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Disaster Management Guideline

5 Response

5.1 Response arrangements

The Act defines disaster response as the taking of appropriate measures to respond to an event, including action taken and measures planned in anticipation of, during, and immediately after an event to ensure that its effects are minimised and that persons affected by the event are given immediate relief and support.

The aim of response operations is to save lives, protect property and make an affected area safe. Accordingly, response is the operationalisation and implementation of plans and processes, and the organisation of activities to respond to an event and its aftermath.  

5.1.1 Disaster operations

Disaster response and disaster recovery are key components of disaster operations.

Disaster operations is defined in section 15 of the Act as activities undertaken before, during or after an event happens to help reduce loss of human life, illness or injury to humans, property loss or damage, or damage to the environment, including, for example, activities to mitigate the adverse effects of the event.

The correlation between disaster response and recovery phases, levels of activation and stages of operations is illustrated below in Figure 5.1.

In accordance with section 4A of the Act, local governments are primarily responsible for responding to disaster events in their LGA with district and state levels providing appropriate resources and support. Disaster recovery

The need for recovery may arise from a range of disaster events, including natural and non-natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, bushfires, acts of terrorism and major health emergencies, as well as animal and plant diseases. Chapter 6: Recovery details this phase of disaster management.



Figure 5.1 The above Diagram shows the correlation between disaster response and recovery phases, levels of activation and stages of operations during a disaster operation.

 5.2 Activations and triggers of response arrangements

While local governments are primarily responsible for managing events in their area, the early and pre-emptive activation of support and resources from district and state levels ensures an integrated, active and effective response to disaster affected communities. This is particularly relevant for hazard specific arrangements and large scale disasters which may overwhelm local resources.

Activation of response arrangements occurs when there is a need to:

  • monitor potential hazards or disaster operations

  • support or coordinate disaster operations being conducted by a designated lead agency

  • coordinate resources in support of disaster and recovery operations at local or district level

  • coordinate state-wide disaster response and recovery activities.

Activation does not necessarily mean disaster management groups must be convened but may entail providing information to members of those groups about the risks associated with a pending hazard impact.

The decision to activate disaster management arrangements, including the disaster management groups and/or disaster coordination centres, depends on multiple factors including the perceived level of impact to the community.

Activation of response arrangements should occur in accordance with the activation processes detailed in the relevant plan.

5.2.1 Activation of local response

Timely activation of the LDMG is critical for an effective response to a disaster event. The decision to activate depends on several factors including the perceived level of impact to the community.

5.2.2 Activation of district response

The DDC is responsible for activating the DDMG. This would generally occur following consultation with one or more of the following:

  • the Chairperson of an affected LDMG

  • a member of the DDMG

  • the Chairperson of the QDMC.

The DDC should determine when, and to what extent, the DDMG should activate and may bypass initial levels of activation where appropriate to the event.

The activation of the DDMG does not rely or depend on the declaration of a disaster situation or the activation of disaster financial assistance arrangements.

For more information regarding declared disaster situations refer to section 5.5 of this chapter

5.2.3 Activation of state response

Activations may escalate up from an LDMG through Queensland's disaster management arrangements (e.g. where the LDMG requires additional resources and support) and also escalate down from the QDMC where the disaster event has a broader implication across the state (e.g. cyclone impact zone from Cairns to Rockhampton or flooding from a cyclone impacting majority of the state).

The activation of the QDMC does not rely or depend on the declaration of a disaster situation or the activation of disaster financial assistance arrangements.

5.2.4 Activations of the Australian response

The Department of Home Affairs, through Emergency Management Australia, is the responsible agency for coordinating assistance to states and territories, through the provision of non-financial assistance or defence assistance. Activation of Australian Government non-financial assistance

The Australian Government Disaster Response Plan, known as COMDISPLAN, governs federal non-financial assistance to Australian states and territories in an emergency or disaster.

When the total resources (government, community and commercial) of an affected state or territory cannot reasonably cope with the needs of the disaster or emergency, the nominated official – in Queensland this is the XO, QDMC – can seek non-financial assistance from the Australian Government under this plan.

Provision of this assistance requires authorisation from the Attorney-General or Minister responsible for emergency management.

State and territory governments are responsible for coordinating and planning the response to and recovery from a disaster within their borders. The Australian Government accepts responsibility and prepares plans for providing Australian Government non-financial assistance in response to such requests. Defence assistance to the civil community

Sometimes locally based Australian Government resources may be deployed in support of local authorities for limited periods without the need to activate the COMDISPLAN. This may include the provision of Defence Assistance to the Civil Community (DACC) Category 1, which is activated for a set period under local arrangements.

The principle applied to the provision of emergency DACC is that the Australian Government may make its resources (including defence assets) available in situations where state and territory authorities do not have the capacity or capability to manage a disaster or emergency.

The three categories of DACC assistance utilised within disaster operations are:

  • Category 1 – Local Emergency Assistance

  • Category 2 – Significant Emergency Assistance

  • Category 3 – Emergency Recovery Assistance

RG.1.210 Defence Assistance to the Civil Community(DACC Categories) Reference Guide

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5.3 Hazard Specific Activations

Where a disaster event requires the activation of hazard specific arrangements based on the lead agency's legislated and/or technical capability and authority, the broader disaster management arrangements may be activated to provide coordinated support to the hazard specific arrangements (e.g. electricity emergency, dam safety incident).

For more information regarding lead agency responsibilities refer to the State Disaster Management Plan 2017 Appendix C.

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5.4 Disaster Coordination Centres

The effective management of any disaster or emergency requires strong cooperation, coordination, consultation, collaboration and shared responsibility between individuals, agencies and the community, all committed to showing support, trust and teamwork. Disaster coordination centres ensure disaster operations are coordinated in the most expedient and efficient manner. Disaster coordination centres support disaster management groups at every level of Queensland’s disaster management arrangements – local, district, state and Commonwealth.

5.4.1 Local Disaster Coordination Centre

The LDCC is managed by the local government, staffed by local government employees and supported by agency liaison officers from government and NGOs as appropriate to the local area. The LDCC should have the capability to manage and coordinate resources, information and reporting, and pass RFAs to the DDCC.

5.4.2 District Disaster Coordination Centres

QPS manages the DDCC. The centre is typically staffed by QPS employees and supported by agency liaison officers from state government agencies and appropriate NGOs. The DDCC coordinates the provision of:

  • state government support to LDMGs

  • resources between LDMGs within the district

  • information to the SDCC and LDCCs.

5.4.3 State Disaster Coordination Centre

The SDCC supports the QDMC, SDCG and SDC through the coordination of the state level operational response during disaster operations. The SDCC also ensures information about an event and associated disaster operations is disseminated to all levels in Queensland’s disaster management arrangements.

During disaster response operations, the SDCC is the interface with the Australian Government and other states and territories, coordinating requests for support to DDMGs and through them to LDMGs.

Other state level coordination centres may also be activated to provide information and situational awareness to the SDCC. For example the Queensland Health State Health Emergency Coordination Centre (SHECC) provides situational awareness on behalf of all Queensland Health facilities.

5.4.4 Australian Government Crisis Coordination Centre

The Australian Government CCC coordinates the Australian Government’s whole of government response to major emergencies, and the disaster management policy and operations between Queensland and the Australian Government.

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5.5 Declaration of a disaster situation

Sections 64, 65, 66, 67, 67A, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 72A and 73 of the Act give the legislative authority for declaring a disaster situation, notice of declaration, duration, extension and ending the disaster situation. The declaration of a disaster situation provides additional powers to nominated officers as per sections 75, 76, 77, 78 and 79 of the Act.

A disaster situation will normally only be declared by the DDC, Minister for Fire and Emergency Services or Premier when it is necessary to exercise those additional powers to prevent or minimise:

  • loss of human life

  • illness or injury to humans

  • property loss or damage

  • damage to the environment.

It is not necessary to declare a disaster situation to activate the disaster management arrangements or to obtain financial assistance through established disaster relief schemes.

The process for declaring a disaster situation is provided in the toolkit.

Details on the disaster powers of a DDC or declared disaster officer as per section 77 of the Act are provided in the toolkit.

F.1.213 Form DM1 – Direction about the exercise of powers under other Acts during disaster situations

F.1.214 Form DM2 – Declaration of a disaster situation– district level

F.1.215 Form DM3A – Extension of a disaster situation –district level

F.1.216 Form DM3B – Extension of a disaster situation

F.1.217 Form DM4 – Request to end a disaster situation– district level

F.1.218 Form DM5 – Declaration of a disaster situation– state level

F.1.219 Form DM6A – Extension of a disaster situation– state level

F.1.220 Form DM6B – Extension of a disaster situation– state level

F.1.221 Form DM7 – Request to end a disaster situation– state level

F.1.222 Form DM8A – Authorisation for an individual to exercise declared disaster powers

F.1.223 Form DM8B – Authorisation for a category or class of persons to exercise declared disaster powers

F.1.224 Form DM9 – Authorisation of Declared Disaster Officers to remove dismantle demolish or destroy abuilding or other structure in a disaster situation

F.1.225 Form DM10 – Notice of a direction about property

F.1.226 Form DM11 – Authorisation of persons to exercise rescue powers

F.1.227 Form DM12 – Application for Compensation

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5.6 Communications and systems for public information and warnings

Public information during the response phase of a disaster management operation provides the community with awareness of hazards and information about events and recommended actions, such as local evacuation arrangements and specific measures available for vulnerable groups (e.g. the elderly, ill and people with a disability).

Traditional media, including radio, television and print, is used for public information in most events, however local governments and emergency service agencies should also use social media, local warning systems, websites and other channels to provide information to stakeholders and the community.

The BoM is responsible for issuing meteorological warnings such as severe weather warnings, tropical cyclone advice, and tsunami warnings. Local governments should constantly monitor these messages to ensure situational awareness. Warnings about incidents such as bushfire, biosecurity threats, chemical spills, dams and water releases are issued by the relevant functional lead agency.

The notification and dissemination of information and warnings does not rely on the activation of a disaster management group. Rather, they should be the automatic responsibility of disaster management agencies, regardless of the status of activation of a disaster management group.

The Watch Desk – the 24/7 disaster monitoring unit in the SDCC – is key in disseminating warnings from BoM to agencies across all levels of Queensland's disaster management arrangements. Additionally, the Watch Desk is the primary authority for disseminating non-opt-in warnings via the EA system.

D.1.184 Queensland Tsunami Notification Responsibilities Diagram

D.1.176 Emergency Alert: Process Map

5.6.1 Local notification systems

Local governments are responsible for the management and operation of local warning systems and communication channels. Public information, warning and community awareness activities should continue before, during and after an event in line with existing local government processes for local warning systems. These processes, products and public information and warning strategies should be monitored for continuous improvement post the disaster event.

5.6.2 Emergency Alert System

The LDC, DDC, SDC or delegated officer of the referable dam owner (as listed in the approved dam emergency action plan), can request, through the QFES advisor on their respective disaster management group, for an EA campaign to be delivered via landline and text messages to potentially affected people. QFES Incident Controllers may also choose to request an EA campaign for a fire or hazardous material incident.

The state supports local governments, dam owners and other agencies using the EA system, where possible, to draft messages and prepare maps of potential alert areas.

QFES Media holds responsibility for advising the media of the publication of an EA campaign. Once an EA has been issued, QFES Media publishes a ‘web friendly’ version of the message along with details about who requested the message and any relevant links to further information. This information is sent to the media via the QFES Newsroom as well as being uploaded to the Queensland Government Disaster Management website and QFES social media platforms.

For more information regarding Emergency Alerts refer to the Emergency Alert website.

M.1.174 Emergency Alert Manual

5.6.3 Standard Emergency Warning Signal (SEWS)

As a general rule, the following four factors should be present before broadcasting SEWS:

  • potential for loss of life and/or a major threat to a significant number of properties or the environment – usually the threat/impact would be the lead item in local news bulletins

  • a significant number of people need to be warned

  • a significant impact is expected or is occurring at the time

  • one or more phenomena are classified as "destructive".

The SEWS sound precedes each emergency warning message sent from the EA system.

The status and effectiveness of SEWS is maintained by limiting its use to certain significant events:

  • wind gusts > 125km/h (e.g. tropical cyclones of category 2 and above or their wintertime equivalents)

  • storm tide > 0.5m above highest astronomical tide (HAT) (note that the guidelines allow initiating authorities to exercise a degree of flexibility and discretion if there is a significant threat to areas below 0.5m above HAT)

  • large hail > 4cm in diameter (corresponding to > golf ball size)

  • tornado

  • major flood, flash flood and/or dam failure

  • intense rainfall leading to flash floods and/or landslides (1-6 hour rainfall total > 50 year average recurrence interval)

  • geohazards including effects of earthquakes and/or tsunami waves > 1m (tide dependent)

  • major urban and rural fires

  • major pollution, hazardous material or biohazard emergency

  • other major emergency situations.

In Queensland, the authority to initiate SEWS is restricted to:

  • BoM Regional Director for weather events

  • Commissioner, QFES for disaster events and HAZMAT related incidents

  • Commissioner, QPS.

When a SEWS warning is issued, the LDC (or nominated delegate) of each local government affected by the warning is to be notified by the initiating authority at the earliest opportunity.

All initiating authorities should notify the QFES State Duty Supervisor or State Duty Officer at the SDCC Watch Desk, who will then contact the relevant local governments.

M.1.171 The Standard Emergency Warning Signal Manual

5.6.4 Tsunami notifications

The JATWC notifies the BoM's Queensland regional office by telephone before issuing a tsunami warning and, in turn, the BoM's Queensland regional office confirms receipt of the warning by the SDCC by telephone.

Emergency radio and television broadcasts may be preceded by the SEWS if authorised by BoM. LDMGs may use local broadcast media to carry tailored messages to their local communities.

Telephone – using local or agency mass phone dialling message systems – is the most appropriate alert, particularly at night.

Sirens are effective for warnings, particularly for locations near the immediate coastline. Local governments may also use appropriate radio, public address systems and variable messaging signs.

M.1.183 Queensland Tsunami Notification Manual

D.1.184 Queensland Tsunami Notification Responsibilities Diagram

5.6.5 Media management during disaster operations

Consistent information from all levels of Queensland's disaster management arrangements is critical during a disaster event.

To ensure the release of appropriate, reliable and consistent information:

  • each disaster management group's spokesperson should be approved by the group's Chairperson

  • other key spokespersons should be senior representatives of the agencies involved in the event (e.g. LDC, DDC, XO, SDC or their delegates)

  • hold joint media conferences at designated times involving key stakeholders, including the Chairperson of the DDMG and the Mayor of the LDMG where geographically feasible

  • coordinate media conferences and announcements to avoid conflicts between state, district or local statements

  • all relevant agencies should carefully check statistics before release

  • each agency is only to comment on its own areas of responsibility.

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5.7 Evacuation

A comprehensive, coordinated and consistent evacuation process is essential as it may be required across more than one LGA. Further, consistent evacuation processes and messages need to be communicated to all residents as well as tourists and other transient populations to minimise confusion and maximise cooperation.

5.7.1 Decision to evacuate

Decision makers analyse event specific information and intelligence and make an assessment on the necessity to evacuate exposed persons. An individual can choose to self-evacuate prior to an announcement of either a LDMG coordinated voluntary evacuation or a DDC directed evacuation.

Voluntary evacuation may be coordinated and implemented by the LDMG in close consultation with the DDC. After a disaster has been declared, the decision to order a directed evacuation lies with the DDC and should be made in consultation with the LDC and based on the Evacuation Sub-plan. The LDMG/LDC has no legislative power to direct an evacuation, however may recommend this action to the DDC.

5.7.2 Warning

An evacuation warning is a message that informs and enables individuals and communities to take appropriate action in response to an impending hazard.

The efficacy of evacuation warnings relies on the community having an understanding of the likely hazards and potential impacts relative to them and their community and what actions they will need to take to prepare themselves for evacuation.

This is generally achieved through an ongoing disaster management community education and awareness program coupled with pre-planned warning arrangements including standard dissemination methods and processes, warning messages and key messages.

5.7.3 Withdrawal

The process of withdrawal involves the physical and coordinated movement of exposed persons to safer locations. Withdrawal requires careful, comprehensive and coordinated planning to support the movement of all exposed persons in a timely manner and to reduce public anxiety and traffic congestion. More specifically, the strategy for withdrawal comprises:

  • evacuation routes (including assembly points and signage)

  • traffic management

  • transport

  • security.

Some community members and groups will require assisted withdrawal. These groups should be identified during the analysis of the exposed population. The process for their withdrawal should be documented in the Evacuation Sub-plan.

A systematic grid system must be used to ensure all properties within the affected community are visited and to facilitate regular progress reports to the LDCC.

5.7.4 Shelter

The shelter stage of the evacuation process focuses on the provision of refuge to evacuees within nominated evacuation facility and/or safer location. This stage relates to the receiving, registration and temporary respite or accommodation of evacuees.

The LDMG will identify and activate the most appropriate evacuation facility for shelter relative to the type of event and convey this to the local community within warning messages.

Where a hazard may be threatening to impact on a community and an evacuation is not required, individuals are responsible for deciding whether to shelter in place or find alternative accommodation away from the exposed area. This decision would be based on:

  • the current situation (tune into warnings, log onto council website and listen out)

  • their specific needs and priorities

  • their family and neighbours' needs

  • their location.

People who are capable of moving away without assistance are encouraged to relocate outside the exposed area.

The community will expect some form of evacuation facility and/or safer location to be provided if they are directed to evacuate from an unsafe area through an evacuation order.

Extreme weather conditions are unpredictable and, when faced with catastrophic circumstances that exceed pre-planned evacuation facilities and/or safer locations, local governments are encouraged to have already identified a contingency plan for additional facilities/locations available at short notice.

5.7.5 Return

The return of evacuees to their homes requires careful planning to ensure the process is well managed and coordinated. This requires preparation prior to the onset of an event.

The evacuation process does not end when the hazard has passed as it is critical that people return home in a safe manner with as much support and assistance as possible. Where return is not immediately possible, recovery services to facilitate short term and longer term temporary accommodation solutions for displaced community members need to be implemented.

The return process may include:

  • return to the area by emergency services and work teams only

  • partial return to only some areas of the evacuated area

  • temporary return during daylight hours only.

L.1.191 Food Safety in Evacuation Centres

H.1.259 Queensland Evacuation Centre Management Handbook

L.1.255 National Planning Principles for Animals in Disasters

M.1.188 Public Cyclone Shelter Manual

M.1.189 Tropical Cyclone Storm Tide Warning Response System Handbook

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5.8 Logistics

When a disaster management group requires logistics support and/or resources to meet operational requirements that are beyond local or district capacity and capability, they must seek assistance through a formal request to the next relevant level (i.e. local to district or district to state).

The group must clearly articulate the resource capability required or the problem and outcome they need using the RFA template. The request must provide sufficient details about description, quantity and delivery time to ensure an efficient and timely response.

State agencies represented on the DDMG are to acquire goods and services through their established departmental acquisition processes, before placing a request with the SDCC for assistance from another agency.

Administrative boundaries may unnecessarily separate resources from impacted communities. Accordingly, disaster management plans should detail all resources located within the area, irrespective of administrative boundaries. This may include neighbouring DDMGs and non-disaster affected LDMGs.

Any proposed cross boundary arrangements should be acknowledged through the relevant planning processes and documented within the disaster management plan, along with strategies for prioritising the allocation of support and resources.

The state should be advised prior to the cross boundary arrangements being implemented, to assist the state-wide coordination of resources.

F.1.198 Request for Assistance Form

5.8.1 Managing requests for assistance

The logistics function in the coordination centre at each level of Queensland's disaster management arrangements plays a central role in managing RFAs. To support this function, Liaison Officers are responsible for coordinating RFAs applicable to their agency and providing advice and assistance on their agency's capabilities and resources. When a RFA is received, the following actions are undertaken:

  • assess the RFA:

    • determine if it is an appropriate request for the agency or group

    • assess the request to ensure it contains all required information to enable the appropriate actioning of the request

    • seek clarification from the requesting officer if necessary

  • monitor the RFA status:

    • monitor and track the request and ensure any issues with its completion are identified and resolved

    • ensure accurate recording and reporting on the completion of requests

  • interact with other agencies:

    • RFA may require action by more than one agency

    • Liaison Officers (LOs) should work together to coordinate the completion of the RFA

  • Forward plan:

    • Consider future operational requirements which generate requests for the group or agency

    • undertake contingency planning in anticipation of requests

    • gain information from briefings and meetings

    • consider determining the availability of resources

Managing and monitoring RFAs ensure the allocation, receipt and return of the resources (if applicable) is appropriate and within established arrangements (e.g. offers of assistance, emergency supply, council to council, evacuation, public cyclone shelter management).

The RFA process is illustrated in Figure 5.3.

Figure 5.3 Managing and monitoring RFA flowchart

5.8.2 Emergency supply

Emergency supply is the acquisition and management of emergency supplies and services in support of disaster operations. It is best delivered by a logistics cell or capability at either the Local, District or State Disaster Coordination Centre, depending on the specific situation.

When local and district operations require additional resources during a disaster, QFES, as the functional lead agency for emergency supply, coordinates the acquisition and management of supplies and services, either through the SDCC Watch Desk or by its logistics capability when the SDCC is activated. Emergency supply is generally conducted as an RFA.

The escalation of requests from local to district to state should not be a strategy to shift financial risk. Uncertainty at the local level about request or resource eligibility under the NDRRA, should be addressed with the responsible QFES Emergency Management Coordinator or Queensland Reconstruction Authority liaison officer.

Supplies should first be sought locally, using the Local Emergency Supply Register developed as part of the LDMP.

T.1.195 Emergency Suppliers Register Template

5.8.3 Council to council arrangements

Local councils may seek assistance from other local councils to provide personnel or physical resources during a disaster event. The RFA process is used for these council to council requests.

This process facilitates the movement of council managed goods and services including council staff to other council areas.

5.8.4 Resupply operations

When isolation occurs, the Queensland Government may need to act and initiate resupply operations to provide essential items for impacted communities. Resupply operations are expensive and logistically challenging and must be considered as a last resort.

When local and district operations require additional resources, QFES coordinates the acquisition and management of resupply through the SDCC logistics or Watch Desk.

There are three types of resupply operations undertaken in Queensland:

  • resupply of isolated communities

  • isolated rural property resupply

  • resupply of stranded persons. Resupply of isolated communities

This operation occurs when people residing in a community have access to retail outlets but those outlets are unable to maintain the level of essential goods required due to normal transport routes being inoperable as a result of a natural disaster event. In this scenario, the state government contributes to the cost of transporting goods by alternate methods.

This operation ensures essential goods are available to the community through the normal retail facilities within that community. This maintains the safety and wellbeing of humans and domestic animals during the period of isolation. Isolated rural property resupply

Isolated rural properties are groups of individuals isolated from retail facilities due to normal transport routes being inoperable as a result of a natural disaster event. This may include primary producers, outstations or small communities that have no retail facilities and require resupply. The aim of resupply operations to isolated rural properties is to maintain access to essential goods, including medications.

Isolated rural property owners are responsible for placing and paying for their orders with retailers. The LDCC and DDCC facilitate and meet the cost of transport only. Resupply to isolated rural properties may continue for some time after resupply to isolated communities is no longer required.

LDMGs whose area of responsibility contains rural properties that are subject to isolation should ensure that all rural properties are aware of the resupply process, protocols and contacts. Resupply of stranded persons

This operation provides essential goods to individuals who are isolated from retail facilities due to normal transport routes being inoperable as a result of a natural disaster event and are not at their normal place of residence. This is usually stranded travellers and campers.

The resupply or evacuation of stranded persons is coordinated by the QPS. QPS may also use the resources of the LDCC – if it is activated – in response to a disaster event in the LGA.

QPS determines the most appropriate course of action: whether to resupply stranded individuals or to evacuate them to a safer environment. If the LDCC is not activated, QPS will resupply or evacuate stranded individuals and report through the normal police reporting system.

M.1.205 Resupply Manual

F1.206 Local Government Request for SDCC Resupply Form

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5.9 Financial Management

The inherent nature of disaster events typically means finance operations must be conducted within compressed time constraints and other operational pressures, necessitating the use of non-routine procedures.

Despite this, the requirement for sound financial management and accountability does not diminish. Agencies must ensure they adhere to relevant legislation, policies and procedures.  

For more information regarding financial management considerations refer to Chapter 4, section 4.4.3: Financial arrangements.

5.9.1 Disaster financial assistance arrangements

There are multiple financial arrangements which, if activated, can provide financial support to Queensland communities impacted by a disaster event through the reimbursement of eligible expenditure.

For more information regarding these arrangements refer to Chapter 7.

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5.10 Reporting

5.10.1 Operational reporting

Situational awareness at all levels of Queensland’s disaster management arrangements enables informed operational decision making. This situational awareness is provided by specific event reporting procedures activated during disaster management operations.

A situational report (sitrep) is brief, updated regularly and outlines the details of the disaster, requirements and the responses undertaken.

LOs are required to report on the status of their agency’s involvement in disaster operations by meeting the reporting requirements of both the disaster coordination centre and their agency. Local

During a disaster event, the LDMG, through the operation of the LDCC, is responsible for the preparation and distribution of sitreps. Sitreps capture accurate information from the day's operations including a current and forecast situation.

To do this, LDMG's will need regular and accurate information from operational areas to inform operational responses, forward planning and the contents of the sitrep.

LDMGs will need to allocate appropriate staff in the LDCC to compile the sitrep.

If an event is contained within a LGA and has not progressed to DDCC activation, the DDMG will still have activated to 'Lean Forward' level and the DDC may request LDMG sitreps to monitor and assess the situation. The nature of the disaster and the involvement of the DDMG will determine the timings, complexity and format of the sitrep for a given event.

T.1.228 Local Disaster Management Group Situation Report Template District

The district level has adopted a system of live reporting during a disaster event, recorded directly into the Disaster Incident Event Management System (DIEMS) and therefore no longer produces a standardised sitrep. DIEMS is monitored during activation of the SDCC and relevant information is included in the state level reporting. 

The DDCC will need to ensure sitreps are received from activated/affected LDMGs to inform districts’ operational response and forward planning. The DDC will determine and advise LDMGs of the frequency of sitreps, relative to the disaster event. State

During a disaster event, state level reports are prepared and distributed by the SDCC as:

  • State update – provides an overall situational awareness to a wide audience (i.e. LDMGs and DDMGs).

  • Executive summary – provides a strategic summary to SDC/QDMC, senior executive of QFES and QPS.

  • Key messages – produced for use as speaking points by government personnel, Ministers and the Premier.


Figure 5.3 Reporting process

5.10.2 Tasking log

A tasking log to record actions and the responsible agency or officer should be used during a disaster event. The log will be used by the LDC or, in larger operations, the Tasking or Operations Officer in the LDCC.

A tasking log may contain details of:

  • the specific operational task to be undertaken

  • the date and time of commencement of the task

  • the agency and responsible officer to which the task has been delegated

  • relevant contact details

  • the date and time of completion of the task

  • actions taken and contextual comments.

The use of a tasking log helps to ensure, during busy and challenging times, that planned actions have been executed and documented. Tasking logs should be treated as official records and stored and archived appropriately to provide information to any post-event review.

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5.11 Debrief

A debrief must be organised at the conclusion of response operations for the local, district and state levels. Debriefs can take varying forms and have different purposes.

5.11.1 Hot debrief

A hot debrief is conducted immediately after response operations conclude. Participants share learning points while their response experiences are fresh. For lengthy response operations, multiple hot briefs may be conducted at suitable intervals to identify issues and develop solutions for immediate implementation.

5.11.2 Post event debrief

A post-event debrief is conducted days or weeks after a response operation concludes, when participants have had time to reflect on and consider the effectiveness of the operation.

All agencies must have an articulated debrief plan and outline options for employee assistance in line with their respective agency's human resources policies.

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5.12 Disaster management Systems 

Collaboration and interoperability are essential foundations for effective disaster management and consideration should be given to establishing systems, procedures and processes that ensure a continuous flow of accurate, critical, up-to-date, and relevant information between key stakeholders across all levels of Queensland's disaster management arrangements using the guidelines, standards and requirements of the Queensland Government's Chief Information Office.

Groups should consider the requirements of the Queensland Government Chief Information Office; information access and use guidelines and technical standards to ensure sharing of data and information, as well as the interoperability of computer systems that connect using web services.

L.1.128 Queensland Government Chief Information Office

L.1.129 Information access and use (IS33) policy

L.1.130 Information access and use (IS33) guideline

L.1.131 Determining the ex ante release status of information

L.1.132 Information governance policy

The key event management systems used in Queensland to provide platforms for information sharing and situational awareness are discussed below.

5.12.1 Local - information management systems

Local governments use various systems to manage information in LDCCs, from paper-based information management processes, to customised electronic information management systems. Regardless of the system used, local governments should ensure they have the necessary process in place for the correct capture and recovery of information during a disaster event.

One of these systems, Guardian Control Centre, facilitates the management of a multiagency response to a disaster of any scale. Guardian has the capability to enable local disaster coordination staff to receive requests for assistance and information related to a disaster event, record these requests and information, and allocate tasks to various agencies based on the relevant (and already embedded) LDMP.

Guardian also can connect LDCCs to district and state coordination centres. Bulletins, RFAs and council to council support can be managed through the platform in a streamlined manner.

5.12.2 District - Disaster, Incident and Event Management System

DIEMS provides support to the QPS and partner agencies in the management of all types of disasters, major incidents, and planned and unplanned events. DIEMS is an internal state-wide QPS application that is scalable and provides interoperability with other Queensland emergency service agencies, as well as interstate and federal law enforcement agencies. DIEMS is available from any internet enabled device.

5.12.3 State - Event Management System (EMS)

The SDCC Event Management System (EMS) provides a scalable and fit-for-purpose system to coordinate and effectively manage all information about a potential or actual disaster event, and to enable the effective and efficient response of frontline resources and disaster management organisations.

The EMS acts as the single point of truth for all disaster related information, activity recording and reporting and standardises the process of using data and information management during all phases of the comprehensive approach – prevention, preparedness, response and recovery (PPRR).

EMS was developed to integrate state level reporting. This reporting feature has been further adapted to incorporate the Commonwealth disaster impact indicators, such as the National Impact Assessment Model, which can assist the state with requesting extraordinary funding under the NDRRA.

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6 Recovery

Community recovery from disasters can be a complex and often lengthy process, with different communities recovering at different rates.

The recovery element of the comprehensive approach to disaster management – prevention, preparedness, response and recovery (PPRR) – can be the most complicated and protracted.

The best outcomes are achieved by ensuring recovery strategies align with community need and are led by the affected community.

This requires a collaborative, coordinated, adaptable and scalable approach where the responsibility for disaster recovery is shared among all sectors of the community including individuals, families, community groups, businesses and all levels of government.

A community-led approach supports the rapid restoration of services essential to human wellbeing and presents an opportunity to build resilience and improve community circumstances and preparedness beyond their pre-disaster status.

Queensland takes an all hazards approach to recovery, as identified in the Act.

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6.1 Principles

The following principles underpin all recovery planning and operations in Queensland:

  • Understanding the context:
    • Acknowledge existing strengths and capacity, including past experiences;

    • Appreciate the risks and stressors faced by the community;

    • Be respectful of and sensitive to the culture and diversity of the community;

    • Support those who may be facing vulnerability;

    • Recognise the importance of the environment to people and to their recovery;

    • Be acknowledged as requiring a long term, sustained effort as needed by the community; and

    • Acknowledge the impact upon the community may extend beyond the geographical boundaries where the disaster occurred.

  • Recognising complexity:
    • Disasters lead to a range of effects and impacts that require a variety of approaches; they can also leave long-term legacies;

    • Information on impacts is limited at first and changes over time;

    • Affected individuals and the community have diverse needs, wants and expectations, which can evolve rapidly;

    • Responsive and flexible action is crucial to address immediate needs;

    • Existing community knowledge and values may challenge the assumptions of those outside of the community;

    • Conflicting knowledge, values and priorities among individuals, the community and organisations may create tensions;

    • Emergencies create stressful environments where grief or blame may also affect those involved; and

    • Over time, appropriate support for individuals and communities, from within and outside, can cultivate hope and individual and collective growth.

  • Using local, community-led approaches:
    • Assist and enable individuals, families and the community to actively participate in their own recovery;

    • Recognise that individuals and the community may need different levels of support at various times;

    • Be guided by the communities priorities;

    • Channel effort through pre-identified and existing community assets, including local knowledge, existing community strengths and resilience;

    • Build collaborative partnerships between the community and those involved in the recovery process;

    • Recognise that new community leaders often emerge during and after a disaster, who may not hold formal positions of authority; and Recognise that different communities may choose different paths to recovery.

  • Ensuring coordination of all activities:

    • Have clearly articulated and shared goals based on desired outcomes;

    • Be flexible, taking into account changes in community needs or stakeholder expectations.

    • Be guided by those with experience and expertise, using skilled, authentic and capable community leadership;

    • Be at the pace desired by the community, and seek to collaborate and reconcile different interests and time frames;

    • Reflect well-developed community planning and information gathering before, during and after a disaster;

    • Have clear decision-making and reporting structures and sound governance, which are transparent and accessible to the community;

    • Demonstrate an understanding of the roles, responsibilities and authority of organisations involved and coordinate across agencies to ensure minimal service provision disruption;

    • Be part of an emergency management approach that integrates with response operations and contributes to future prevention and preparedness; and

    • Be inclusive, availing of and building upon relationships created before, during and after the emergency.

  • Employing effective communication:

    • Recognise that communication should be twoway, and that input and feedback should be encouraged;

    • Ensure that information is accessible to audiences in diverse situations, addresses a variety of communication needs, and is provided through a range of communication channels and networks;

    • Establish mechanisms for coordinated and consistent communications between all service providers, organisations and individuals and the community;

    • Ensure that all communication is relevant, timely, clear, accurate, targeted, credible and consistent; and

    • Identify trusted sources of information and repeat key recovery messages to enable greater community confidence and receptivity.

  • Acknowledging and building capacity:

    • Assess capability and capacity requirements before, during and after a disaster;

    • Support the development of self-reliance, preparation and disaster mitigation;

    • Quickly identify and mobilise community skills, strengths and resources;

    • Develop networks and partnerships to strengthen capacity, capability and resilience;

    • Provide opportunities to share, transfer and develop knowledge, skills and training;

    • Recognise that resources can be provided by a range of partners and from community networks;

    • Acknowledge that existing resources may be stretched, and that additional resources may be sought;

    • Understand that additional resources may only be available for a limited period, and that sustainability may need to be addressed;

    • Understand when and how to step back, while continuing to support individuals and the community as a whole to be more self-sufficient when they are ready; and

    • Be evaluated to provide learning for future disaster and improved resilience.

The principles above are from the National Principles for Disaster Recovery.

6.2 Recovery Functions

Effective recovery requires an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to needs analysis, consequence management, community engagement, planning and service delivery. Aspects of recovery are conceptually grouped into the following five interrelated functions, applicable in an all hazards environment:

  • human and social

  • economic

  • environment

  • building

  • roads and transport.

The responsibilities for the functional lead agencies for recovery have direct correlation to the relevant agency's core business activities to ensure alignment, appropriate skill sets and sufficient capabilities. The functional lead agencies are as follows:

  • Human and social – Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors 

  • Economic – Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning

  • Environment – Department of Environment and Science 

  • Building – Department of Housing and Public Works 

  • Roads and transport – Department of Transport and Main Roads.

Individual recovery functions have the potential to ether negatively or positively impact on the outcomes sought by other recovery functions. Accordingly, each function must undertake recovery activities in the spirit of cooperation, collaboration and integration, with a focus on mutually beneficial outcomes across multiple functions. An early challenge for all recovery functions is to facilitate the return of communities following any evacuation. ‘Return’ after an evacuation must be planned in conjunction with plans for recovery. Similarly, recovery planning must take account of those planning the return of those following evacuations.

6.2.1 Human and Social

Human and social recovery relates to the emotional, social, physical and psychological health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities following a disaster. Human and social recovery addresses a range of needs including:

  • access to timely information

  • assistance to reconnect with families, friends and community networks

  • enabling people to manage their own recovery through access to information and a range of services and practical assistance measures, including financial support for those individuals and households who are most vulnerable and do not have the means to finance their own recovery

  • engagement and access to emotional, psychological and mental health support at individual, family and community levels (psychosocial support)

  • assistance for people to maintain a sense of equilibrium in their life, come to terms with what has happened and move forward into a new and possibly changed reality.

6.2.2 Economic

A disaster can have both direct and indirect impacts on the economy. The direct impacts can usually be given a monetary value and may include loss of local industry (such as tourism), employment opportunities and reduction in cash flow for businesses.

Economic recovery aims to:

  • address the impacts on key economic assets, employment issues and the capacity of local businesses to operate

  • minimise the effects on individuals and businesses

  • facilitate financial assistance, access to funds and loans and employer subsidies, and assist with contract arrangements

  • facilitate links with job providers and employment agencies to source labour, re-establish supply chains and undertake joint marketing activities

  • support small to medium enterprises in their recovery

  • identify options for improvement or adjustment from current business operations

  • align economic reconstruction priorities with infrastructure development programs and activities where possible.

6.2.3 Environment

The natural environment can be affected as a direct result of a disaster or through a secondary impact or consequence from the disaster response or recovery process.

Potential impacts to the environment include damage or loss of flora and fauna, poor air quality, reduced water quality, land degradation and contamination, as well as destruction to heritage-listed places.

Environmental recovery aims to:

  • identify and monitor actual and potential impacts on the environment from natural and human-made disasters

  • coordinate and prioritise the rehabilitation of impacted (or at risk) land, aquatic and marine ecosystems, wildlife, natural resources, cultural heritage values and built heritage places to maximise efficiency of resource allocation

  • identify, advocate and pursue cross-sector recovery solutions that will achieve multiple objectives, including reducing future impacts on the environment, through the use of natural safeguards and environmentally resilient design

  • coordinate and prioritise the rehabilitation of riparian and coastal land

  • monitor potential water quality issues

  • monitor and advise on other public health matters such as food safety, communicable diseases and mosquito control

  • ensure the recovery actions for mining and other high risk industries are environmentally safe

  • support the timely repair of water and sewage infrastructure.

6.2.4 Building

The effects of a disaster on the built environment often result in damage and disruption which inhibits the capacity of essential services and the building sector, including housing, accommodation, education and health facilities.

Building recovery aims to:

  • assess damage to buildings across the impacted areas to gather information about the extent and severity of damage as well as insurance losses to assist recovery efforts and monitor recovery progress

  • facilitate immediate, short term and longer term temporary accommodation solutions for displaced community members and the incoming government response and recovery workforce

  • assess damage and coordinate the demolition, securing, clean-up, repair and restoration of government owned buildings and facilities 6 Recovery Queensland Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Recovery Disaster Management Guideline 75

  • provide information and advice to impacted homeowners and community members regarding how to clean-up, move back in and organise the assessment, repair or rebuilding of their homes and properties

  • provide advice and support about timely safety inspections and reconnection of utilities by providers

  • provide advice and coordinate the clean-up and disposal of hazardous building material and debris from public areas

  • facilitate longer term temporary accommodation solutions for community members who have been permanently displaced and do not have the means to re-establish their own housing needs without significant assistance

  • provide information and advice to the building industry supply chain (contractors, subcontractors and suppliers) regarding rebuilding materials, skills and trades, codes required for repair, rectification and rebuilding work.

The Minister responsible for Sustainable Planning Act 2009 reduces the regulatory burden during the recovery stage by assisting local council to prepare and progress Temporary Local Planning Instruments to enable orderly and appropriate development to occur while addressing ongoing risks.

6.2.5 Roads and Transport

A disaster's impact on transport networks – including road, rail, aviation and maritime – typically results in reduced access to communities and disruption to critical supply chains (both in and out of the impacted area).

Roads and transport recovery aims to:

  • restore transport networks or identify alternative networks

  • engage directly with industry and the community on the recovery and reconstruction phases following a disaster.

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6.3 Governance

Clear and robust governance arrangements are the foundation of successful disaster recovery. Queensland’s disaster recovery arrangements, shown in Figure 6.1, align with Queensland’s disaster management arrangements articulated in the Act. These arrangements enable a collaborative approach that brings together all agencies, stakeholders and resources for planning and coordinating the delivery of recovery functions.

Once appointed, the SRC facilitates the sharing of information between impacted councils and their LDMGs, DDMGs, the SRPPC and the Queensland Government, including the state level FRGs. In turn, the FRGs, through their representatives on the DDMGs, establish a formal reporting relationship with the relevant LRGs to ensure effective information sharing.

The local level is the entry point for recovery operations.

The district provides resources to the local level, based on impact and needs assessments and agreed service delivery arrangements, ensuring resources required are available and prioritised accordingly.

FRGs support the local and district recovery groups throughout recovery operations as required.

At the state level, the QDMC ensures effective disaster management is developed and implemented across the state.

The QDMC governs recovery at a strategic level, with regular reporting on recovery progress from:

  • the Deputy Chairperson of the QDMC

  • the SRPP

  • the SRC and their deputies, if appointed

The SRPPC may establish a task force to centrally coordinate, support and provide direction for resource allocation. The roles, responsibilities and accountability for the task force are determined by the Minister responsible for recovery and reconstruction.

The required communication and governance protocols for recovery operations should be documented in the recovery section of Local, District and State Disaster Management Plans. These protocols should include:

  • consideration of cross-group arrangements (including the ability to integrate the recovery functions if the nature of the event and / or affected communities warrants such an approach)

  • triggers for transition

  • support arrangements

  • notification requirements consistent with other state plans.


Figure 6.1 Queensland's Disaster Recovery Arrangements

6.3.1 Local Disaster Management Groups

LDMGs are responsible for leading recovery efforts post disaster. LDMGs assess the need for a coordinated, ongoing recovery operations during and/or at the conclusion of the response phase. This may be based on a range of factors including:

  • scale of the disaster

  • outstanding issues and impacts that require a coordinated, multi-agency approach

  • significant disruption of the community's connectedness

  • the community does not have the capability to recover independently

  • people will be unable to return to their properties in the long term

  • reconstruction or other impacts, such as contamination, require a long term recovery plan.

This decision is recorded and local recovery arrangements are activated.

Local recovery arrangements vary across the state due to differences in community characteristics and agency structures. For example, recovery arrangements in rural and remote communities, which are more likely to be at risk of isolation and access to services, differ in some areas from those in urban and coastal locations

DDMGs and state government agencies provide support and resources in response to requests from affected LDMGs.

Accordingly, LDMGs are responsible for ensuring recovery arrangements, in consultation with the community, are prepared for, planned for and implemented to support their LGA.

The groups should identify personnel to lead recovery operations across each functional recovery area (human and social, economic, environment, building and roads and transport), noting that these functions may be collapsed into more general functions, such as infrastructure comprising building and roads and transport).

For more information regarding Local Disaster Management Group Roles and Responsibilities refer to Chapter 2

6.3.2 District Disaster Management Groups and district arrangements for recovery

DDMGs should ensure recovery arrangements are prepared for, planned for and implemented to support the LDMGs in their district.

It is recommended that representatives from each of the functional recovery lead agency are members of DDMGs to ensure recovery operations and planning are included in overall disaster management activities at the district level.

Functional lead agencies should maintain arrangements at the district level that achieve their functional responsibilities for recovery at the local and district levels, such as specific recovery plans and standing groups or committees (for example, the District Human and Social Recovery Committees chaired by the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors).

Once LRGs are established, DDMGs should facilitate communication and information sharing within the district and to the state FRGs, through their FRG lead agency members. DDMGs should also promote council to council arrangements to facilitate recovery operations and investigate opportunities for local government collaboration with other councils, and to build resilience and recovery resource capacity.

For more information regarding District Disaster Management Group Roles and Responsibilities refer to Chapter 2

6.3.3 Local and district recovery groups Establishment

Local and district recovery group establishment:

  • is not mandatory under the Act and occurs at the discretion of the Chairperson of the LDMG or DDMG respectively, depending on the scale of the disaster, impact and needs assessments, and anticipated recovery operations.

  • should be made by the LDMG or DDMG Chairperson respectively in consultation with key agencies likely to be members of the group

  • may include an overarching, local/district recovery group to provide coordination and oversight of Functional Recovery Sub-groups

  • may form as one single recovery group or as multiple Functional Recovery Sub-groups reporting to the LDMG or DDMG (for example, if the focus of a recovery operation is principally environmental impacts, an Environment Recovery Sub-group, reporting to the LDMG/ DDMG, may be formed of agency expert representatives to address these issues)

  • may include the formation of a recovery sub-group for each functional area – human and social, economic, environment, building, and roads and transport – where the impacts are significant and across all functions of recovery.

Where appropriate the functional recovery areas of building and roads and transport can be amalgamated into an infrastructure recovery sub-group.

RG.1.234 Local or District Recovery Group Structure Reference Guide Meetings

Groups are encouraged to meet regularly to ensure recovery strategies and coordination arrangements are practised, exercised and reviewed, and members are prepared.

During recovery operations, the recovery group should meet as necessary at times to best manage, coordinate and monitor recovery operations. These times and dates will be at the discretion of the Chairperson of each group.

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6.4 Recovery planning and preparedness

Recovery planning is integral to disaster preparedness.

Planning for specific recovery operations must commence well before a comprehensive assessment indicates a particular hazard, creating exposures and risk that require response and recovery operations, is likely to occur.

Recovery planning must be sufficiently flexible to deal with the needs of the impacted community, regardless of the nature of the disaster.

For further information, refer Chapter 4, section 4.3: Planning

6.4.1 Local recovery planning

Local governments and LDMGs – in consultation with their communities – have the local knowledge, skilled employees and community connectedness to best lead disaster recovery in their region.

Accordingly, community representatives must be at the centre of planning for a community led approach to be successful.

The ability to undertake local recovery planning will vary between LDMGs and depend on workforce availability, training, previous experience and concurrent disaster management activities. Therefore, arrangements for recovery at the local level should be established well before a disaster and be reflected in relevant LDMPs. Where possible, this should include establishment of a LRG and sub-groups responsible for recovery operations. Local Recovery Plan

A local recovery plan describes the local interagency arrangements for managing recovery operations. It describes the priorities, strategies, issues and activities and actions being taken to address these for a specific disaster.

Recovery plans should be informed through a risk-based approach which takes into account potential exposure to all known hazards. In particular, these plans should identify and provide advice to the relevant district group about support services required by the local group to facilitate recovery operations (as per section 30 of the Act) and incorporate a recovery strategy.

Impacted local governments have a coordinated leadership role in the local recovery process and should have local recovery plans to document recovery strategies and objectives.

In the event of a disaster, an LDMG should consider the development of a disaster specific local recovery plan to drive local recovery efforts.

Where multiple LGAs are involved, the state will develop a broader plan of action.

M.1.136 Guide to Local Recovery Planning Manual.

6.4.2 District Recovery Planning

Arrangements and strategies to coordinate support for local recovery operations within each of Queensland’s 22 districts are reflected in District Disaster Management Plans (DDMPs). The DDMP should address the district’s recovery strategy, developed in consultation with the relevant LDMGs, and include coordination arrangements for recovery across the functional areas at the district level.

FRG lead agencies ensure arrangements that achieve their functional responsibilities for recovery planning at the local, district and state level are in place.

6.4.3 State recovery planning

At the state level, recovery planning for a specific disaster is undertaken under direction from the QDMC and guidance from the SRPPC.

Depending on the scale and scope of the disaster, and in consideration of local and district recovery planning and operations, the SRPPC, through the QRA, will develop a recovery plan to manage and coordinate recovery operations for disaster events (as defined in section 16 of the Act) as well as any other incident determined by the Minister responsible for recovery and reconstruction or the SRPPC.

The SRPPC will lead this planning in consultation with the five FRGs, other relevant state government agencies, the impacted councils and LDMGs and DDMGs and the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ).

6.4.4 Functional lead agency recovery plans

Functional lead agency recovery plans should be developed in partnership with stakeholders, through a planning group, and include:

  • short, medium and long term recovery priorities

  • consideration of local capability

  • a focus on the restoration of key infrastructure and services, rebuilding and rehabilitation

  • metrics to track progress and support accountability

  • consideration of funding arrangements

  • integration across all functional recovery areas

  • mechanisms to engage community members in their own recovery

  • anticipated end of recovery activities and the expected transition to community activities and a new normal.

Where appropriate, each FRG lead agency or recovery sub-group should develop, for incorporation into broader recovery plans, a plan of action in collaboration with their members that details the arrangements for their designated recovery function to support recovery operations at the local, district and state levels.

6.4.5 Communication Planning

Recovery groups, at every level, are strongly recommended to develop a communication plan.

The purpose of this plan is to coordinate effective communication with the community and other stakeholders across the recovery functions.

The plan could include:

  • information on the recovery strategy

  • planned measures in place

  • the progress of recovery operations (using defined and agreed metrics)

  • central sources of recovery related information for individuals, communities and other stakeholders.

To foster and maintain confidence in the recovery operations, processes to measure progress should be established and then communicated to the community.

This could be via:

  • community engagement events and activities when key milestones are reached

  • regular media updates

  • a strong web and social media presence.

The communication plan should also outline strategies for engaging with affected individuals and communities, and building on existing links with community and cultural leaders and networks. This will ensure effective recovery-related issues and possible strategies for their resolution are identified, and service delivery arrangements are in place.

The communication plan needs to identify communication pathways between each level's recovery groups, sub-groups, stakeholders and the media. It should also consider requirements for each stage of recovery operations, transitional arrangements and, where necessary, strategies for communicating with key decision makers within Queensland's disaster management arrangements.

The communication plan should be incorporated in the relevant LDMP or DDMP, as well as state recovery plans and functional lead agency recovery plans. The communication approach should be consistent across all plans to ensure it is executed smoothly during operations.

Communication plans should also consider the requirements outlined in the Queensland Government arrangements for coordinating public information during a crisis.

H.1.159 Queensland Government: arrangements for coordinating public information in a crisis

6.4.6 Exercise Plans

Recovery plans should be tested at least annually for currency and accuracy (via operational activity or exercise) and reviewed every two years, as a minimum, to ensure compliance with current planning guidelines.

Exercises should be conducted in conjunction with those planned by disaster management groups to test response operations. This will help assess the interaction between response and recovery operations.

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6.5 Concept of operations

​6.5.1 Triggers to activate recovery

Queensland's SDMP details the disaster operation trigger levels of activation as:

  • Alert

  • Lean Forward

  • Stand Up

  • Stand Down.

The nature of a disaster determines the length of response and recovery operations. While the timing to transition from one level of activation to the next can be arbitrary (as it is based on specific and evolving circumstances), trigger points help guide this decision.

Recovery agencies should be in the Alert level of activation when a disaster is imminent to ensure recovery strategies and arrangements are established and embedded.

A review of preparedness arrangements and existing plans, including preliminary scoping for future recovery planning and the commencement of impact assessments, should also occur at this time.

Concurrently, agencies and organisations will undertake activities to support the response, such as data collection, communication, engagement and scenario planning to prepare the community for the disaster.

In the early stages of Stand Up level of activation for response operations, recovery agencies will move to Lean Forward level of recovery activation. At this time, impact assessments are updated, information from response agencies is reviewed and analysed, discussions with possible service delivery agencies are undertaken, governance arrangements are confirmed and recovery planning to develop recovery options is well underway.

When intelligence indicates that recovery agencies are required to provide resources to the community, recovery shifts to the Stand Up level of activation. At this level, immediate, short term, medium term and long term recovery occurs.

Individuals, groups, functions and communities are likely to be at varying stages of recovery. Accordingly, recovery arrangements must be flexible and dynamic to meet the emerging and evolving demands of the region.

6.5.2 Transition from response operations to recovery operations

The transition from response coordination to recovery coordination is influenced by the nature of the disaster and, as a result, requires substantial flexibility. For example, the transition from response to recovery in large scale or geographically dispersed events may be staged, with response and recovery operations being undertaken concurrently. Local/district level

The timing of the transition at the local and district levels, and the need to undertake such a process, will be informed by local circumstances and determined by the Chairpersons of the relevant LDMGs and DDMGs. The transition will be guided by:

  • sitreps which contain the specific evidence required for the de-escalation of response operations to recovery

  • status of response, immediate recovery and relief operations

  • impact and needs assessments

  • response and early recovery situations that may escalate

  • anticipated recovery issues and risks. State level

The transition procedure at the state level requires the SDC to ensure the SRPPC and the SRC, if appointed, are kept informed about the response operation, including damage and impact assessments that will be used as the basis for preliminary recovery planning:

  • at a time agreed by the SDC and the SRPPC, transition to recovery will occur through a formal briefing from the SDC to the SRPPC and the SRC, if appointed. The SDC, supported by the Chairpersons of the FRGs, will provide a comprehensive briefing on all relevant issues, including, but not limited to:

    • incomplete actions and identified risks

    • resources allocated for response and their availability for the recovery phase

    • an impact assessment of the disaster, including the five functional areas of recovery and any overlapping issues

    • a summary of areas or situations that may re-escalate after the disaster.

  • the SRPPC and the SRC, if appointed, will advise the impacted LDMG and DDMG Chairpersons of the transition

  • the SRPPC and the SRC will consult with the FRG lead agencies to develop a detailed impact assessment for comprehensive recovery planning

  • the transition will conclude upon endorsement of the formal handover brief from response leadership (SDC) to recovery leadership (SRPPC and SRC, if appointed).

6.5.3 Phases of recovery

Recovery operations will be undertaken across three phases (as shown in Figure 6.2):

  • post-impact relief and early recovery

  • recovery and reconstruction

  • transition.


Figure 6.2 Three phases of recovery Phase 1: post-impact relief and early recovery

Key actions:

  • immediate and short term recovery (relief)

  • impact and damage assessments undertaken

  • SRC appointed at the state level, if required

  • recovery groups established at the local and district levels

  • the transition from immediate post disaster response operations to short term recovery operations, as well as the development, planning, consultation and implementation of a recovery plan

  • recovery works undertaken with this phase will occur parallel to the response phase and conclude when all disaster response activities are assumed by relevant agencies for recovery and reconstruction. Phase two: recovery and reconstruction

Key actions:

  • medium-term recovery

  • integrated execution of the deliberate, methodical recovery and reconstruction activities to achieve the best possible outcomes for disaster affected individuals, communities, functions and infrastructure

  • continued coordination of ongoing impact assessments, community engagement, communication and collaboration between functional and recovery groups at all levels

  • progress across all areas of recovery is monitored by the SRPPC, LRC and DRC to identify any overlapping issues, reinforce the need for required resources and capability, and maintain the momentum of recovery and reconstruction activities

  • the phase concludes when the progressive achievement of key milestones, detailed in the relevant recovery plan, are sufficiently advanced to enable the transition of responsibilities from the SRPPC to the responsible agencies or service deliverers. Phase three: transition

Key actions:

  • progressive handover of recovery and reconstruction responsibilities to agencies or organisations including government, local government, community-based or industry-led sectors that would normally support the functional area

  • lessons identified and improvements implemented to increase resilience as part of recovery

  • the phase concludes when all recovery and reconstruction responsibilities are managed as business as usual

  • the affected community realises its post-disaster "new normal".

The transition, or Stand Down from formal recovery structures for the impacted individuals and community is part of the planning process and is staged and conducted in conjunction with an appropriate public information strategy.

Organisational arrangements are wound down at this time and responsibility for completing outstanding tasks and actions are formally assigned to and accepted by the relevant agency or authority.

Recovery groups should identify, during discussions throughout recovery operations, triggers for commencing Stand Down. These discussions should be informed by the review of recovery plans and reports from functional recovery groups.

6.5.4 Reporting

Regular recovery status reporting will record and monitor the progress of key recovery tasks.

Chairpersons of relevant recovery groups should provide information and reports, using agreed formats and schedules, to the relevant disaster management groups to ensure the awareness of recovery activities is maintained.

At the state level, the Minister responsible for recovery and reconstruction, and, when necessary, those Ministers with functional recovery responsibilities, will report to the QDMC on recovery progress and the achievement of key milestones in the recovery effort.

These reports will be developed by the FRGs as appropriate, with input from all FRGs and recovery partners and SRCs and their deputies, when appointed. These recovery achievements will be published on the QRA website, along with other statutory public reporting requirements for NDRRA funding (if activated for the event).

6.5.5 Debrief

A debrief must be organised at the conclusion of recovery operations for the local, district and state levels. Debriefs can take varying forms and have different purposes. For example:

  • A hot debrief is conducted immediately after operations conclude. Participants share learning points while their recovery experiences are fresh. For lengthy recovery operations, multiple hot briefs may be conducted at suitable intervals to identify issues and develop solutions for immediate implementation.

  • A post event debrief is conducted days or weeks after a recovery operation when participants have had time to reflect on and consider the effectiveness of the operation.

All agencies must have an articulated debrief plan and outline options for employee assistance in line with their respective agency's human resources policies.

6.5.6 Review and Evaluation

All entities should conduct assurance activities to evaluate the effectiveness of recovery planning and operations. Exercises and after action reviews are also integral to informing improvements for community recovery strategies and activities.

The Office of the IGEM is accountable (under Part 1A of the Act) for assessing the effectiveness of plans and considers recovery planning at the local and district levels as part of its annual disaster management plan assessment processes. The office may also assess the effectiveness of the delivery of recovery operations and planning using the Standard.

The findings and recommendations from these activities assist in the identification of good practice and opportunities for improvement in disaster recovery and should be shared with all disaster management groups and key stakeholders at the local, district and state levels.

More information about the Standard for Disaster Management is available from the Inspector-General Emergency Management's website.

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7 Financial arrangements

​7.1 Overview

Multiple financial arrangements, including funding programs, are available in Queensland to assist state and local governments, businesses, primary producers and NGOs to prepare for, prevent, respond to and recover from disaster events.

When seeking funding, all state and local government agencies must adhere to their relevant legislation, policies and procedures and also meet the specific requirements of the particular funding program.

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7.2 Governance

State and local government agencies must have an appropriate governance framework in place when managing disasters to enable them to perform their functions efficiently and effectively, while meeting their responsibilities and obligations.

Government bodies should also observe the core governance principles of:

  • transparency

  • accountability

  • integrity, including the resolution of potential and actual conflicts of interest with selflessness and objectivity in the public interest

  • due diligence

  • economy, efficiency and effectiveness.

Local governments must also align with the Local Government Act 2009 with Brisbane City Council aligning to the City of Brisbane Act 2010.

Further information on planning and governance is located at the Queensland Government's Shared Services website.

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7.3 Procurement Policy

Even during a disaster, any expenditure agencies incur must be in accordance with their procurement policy and the requirements detailed in the relevant funding program.

When procuring goods or services local governments must align with the Local Government Act 2009 and the Local Government Regulation 2012 and their own council procurement policy.

The Local Government Regulation 2012 Chapter 6, 235(c) states a local government may enter into a medium-sized contractual arrangement or large-sized contractual arrangement without first inviting written quotes or tenders if a genuine emergency exists. A disaster situation meets this exception.

If expenditure is in breach of the agency's procurement standards, then reimbursement of these costs should not be sought under the funding program.

State government agencies must comply with the Queensland Procurement Policy.

Further information on the Queensland Procurement Policy is available at the Queensland Government's Shared Services website.

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7.4 Financial accountability

During disaster events, state government agencies and local governments must comply with the Financial Accountability Act 2009 and other relevant acts as appropriate.

Further information about financial accountability is available at Queensland Treasury's website.

7.5 Funding for state and local governments

Funding programs that can assist state and local governments, businesses, primary producers and NGOs to prepare for, prevent, respond to and recover from disaster events are provided within the toolkit. This list is not exhaustive and not all funding is available each year or disaster event.

RG.1.243 Funding Sources Reference Guide

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7.6 Offers of assistance

Offers of assistance may be spontaneous or may be solicited by disaster management groups, NGOs or the state government. It is not mandatory to accept offers of assistance.

The categories of offers of assistance are:

  • financial

  • volunteering

  • goods and services.

Offers of assistance are not to be used to rebuild government owned infrastructure and should not be considered an alternative to appropriate levels of insurance.

7.6.1 Financial donations

Financial donations are used to provide immediate financial relief and assistance, support human and social recovery, and increase individual and community resilience to future disaster events.

Financial donations are the preferred form of assistance. A financial donation enables precise matching of assistance with need, it does not require transport and is an opportunity to spend locally, benefiting the local economy and assisting in the recovery of the community.

Financial donations may be managed internally within a government agency or disaster management group, or may be outsourced to, for example, a NGO. Either way, sufficient resources must be allocated to ensure proper governance processes are maintained.

Financial donations may be offered spontaneously, or in response to an appeal. Early and consistent public messaging is crucial to ensure spontaneous donations are appropriately directed.

In exceptional circumstances – where the scale of the disaster impact warrants significant assistance – the Queensland Government may activate a Disaster Relief Appeal. This must tempered with the risks of:

  • 'disaster appeal fatigue'

  • the expectation that every disaster will result in an appeal

  • a perception that funds from appeals can replace appropriate levels of insurance.

This is a significant risk in Queensland, where multiple disasters can occur each year.

A relief appeal can be activated through:

  • a Queensland Government donation to a range of NGOs who will administer a public appeal on behalf of the state, where the public donates direct to them (this is the most timely and efficient way to support affected communities by allowing the disbursement of urgent support services to be scaled to community need at the NGOs' discretion)

  • through the Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal Fund (PDRA) – a public appeal administered by the Queensland Government.

LDMGs may wish to establish a Mayoral Appeal Fund or similar, which could be administered internally or outsourced. If the complexity of the arrangements or the management of financial donations is beyond their capacity, the LDMG should refer offers of assistance to an appropriate NGO.

When an appeal is appropriate, receiving donations and distributing financial assistance to those in need is better suited and can be more efficiently managed through existing business models of NGOs.

Where no appeal fund exists, offers of financial assistance should be referred to reputable NGOs working with affected persons.

7.6.2 Volunteers

Volunteers are individuals, groups or organisations (including staff time offered by corporate and professional entities) that offer to assist a community affected by a disaster. Volunteers provide crucial support to disaster affected communities and individuals. They can help build community resilience and assist with disaster response and recovery.

Councils and organisations seeking volunteers can contact reputable volunteering NGOs for assistance with managing spontaneous volunteers.

7.6.3 Goods and Services

Donations of goods and services may be solicited or unsolicited, and can be offered by members of the public, community, businesses, organisations and corporate entities to support individuals and communities following disaster events. These offers may be for free, at cost or at a reduced or discounted rate.

Solicited goods and services are items or services which have been specifically requested and are based on the assessed needs of disaster affected individuals and communities.

Unsolicited goods and services are items or services that may or may not meet the assessed needs of the community and are therefore unwanted. Typically, these are best discouraged as the management of such items can divert resources from recovery efforts.

LDMGs may choose to manage the offers of goods and services or outsource the function to a nominated service delivery entity, such as GIVIT.

All corporate offers of goods and services should be referred to GIVIT including highly useful and relevant donations of goods and services, animal services, technical services and perishable foods.

P.1.201 Offers of Assistance Policy

M.1.202 Managing Offers of Assistance Manual

L.1.204 GIVIT Disaster and Emergency Recovery Service

7.6.4 Referral pathways

The referral pathways for the various types of assistance are summarised below.

Offer type

Partner organisation

Associated lead government organisation


If the Department of the Premier and Cabinet has activated the Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal:

Contact Smart Services Queensland on 13 QGOV (13 74 68) or 1300 300 768

Department of the Premier and Cabinet


If the Department of the Premier and Cabinet has activated an appeal via donation to an NGO:

Contact Smart Services Queensland on 13 QGOV (13 74 68) or 1300 300 768

Department of the Premier and Cabinet

 In all other circumstances, donations should be directed towards a reputable NGO or charity.

Contact Volunteering Queensland at

Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors

Goods and services

Contact GIVIT at

Queensland Reconstruction Authority

Corporate offersRefer based on the type of offer (financial, volunteers, goods and services)


The Department of Premier and Cabinet's Communication Services manage public messaging for any whole of government disaster response, including appeals for offers of assistance. Key activities in this response include:

  • collaboration with Smart Services Queensland on script content for telephone queries

  • activation and management of a specific website providing advice on how to donate

  • liaison with lead agencies to ensure up-to-date content.

7.7 Council to Council arrangements

C2C arrangements responds to the needs of councils affected by natural disasters and acknowledges the desire of unaffected councils to support their colleagues during these events.

Local requests for C2C support are made through the RFA process to the DDC via the LDMG. Additional information about the RFA process is in Chapter 5: Response.

Further information about the C2C program is available by contacting the LGAQ.

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