The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is Australia’s National Disaster Management Organisation.
NEMA manages the Australian Government Disaster Response Plan (COMDISPLAN) under which states and territories may seek Australian Government assistance when the scale of an emergency or disaster exceeds or exhausts the jurisdiction’s response capacity and capabilities, or where resources cannot be mobilised in sufficient time.
NEMA delivers programs, policies and services that strengthen Australia's national security and emergency management capability.
Australian Government National Situation Room
The National Situation Room (NSR) is a 24/7 crisis management information and whole-of-government coordination facility provided by NEMA.
The facility provides all-hazards (split into Natural and Human-induced) monitoring and situational awareness for domestic and international events affecting Australia or Australian interests.
It is directly connected to state and territory emergency centres, and maintains situational awareness on a 24/7 basis over 5 shifts.
Some examples that the NSR has been involved in include:
- the Tham Luang Cave Rescue 2018
- Black Summer Bushfires 2019 – 2020
- Afghanistan Repatriation 2021
- COVID19 Response 2021- 2022
- the Eastern Australia Floods 2022.
The National Situation Room also coordinates physical Australian Government emergency assistance and manages the National Security Hotline, vital to Australia's national counter-terrorism efforts.
National Coordination Mechanism
The National Coordination Mechanism within NEMA brings together Australian Government, states, territories, industry and community organisations to ensure effective and efficient consequence management of events across the emergency management continuum.
Following its successful management of the non-health consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Coordination Mechanism (NCM) has been embedded into the Australian Government’s crisis management architecture and:
- Is at the centre of the Australian Government Crisis Management Framework.
- Is a whole-of-government resource that engages the Australian Government, state and territory governments, industry and non-government organisations to respond to national crisis situations.
- Facilitates rapid problem definition, shared situational awareness and ownership of solutions to drive the stabilisation of issues of concern.
- Provides time and space for the ordinary workings of government to exercise legislative, policy and other levers to find solutions.
- Provides flexible, scalable and vector-agnostic support.
- No organisation “owns” a seat on the NCM. Organisations are invited based on expertise, experience or potential role in identifying and implementing stabilising actions.
- Is not a decision-making mechanism. It exerts no command and control – engagement with the NCM is entirely voluntary.
- Is supported by NEMA’s Crisis Appreciation and Strategic Planning methodology and broader crisis operations capabilities (including the National Situation Room, National Joint Common Operating Picture, and the Crisis Coordination Team).
Review of national plans
Under the Australian Government Crisis Management Framework, the Minister for Emergency Management is responsible for response and recovery of a number of hazards.
NEMA undertakes a rolling review of national-level plans to ensure they remain fit for purpose.
Higher Risk Weather Season Preparedness
NEMA’s annual Higher Risk Weather Season (HRWS) Preparedness Program prepares Ministers, Members of Parliament, Australian Government agencies, state and territory agencies, not-for-profit organisations, the media and industry stakeholders for the upcoming HRWS. The program includes tailored briefings on the climate outlook and Australian Government capabilities, materials and exercises.
Crisis Appreciation and Strategic Planning (CASP) methodology
The CASP methodology was created to ensure the Australian Government, states and territories are prepared to respond to increasingly complex, concurrent, consecutive and compounding crises.
NEMA uses CASP to assist agencies to define the environment, analyse priorities and conduct a gap analysis, identify lines of effort and implement a successful crisis response. CASP defines the most likely and most dangerous outcomes and guides planners through a repeatable process for response to all hazards.
The National Crisis Exercising and Lessons Capability (NCEC) designs and implements the national crisis exercise program for multi-jurisdictional and multi-agency events that require national coordination and consequence management. It also supports the uplift of lessons management, exercise management and continuous improvement.
Working with Australian Government, state and territory, community and industry stakeholders, NEMA is designing and delivering a fit for purpose national exercise program that considers and reviews preparation for, response to and recovery from severe to catastrophic events.
The capability is available to support multi-agency and multi-jurisdictional exercising, lessons management, continuous improvement and exercising and lessons capability uplift.
Lessons and continuous improvement
NEMA utilises the Observations – Insights – Lessons Identified – Lessons Learned (OILL) methodology as set out in the Australian Disaster Resilience Handbook for Lessons Management. NEMA evaluates internal operations and the national exercising program, and is developing a strategy and governance mechanism to further embed continuous improvement across NEMA’s response arrangements.
Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience
The Australian Government also established the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR). AIDR enhances disaster resilience through innovative thought leadership, professional development and knowledge sharing.
It works with government, community, research, education and the private sector to share extensive knowledge and experience in Australia and abroad.
Australian Tsunami Warning System
The National Emergency Management Agency, the Bureau of Meteorology and Geoscience Australia collaborate to provide the Australian Tsunami Warning System.
It delivers timely and effective tsunami warnings to the Australian population. This system includes the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre, public education, national crisis coordination and support to state and territory emergency agencies.
Australian Climate Service
As a nation we need to better understand climate and natural hazard threats and make the necessary changes needed to reduce our exposure and vulnerability to these events. Otherwise, the devastation from events will continue to grow.
Across the Australian Government we hold world-leading expertise, data and information that can support better planning and preparedness for natural hazards and enable better response and recovery to disasters when they strike.
The Australian Climate Service will support better planning and preparedness for climate and natural hazards, and better response and recovery to disasters when they strike.
Established by the Australian Government in 2021, the service's work is guided by recommendations in the Royal Commission on National Natural Disaster Arrangements. The service is a partnership, made up of world leading science, information and expertise from the Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia, CSIRO and Australian Bureau of Statistics.