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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 November 2021) . . Page.. 3188 ..

communities affected by the emergency; and advise SEMSOG and the minister on recovery matters for the emergency.

Another important change made by the bill is an amendment to the objects of the act to require that emergency management in the territory develops community resilience to emergencies. It is an unfortunate reality that, despite the best emergency planning or the efforts of our dedicated emergency services personnel, our community will continue to be exposed to hazards that may impact life, property or the environment.

Community resilience refers to the capability of communities to respond positively to a crisis, and the ability of a community to adapt to pressures and transform itself in a way which makes it more sustainable into the future. Community resilience is critical in minimising the effect of disasters and contributes to a quicker, more effective response.

This bill ensures that the territory’s emergency management framework promotes and develops community resilience across the spectrum of emergency management activities.

As Minister for Police and Emergency Services, I have long benefited from the advice of the ACT Bushfire Council. The members of that council have been drawn from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and possess a broad range of qualifications and expertise. Territorians are all too aware of the dangers posed by bushfires. However, the territory faces a range of other natural hazards, such as heatwaves, severe storms and flash floods.

Reflecting on the range of hazards facing Canberrans, this bill transitions the ACT Bushfire Council into the ACT multi-hazard advisory council for the ACT. This will allow the minister and the Emergency Services Agency to gain advice, perspective and understandings from a range of experts and community representatives across a range of hazards.

Each current member of the Bushfire Council has automatically been deemed to be a member of the new multi-hazard advisory council. Additional members with expertise in a range of natural hazards will be appointed in the near future to complement the existing membership. The bill also modernises the governance arrangements for the advisory council by removing a number of administrative provisions that are more properly dealt with in the council’s terms of reference.

Another amendment made by this bill is to create a power to appoint an Assistant Emergency Services Commissioner. Members of this Assembly would agree that the ACT’s Emergency Services Commissioner, currently Georgeina Whelan, plays a vital role in ensuring that our community is safe and protected. This amendment provides support for the commissioner, by allowing an Assistant Emergency Services Commissioner to be appointed. The assistant commissioner would support the commissioner in the exercise of many functions, and act as commissioner in their absence. This change will support and enhance the Emergency Services Agency’s ability to plan for and respond to emergencies.

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