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 and diverse, broadly affecting communities and the lifelines on which they depend, a more comprehensive model has evolved.
As defined in the Emergency Management Act 2013, consequence management means “the coordination of agencies, including agencies who engage the skills and services of non-government organisations, which are responsible for managing or regulating services or infrastructure which is, or may be, affected by a major emergency.”
Consequence management occurs through the consideration of the wider ramifications of an emergency event. This approach moves the focus from a specific hazard, such as a fire or flood, to broader consequences affecting a community, regardless of hazard source.
For example, a fuel shortage 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 is organised around nine principles. Consequence management:
- is everyone’s responsibility
- establishes and sustains value
- uses existing structures and systems
- engages with key agencies and departments
- uses the best available data and intelligence
- predominantly a coordination function
- is a vital component of planning
- informs decision making
- is dynamic, iterative and responsive to change.