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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 November 2021) . . Page.. 3896 ..

This appointment of a recovery coordinator ensures the important focus on recovery at all of the right times. The recovery coordinator’s dedicated recovery focus complements the focus of the incident management team on the response operations, and the recovery coordinator will work with the incident controller or emergency controller to elevate the importance of recovery, delivering better outcomes for the ACT community in future emergencies.

The second is that the bill expands the objects of the act to include providing for emergency management that assists in building community resilience. Resilience is the capacity of the community to cope with shocks and keep functioning in much the same way. As a community we are all, to a greater or lesser degree, vulnerable to the effects of hazards, threats or perils. This shared vulnerability reinforces the importance of building resilience across the community, as disasters and emergencies do not discriminate.

It is important to highlight that while this Emergencies Amendment bill recognises that government has a key role in promoting community resilience, all of us have a role to play. One way that Canberrans can do this is through completing a household survival plan, which can be downloaded from the Emergency Services Agency website. This plan not only asks people to think about how to be disaster-proof in their actions and with respect to their property, but gets them to collate the key information they will require in the event they have to leave the house or it is rendered uninhabitable. This simple act of preparing a survival plan will ensure that Canberrans are better able to respond to a disaster as well as to better cope with its consequences. This reflects the increased focus on resilience in emergency management and ensures that future planning and capacity-building factors-in and supports the community.

The third is that this bill transitions the ACT Bushfire Council into a multi-hazard advisory council to advise the minister and Emergency Services Agency on the risks facing the territory across all hazards rather than just bushfires. The territory faces risks from a broad range of hazards, including severe storms, heat events and flash floods. Climate change is also increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events.

The changes made by this bill give the council the flexibility to vary its membership as required to address the changing risks faced by natural hazards. The amendment bill ensures that the Minister and the Emergency Services Agency will benefit from expert advice, across a range of sectors and hazards, to better protect Canberra from those natural hazards. This bill makes a range of other amendments across a number of aspects of the Emergencies Act.

A number of changes have been made to improve public awareness of emergencies. These include requiring that any declaration of a state of alert or state of emergency be notified on social media. A declaration of a total fire ban by the emergency services commissioner will also be required to be notified on social media. These changes reflect the increasing reliance by the community upon social media in emergencies.

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