Tasmanian emergency management arrangements are scalable and flexible. They are underpinned by partnerships at every level.

Understanding the Principles of Emergency Management

Tasmania’s approach to emergency management is guided by a set of nationally agreed upon principles.
These national principles improve and provide consistency in policy and decision-making and support a disaster-resilient Tasmania (and Australia).

These Principles include, click to reveal;

The protection and preservation of human life (including both communities and emergency service personnel) will be paramount over all other objectives and considerations.

The development of emergency and disaster arrangements to embrace the phases of prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery (PPRR) across all hazards. These phases of emergency management are not necessarily sequential.

Relationships between emergency management stakeholders and communities are based on integrity, trust and mutual respect, building a team atmosphere and consensus. Planning and systems of work reflect common goals and all stakeholders work with a unified effort.

The bringing together of organisations and other resources to support emergency management response, relief and recovery. It involves the systematic acquisition and application of resources (organisational, human and equipment) in an emergency situation.

Emergency situations are constantly changing. Emergency management decisions may require initiative, creativity and innovation to adapt to new and rapidly emerging challenges. Emergency plans need to be agile to change and adapt to these new circumstances.

Emergency managers use sound risk management principles and processes in prioritising, allocating and monitoring resources to manage the risks from hazards.

Everyone understands their own responsibility in an emergency, and the responsibility of others. Communities and individuals understand the risk. This encourages all stakeholders to prevent, prepare for, and to plan for how they will safely respond to and recover from an emergency situation.

The ability of a system, community or society exposed to hazards to resist, absorb, accommodate, adapt to, transform and recover from the effects of a hazard in a timely and efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of its essential basic structures and functions through risk management.

Information is crucial to decision making and to the preservation of life. Emergency managers need to support common information systems and are responsible for providing and sharing clear, targeted and tailored information to those who need it, and to those at risk, to enable better decision making by all stakeholders.

Emergency Management efforts must be integrated across sectors, not progressed in silos, ensuring the engagement of the whole of governments, all relevant organisations and agencies, the private sector and the community.

All sectors continuously learn and innovate to improve practices and share lessons, data and knowledge so that future emergency management is better and the overall cost of impact of emergencies and disasters is reduced. Continuous monitoring, review and evaluation should examine the processes, timelines and outcomes of plans. Review informs communities and displays transparency and accountability. Review also enables facilitation of the adaptive change process with communities.

What are Tasmania’s hazards?


Tasmania’s low humidity, temperate weather and forest mean that bushfire is the most prominent natural hazard.

Tasmania has low levels of animal, plant and marine disease. Maintaining this pest and disease-free status is very important for rural communities and crucial for primary production industries. As an island state, it is easier to control movements through the air and seaports. Click below to reveal other hazards affecting the Tasmanian community:

Tasmania’s low humidity, temperate weather and forest mean that bushfire is the most prominent natural hazard. Other hazards affecting the Tasmanian community include:

  • flood
  • severe storms
  • coastal inundation
  • heatwave
  • landslide
  • pandemic influenza
  • earthquake
  • tsunami


  • Bio-security emergency
  • Environmental contamination emergency
  • Hazardous material


  • Building / infrastructure failure
  • Dam failure
  • Cyber emergency
  • Intentional violence


  • Energy supply
  • Transport
  • Communications
  • Water supply TasWater
  • Financial services


  • Public health emergency
  • including pandemic influenza, heatwave
  •  drinking water supply contamination, food contamination
  • radiological hazardous materials (unintended


Why is the Emergency Management Act (2006) important?

The provisions of the Act prevail where there are any inconsistencies with provisions of any other Tasmanian Acts that relate to emergency management.


The Emergency Management Act provides for:

  • The protection of life, property and the environment in the event of an emergency
  • Establishment of Tasmania’s overarching emergency management arrangements.

There are four categories of powers:

  1. General risk identification, assessment and management
  2. Emergency powers
  3. State of alert
  4. State of emergency.

The Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management is responsible for the administration of the Act. The department responsible to that Minister – the Department of Police, Fire and Emergency Management (DPFEM) – administers the Act.


What is an ‘emergency’? When is it a ‘disaster’?

The terms are used throughout the TEMA and are defined below:

  • Emergency: an event, actual or imminent, which endangers or threatens to endanger life, property or the environment, and which requires a significant and coordinated response
  • Disaster: a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society at any scale due to hazardous events interacting with conditions of exposure, vulnerability and capacity, leading to one or more of the following: human, material, economic or environmental losses and impacts.

‘Emergency’ and ‘disaster’ are used interchangeably throughout the United Nations Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction – the Sendai Framework.  The Framework is the new global blue print to build resilience to disasters and it suggests that, ‘the expected outcome over the next 15 years is to realise substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries.’  

The Tasmanian Disaster Resilience Strategy is closely aligned with the Sendai Framework. It is a simplified version of the framework adapted to the Tasmanian context. The Strategy provides a vision of a more disaster resilient Tasmania where, “using the best available evidence, everyone works together to reduce disaster risk and to prepare to withstand and adapt to the impacts of disasters.”

The  Tasmanian Disaster Resilience Strategy has four goals:

  1. Understanding risk-everyone understands the risks affecting them
  2. Working together-everyone collaborates to reduce risks and prepares for disasters
  3. Reducing disaster risk-everyone reduces risks in ways that have everyday benefits where possible
  4. Being prepared for disasters-when a disaster occurs, everyone knows what to do and can do it.

The video below gives you an excellent overview of the Sendai Framework and Disaster risk reduction.

The  importance of the Governance/Administrative Framework for Tasmanian Emergency Management

The Tasmanian government has primary responsibility for emergency management legislation, policies, and frameworks within Tasmania. Tasmania’s governance structures for emergency management aims to enable effective coordination across key players. Partnerships across all levels of government and sectors underpin these arrangements.

Click below to gain an understanding of the structures for emergency management in Tasmania:

The MCEM provides the following:

  • Ministerial-level strategic policy oversight of measures to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies
  • The Premier chairs the MCEM
  • Imposes functions relating to EM on : the SEMC, the State Recovery Coordinator and the  State Recovery  Advisory.
  • REMC sub-committees (if established per s16(2) of the Act)
  • Links with hazard-specific (regional) governance
  • Regional Social Recovery.
  • MEMC sub-committees (if established per s22(2) of the Act)
  • Affected Area Recovery Committee.

Why are Emergency Management Plans important?

Management Authorities emphasize the importance to manage plans collaboratively in a ‘Plan, Implement, Review and Report’ cycle. The State Emergency Service maintains a management system for emergency management plans, including Municipal Emergency Management Plans. State Emergency Management Plans (SEMPs) outline the specific arrangements to manage the risks posed by a specific hazard.

The Management Authority responsible for a specified hazard or event is responsible for planning for that hazard and exercising the plan. In some cases, there may be sub-plans for extra levels of detail or associated plans to support arrangement delivery.

The basic requirements for an Emergency Management Committee are:

  • Undertake an assessment of the risks associated with the geographic area or specific hazard
  • Prepare an emergency management plan for the area or areas for which the committee has the responsibility
  • Ensure the plan details the arrangements, governance and coordination of emergency management within the Municipal Emergency Management Committee area.

Emergency management arrangements/plans are maintained by:

  • The SEMC (comprising the TEMA and the range of SEMPs)
  • The three REMC’s
  • The MEMCs (and combined area MEMCs).

The Municipal Emergency Management guidelines (MEMG) provides the main source of guidance for municipal emergency management.