A disaster is defined as a serious disruption in a community caused by the impact of an event that requires a significant coordinated response by governments and other entities, to help the community recover from the disruption (Queensland Disaster Management Act, 2003).
When it comes to disaster and emergency management, our focus is to:
- maintain the safety and wellbeing of students, staff, contractors, visitors and volunteers in our schools and workplaces
- coordinate our regional response in support of the local community
- minimise the impact of the event in relation to damage to government property and facilities including schools
- facilitate the return of schools and workplaces to normal operations as soon as possible, where safe and practicable.
We adopt an 'all hazards approach' to planning response strategies for disasters and emergencies. Our response aligns to the Queensland Disaster Management Arrangements (QDMA) and will be coordinated at the executive, regional and school levels.
Arrangements at the department
Our structural arrangements align with the QDMA and are scalable as an event develops. There are 3 key levels:
- executive—coordination of whole-of-department response
- regional—any one of the department's eight regions across Queensland
- school—individual state schools.
A response to an event may commence at the school level with the principal managing the incident. If the situation escalates, the principal may request support and resources from the regional level. In circumstances where further support is required, executive level activation will facilitate additional support and guidance in managing the event.
Where it is anticipated that the impact of an event may be significant, the Director-General (or their delegate) may direct the department to activate the Executive Coordination Centre prior to the event occurring.
Department's activities across the phases of disaster management
To identify significant risks, we must understand our risk exposure based on the department's Enterprise Risk Management Framework and regional risk assessments aligned to the Queensland emergency risk management framework. Using a risk informed approach, strategies for the prevention of significant disruption to departmental operations will be developed and implemented. This will lessen the impact on students, staff, contractors, volunteers and visitors to our schools and workplaces, and limit damage to the department's facilities and assets. The Disaster, Emergency and School Security team will undertake risk assessments at state and regional levels for Queensland state schools for consideration when developing disaster management plans.
In order to be prepared for a disaster or emergency event, we must ensure we have appropriate levels of capacity (human and material resources), capability (skills and knowledge) and readiness, to support effective response and recovery actions. The department will ensure that staff at all levels who have disaster management and/or business continuity responsibilities, are appropriately trained. Exercises will be conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of disaster and business continuity plans, and to assess staff understanding and knowledge specific to their responsibilities.
A constant state of operational readiness of assets, resources and personnel is required for the activation of coordination centres. Members will be nominated to, and participate in, state, district and local disaster management and functional recovery groups. They will be required to participate in appropriate training and education programs.
In the event a disaster or emergency occurs, a coordinated response will be required, both within the department and in support of a multi-agency response at the state, district and local levels, as deemed necessary. Coordination centres at different levels will be activated to:
- enact Emergency Response Plans (ERP) and Business Continuity Plans (BCP)
- provide coordinated support to impacted schools, regions and departmental facilities
- ensure consistent and appropriate representation in disaster management groups
- appoint liaison officers to non-departmental coordination centres
- ensure emerging issues, risks, responses and general situational awareness is communicated to relevant groups
- engage with local disaster management groups regarding the use of and access to, school facilities as cyclone shelters, places of refuge and other sheltering options
- temporarily close a school or workplace where required.
In support of recovery efforts following a disaster or emergency event, the department will:
- facilitate the return of affected schools and workplaces to normal operations as soon as safe and practicable
- monitor the welfare of staff, students and volunteers and provide information and referrals to support agencies
- nominate officers to participate in and support the delivery of the Queensland Recovery Plan (PDF, 5.9MB) and Terms of Reference for the state, district and local human and social recovery groups, and state building recovery group
- transition facilities used as a shelters or places of refuge, to business as usual
- ensure corporate and regional staff are available to support community recovery efforts through the Community Recovery Ready Reserve (departmental staff search 'Community Recovery Ready Reserve' in OnePortal)
- drive actions to implement improvements in any phase of disaster management.