The Ministerial Guidelines and Emergency Management Act 2013 (EM Act 2013) outline the minimum consultation requirements for emergency management plans.
The EM Act 2013 requires broad consultation and engagement to ensure that all emergency management plans consider and incorporate the needs of communities.
Effective consultation and engagement will ensure a shared understanding of the roles, responsibilities, people, resources, and systems needed for managing emergencies.
The Emergency Management Commissioner (EMC) and Emergency Management Planning Committees must allow enough time in the development of their emergency management plan to ensure:
- the interests, values, and expectations of stakeholders, including community members are understood and considered:
- community members
- Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD)
- other key community groups
- the knowledge and expertise of agencies and technical experts is considered which may include:
- emergency risk management studies
- case study reviews
- there is broad ownership of the emergency management plan, including a shared responsibility for its management, implementation, and review.
In relation to the State Emergency Management Plan (SEMP) and Regional Emergency Management Plan (REMP), department heads are required to consult with any agency that has a role or responsibility in an emergency management plan, as necessary. In addition, Part 6A of the EM Act 2013 requires ‘relevant departments’ to consult with operators of vital critical infrastructure and responsible entities (s74B), where it is considered appropriate.
These provisions recognise that department heads are best placed to decide which of their portfolio agencies and stakeholders should be considered in relation to emergency management planning and the subsequent development of respective plans and/or sub plans.
There are minor differences in the minimum consultation requirements at each level of planning.
The intent of the legislation is that preparers of emergency management plans will engage with all relevant stakeholders. This includes Regional Emergency Management Planning Committees (REMPCs) and Municipal Management Planning Committees (MEMPCs) where appropriate.
State Emergency Management Plan
A list of the minimum required consultation agencies is supported by section 60AF of the EM Act 2013:
- Emergency Management Commissioner
- Department of Justice and Community Safety
- Department of Energy, Environment, and Climate Action
- Department of Health
- Department of Families, Fairness and Housing
- Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions
- Department of Transport and Planning
- Department of Education
- Victoria Police
- Ambulance Victoria
- Country Fire Authority
- Victoria State Emergency Service
- Fire Rescue Victoria
- Department of Premier and Cabinet
- Department of Treasury and Finance
- Department of Government Services
- Municipal Association Victoria.
Additionally, the preparer of the plan may consult:
- any other sector of the community that is considered appropriate
- any Regional Emergency Management Planning Committee.
The accepted practice is to provide:
- the plan or subplan to the department secretary or agency head
- a carbon copy to the relevant State Emergency Management Planning Committee member.
The Department Head of each Department must consult:
- any agency that the Department Head considers appropriate and that has a role or responsibility under the proposed plan
- any responsible entity that the Department considers appropriate.
Regional Emergency Management Plan
In addition to the consultation and collaboration that occurs within the committee during the development of the plan, a list of the minimum required consultation agencies is supported by section 60AFA of the EM Act 2013:
- Municipal Emergency Management Planning Committees within its region
- any other sector of the community that the REMPC considers appropriate.
While the REMPC is preparing a REMP :
- (a) the Department Head of each Department must consult any agency that the Department Head considers appropriate and that has a role or responsibility under the proposed regional emergency management plan
- (b) each relevant Department (within the meaning of section 74B) must consult any responsible entity (within the meaning of section 74B) that the Department considers appropriate.
Municipal Emergency Management Plan
The MEMPC, not the municipal council, is responsible for consultation of the Municipal Emergency Management Plan.
A list of the minimum required consultation agencies is supported by section 60AFB of the EM Act 2013:
- any other sector of the community that the MEMPC considers appropriate (consideration should be given to targeted consultation with vulnerable groups, or sectors of the community that may be more heavily impacted during an emergency)
- must have regard to any relevant Community Emergency Management Plan that is prepared wholly or partly in relation to the relevant municipal district
- may consult any body, department, or other agency that the MEMPC considers appropriate.