The State Emergency Relief and Recovery Plan, established under the Emergency Management Act 1986 (Vic), (Emergency Management Act), provides for local, regional and state emergency recovery activities to operate concurrently at multiple levels.2
The State recovery coordination structure for the Hazelwood mine fire is set out in Figure 4.61.
Figure 4.61 The State recovery coordination structure during the Hazelwood mine fire3
The State Crisis and Resilience Council is the peak body for advising government on state emergency management policy and strategy. The Council was established in April 2013 under the Emergency Management Act 2013 (Vic). Membership is made up of heads of government departments and key agencies, such as Victoria Police.
DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES
In accordance with the Emergency Management Act, the Emergency Management Manual Victoria provides that the Department of Human Services (DHS) is the principal agency for relief and recovery coordination in Victoria at a state and regional level. In an emergency, DHS delivers social recovery support, including information, financial support, personal and psychosocial support, and temporary accommodation.4
DHS also operates a shared service with the Department of Health, called Health and Human Services Emergency Management, which plans and delivers relief and recovery functions.5
The State Recovery Coordinator is the individual responsible within DHS for coordinating recovery activities across Victoria.6
DHS RESPONSE TO THE HAZELWOOD MINE FIRE
On 14 January 2014, Health and Human Services Emergency Management activated the Health and Human Services State Emergency Management Centre. The Centre was established in response to bushfires across Victoria, and coordinated the DHS response to the Hazelwood mine fire. During the mine fire, Health and Human Services Emergency Management issued daily situation reports to a variety of community service organisations.7
DHS also produced a weekly relief action plan for the Latrobe Valley area, which detailed the current situation, the status of relief and recovery services, and the weekly actions and objectives of designated responsible parties.8
DHS assisted the Department of Health to coordinate a number of respite measures. This is discussed further in Chapter 4.6 Health response.
LATROBE CITY COUNCIL
Latrobe City Council stated to the Board that elements of relief and recovery were being planned and delivered at the same time during the Hazelwood mine fire. That is, the community was simultaneously provided with resources to minimise the effect of the mine fire and resources to assist the community to return to a pre-mine fire level of functioning.
The Latrobe City Council retained responsibility for coordinating recovery operations, however given the duration and scale of the fire and its impacts, DHS supported the Council in this function.9 According to Council, this led to some community confusion about their different roles and responsibilities.10
Mr John Mitchell, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Latrobe City Council, told the Board that ‘this time was the first time that in the recovery phase we had a dual control in terms of DHS and the Council,’11 and that as a result, there were more relationship and coordination issues involved.12
Mr Alan Hall, State Recovery Coordinator, told the Board that ‘it remains the Council’s responsibility under the Emergency Management legislation to manage recovery at a municipal level’.13
Other local, regional and state-based organisations worked closely with government to assist with community relief and recovery relevant to the Hazelwood mine fire. These organisations included the Red Cross, the Victorian Council of Churches, the Salvation Army, and the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA).