Consequence management

Despite how resilient a community is to shocks and stresses or how well prepared it is for emergencies, events will occur that exceed a community’s levels of resilience and preparedness.

Emergency management in Australia has traditionally been informed by hazards and risks.  However, such an approach relies on systems and environments that are relatively stable and predictable.  As the world becomes less predictable and emergencies become more complex, emergency management needs to adopt a more sophisticated approach.

The traditional and well established “Three Cs” of emergency response – Command, Control and Coordination – are embedded in Victoria’s emergency management legislation and arrangements. 

As emergency events become increasingly more frequent, diverse and broadly affecting communities and the lifelines upon which they depend, a more comprehensive model has evolved. 

The “Six Cs” model builds on the foundation of Command, Control and Coordination, and supplements it with Consequence, Communication, and Community connection. Including these into a well-established and tested emergency management system is the next step in ensuring that the community is central to everything we do in emergency management. 

The objective of consequence management is to minimise the adverse consequences to users of services or infrastructure caused by the interruption to those services or infrastructure as a result of a major emergency.

Consequence in the emergency management context is considered to be the “change in circumstances, planned or otherwise, experienced by a community or its members as a result of an event and its subsequent management”.

A consequence approach moves the focus from a specific hazard, such as fire or flood, to broader consequences which may affect a community, regardless of hazard source.  For example, a shortage of liquid fuels resulting from a supply chain disruption may be caused by flood, windstorm, pandemic or fire. While the management of the individual hazard may differ, the consequence for the community requires a coordinated response across agencies to re-establish fuel supplies, regardless of the event causing the disruption.

Consequence management coupled with resilience focuses on:

  • Building community safety and resilience prior to an event occurring
  • Managing the effects of an emergency event regardless of cause or expected likelihood
  • Mitigating an emergency’s negative community impact
  • Exploiting opportunities for rapid recovery
  • Supporting resilient recovery, and
  • Post-recovery and, where appropriate, building community resilience through revitalisation.

Consequence management aims to deliver the best possible outcome for the community through:

  1. Consequence thinking: This comprises exploring what may happen, how consequences may play out in the short, medium and long term, and the possible effectiveness of existing emergency management arrangements in addressing identified consequences. 
  2. Consequence management strategy development: The development of response, relief and recovery, and strategic communications strategy.
  3. Communications, readiness, operations, and relief and recovery plans: Planning staff develop community focussed response, relief and recovery, and strategic communications plans.
  4. Plan implementation:  Regions and agencies implement state plans.
  5. Feedback: Used to review and update plans to meet community needs.

Victoria has been moving towards this approach over a number of years and is continuing to mature and apply this as part of its approach to community focussed emergency management.