                                present them through the Emergency Management
5.1 Agency responsibilities                                     Australia Secretariat. The recommendations contained
AEMC supports A/APMC and provides national                      in the papers will guide AEMC action and, where the
leadership and strategic direction on emergency                 recommendations are of a sufficiently strategic nature,
management.                                                     AEMC will forward them to A/APMC for consideration.

AEMC oversees the cross-jurisdictional approach to
implementation of the COAG Report on natural disasters
                                                                5.3 Timing
in Australia. It liaises and consults with a number of          Timing of reporting will be aligned with that of the COAG
committees that have responsibility for various aspects         reporting process.
of emergency management. AEMC reporting on
                                                                The formal reporting process will commence in 2007.
implementation of this strategy aligns with reporting on
                                                                The first consolidated report will form a baseline
COAG recommendations to improve resilience in remote
                                                                upon which to report ongoing progress. Reported
Indigenous communities. AEMC will provide A/APMC
                                                                improvements will reflect the extent to which emergency
with information on the progress and outcomes of the            management outcomes for remote Indigenous
strategy and propose future directions.
                                                                communities have improved.

                                     Annex A Summary comments
                                     from consultations

Priority 1—Decision-making                                      Priority 2—Communication
structures in remote Indigenous                                 and engagement with remote
communities for emergency                                       Indigenous communities in
management                                                      emergency management
• Government representatives need to address councils           • Communication needs to be directly with
  on their roles/responsibilities.                                communities.

• We need good basic governance structures plus                 • Communication and engagement is a two-way
  capacity-building for communities.                              process.

• Delegate authority for emergency management to                • Communication is about getting together and talking.
  Indigenous communities and council.
                                                                • Communication is information coming in and going out.
• Location of decision-making—needs to be in
                                                                • Communication can include video conferencing.
                                                                • There was no engagement of service providers with
• Consider language barriers, different groups, cultural
                                                                  community about significant cultural issues.
  issues and protocols.
                                                                • Learn within the community, for example, culturally
• Develop community profile and emergency services
                                                                  sensitive processes, knowledge systems and
                                                                  emotional effects of emergencies.
• Community need to develop understanding of
  government agencies and services and vice-versa.              Priority 3—Community
• Discussion of issues by Indigenous people can occur
                                                                emergency management
  in a variety of ways.
                                                                planning for remote Indigenous
• There needs to be Indigenous participation
  in discussion about emergency services and                    • Planning needs to involve communities, emergency

  agreements.                                                     services, local councils/shires, health services and
                                                                  relevant government agencies.
• Have a physical presence in communities—get out
  to each community to discuss issues of importance.            • Community emergency management plan needs to

  Visits could be scheduled to coincide with monthly              be user-friendly and involve all government agencies

  Community Working Party meetings.                               and service providers and consultation with all groups
                                                                  in a two-way flow.

• The emergency management plan should include                       • Involvement of Community Council, Indigenous
   standard operation procedures.                                      corporations, government agencies, service providers,
                                                                       workers, stations, and outstations.
• Use models from other communities and cultural and
   local knowledge.                                                  • Strategic planning at local community level—
                                                                       supported and accepted by government agencies
• Emergency Management Plan or Action Plan needs to
   be monitored and reviewed regularly.
                                                                     Priority 4—Community
• Community emergency management plan needs to                       resourcing for emergency
   be developed with involvement of Local Emergency                  management in remote
   Management Committee for assisting with the plan
                                                                     Indigenous communities
   and consistency.
                                                                     • We need fire equipment and appliances of the
• Policies of government agencies need to be cognisant
                                                                       required standard and standard safety gear for
   of community needs and expectations.
                                                                       appropriate protection.
• Emergency management plan needs to be developed
                                                                     • There should be a siren to notify community about an
   by council, administration and service providers and
   owned by the community. It should include local
   Indigenous cultural issues, kinship relationships, and            • Priorities include improved road access (to all-
   knowledge and experience.                                           weather at a minimum), better health services and
• There should be a Community Layout Plan including
   people in the community, infrastructure, environmental            • There needs to be capacity building in the community.
   issues, response systems needed, equipment and
                                                                     • Infrastructure needs to be up to required standards,
   vehicles, supplies, shelter and accommodation,
                                                                       for example, airport in relative location.
   replacement matters and funding.
                                                                     • We need proper equipment like generators for power
• The plan should include links between big and
                                                                       and trucks with pumps, medical emergency plan and
   small communities, roles and responsibilities, risk
                                                                       equipment, and good communication systems like
   assessment strategies, education, induction and
                                                                       satellite phone and two-way radios.
   training, communication and warning response.
                                                                     • Resources could be provided by local fire/bush fire
• As the reserve is Lands Council land, it does not fall
                                                                       brigades, shires, with funding assistance from relevant
   into council’s jurisdiction, detailed action plan needs to
                                                                       government agencies.
   be put in place with responsibilities and stakeholders
   clearly identified.

• Community was built in wrong place—lack of proper             • Establishment of support networks for people in
  town planning.                                                  remote Indigenous communities, through Department
                                                                  of Aboriginal (Indigenous) Affairs and involve
• Lack of information about insurance, which led to loss
                                                                  government agencies and organisations.
  of personal effects and contents of home that had
  emotional effects.                                            • Cultural awareness training for emergency services
• Island communities need SES vessel with trailer and
  vehicle, equipment and insurance.                             • Through consultation with individual communities/
                                                                  Community Working Parties Shared Responsibility
• Simulated emergency exercise on site and debriefing
                                                                  Agreements can be developed to include all tiers of
  remote communities.
                                                                  government through the COAG process.
• Funding for PPRR—user-friendly, simple application/
  outcome based/targeted, not bureaucratic.                     Priority 6—Empowering
                                                                Indigenous people through
Priority 5—Coordinated and                                      Emergency Management
cooperative approach to                                         Training
emergency management in
                                                                • There needs to be consistent training appropriate to
remote Indigenous communities
                                                                  local community.
• There needs to be a consistent approach to
                                                                • We need employment and permanent jobs in the
  emergency management in remote Indigenous
  communities by all government agencies and service
  providers.                                                    • Training needs to include recognition of prior learning
                                                                  and skills.
• There should be involvement of Indigenous people in
  board structures for emergency management.                    • Delivery of programs needs to be by Indigenous
• Emergency management for remote Indigenous
  communities should be a standing agenda item for              • Funding and training for community coordinators.
  emergency services managers’ meetings.
                                                                • Local person to be trained as a counsellor as too
• CEOs of emergency services provide updates to                   many people walking around with post-traumatic
  service providers and lead agencies.                            stress.

• Indigenous person from remote Torres Strait Islands           • SES members and volunteers need training that uses
  community must be on RICAC.                                     their local knowledge and experience.

• Training for chemical use, first aid and emergency             • Culturally-appropriate resources can be developed by
  services.                                                        community.

• Training on risk management assessment and                     • Community education—post-cyclone and in school.
                                                                 • Road show on emergency services and management
• Link CDEP to training for emergency services on                  to visit remote Indigenous communities.
  remote Indigenous communities.
                                                                 • Information sessions on emergencies and emergency
• Employ Indigenous workers for community links to                 management by emergency services people.
  emergency management coordination.
                                                                 • Regional forums for remote Indigenous communities
• Accreditation requirements for training programs—                on emergency service and management.
  sometimes a barrier for Indigenous people on remote
                                                                 • Conference for remote Indigenous communities on
                                                                   emergency services and management.
• Training programs in remote communities need to
  take into consideration literacy and numeracy levels of
  Indigenous people.

• Integrated training programs, for example, health
  services/workers in emergency management.

Priority 7—Education of
Indigenous people
• Develop local and real resources that are culturally

• We need community education about fire prevention.

• There should be involvement of schools for making

• Training centre and art program can develop

• Cyclone kits to be made up—train Indigenous Health

                           Shortened forms

A/APMC   Augmented Australasian Police Ministers’ Council

AEMC     Australian Emergency Management Committee

CDEP     Community Development Employment Program

CEO      Chief Executive Officer

COAG     Council of Australian Governments

DES      Department of Emergency Services

FESA     Fire and Emergency Services Authority

ICU      Indigenous Coordination Unit

PPRR     prevention, preparedness, response and recovery

RICAC    Remote Indigenous Communities Advisory Committee

SES      State Emergency Service


In this strategy the following meanings apply to these             by communities and a range of agencies to deal with
terms:                                                             emergency needs, improve the safety and wellbeing
                                                                   of individuals and communities, and to reduce risks
Capacity building refers to the process of building
                                                                   to life, property and the environment. It is defined as
on the strengths or assets of individuals or communities.
                                                                   prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response and
In the case of emergency management, this may include
developing or enhancing the awareness, knowledge and
skills of individuals and communities to identify risks and        Indigenous refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait
priorities and to prevent, prepare for, respond to and             Islander peoples of Australia.
recover from emergencies.
                                                                   Preparedness refers to measures aimed at ensuring
Community Councils refers to any formal                            communities and service providers have the capacity
governance structure within a remote Indigenous                    and resources to respond to and cope with the effects of
community. This term acknowledges the differing                    emergencies.
governance structures that exist across the States and
                                                                   Prevention/Mitigation refers to measures taken in
                                                                   advance to eliminate emergencies or reduce the impact
Community engagement refers to the                                 of emergencies on individuals, the community and the
connections between governments, individuals and                   environment, including any action taken to permanently
communities on a range of issues. It encompasses a                 eliminate or reduce the long-term risk to life, property, the
wide variety of interactions, ranging from information-            environment and function from hazards.
sharing to community consultation and collaborative
                                                                   Recovery refers to measures to support individuals
decision-making, including through the involvement of
                                                                   and communities impacted by emergencies in the
governance processes. Effective engagement implies a
                                                                   reconstruction of infrastructure, the restoration of
commitment to a shared vision.
                                                                   services and the restoration of social, emotional, physical
Community safety refers to a collaborative effort                  and economic wellbeing. It also refers to measures to
by community, government and non-government groups                 return communities to a state of preparedness after an
to build capacity within the community to mitigate the             emergency situation.
effects of emergency or disaster events. It aims to build
                                                                   Response refers to measures to control or limit an
community self-reliance.
                                                                   emergency to reduce its consequences.
Emergency management refers to the plans,
structures and arrangements which are established and
implemented in comprehensive and coordinated ways


Australian Bureau of Statistics 2001, Housing and infrastructure in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
communities, Australia,, ABS, Canberra.

Australian National Audit Office 2000, Commonwealth emergency management arrangements, Australian
Audit Office, Canberra.

Council of Australian Governments (COAG) 2004, Natural disasters in Australia: Reforming mitigation, relief and
recovery arrangements, Department of Transport and Regional Services, Canberra

New arrangements in Indigenous affairs, 2004 OIPC, Retrieved June 1, 2006,
Available at:

‘COAG: National framework of principles for delivering services to Indigenous Australians’ in Indigenous affairs
arrangements, 2004 OIPC, Retrieved June 1, 2006,
Available at:

                                              Photographs and other images sourced courtesy of
Emergency Management Australia, Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia and the Queensland Department of Emergency Services.

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