Wednesday, April 17, 2024

New legislation to unite Queensland’s frontline

Major legislative changes are set to unite Queensland’s frontline responders across police, emergency services and marine rescue.

Queensland Police Minister, Mark Ryan said the new laws will forge a new generation of disaster management and emergency services response in Queensland and be backed by a funding package of up to $578 million over five years from 2023-2024 and $142 million per annum ongoing.

“Queensland experiences more natural disasters than any other state in the country and it is crucial that we continue to be well prepared,’’ Mr Ryan said.

“These Bills will help our emergency services to modernise our service delivery arrangements, allocate resources where it’s needed most, and simplify our operational structures.

“They will strengthen the State’s ability to support local councils and communities effectively in the management of disasters in Queensland.”

The proposed Emergency Services Reform Amendment Bill 2023 will support coordination between Marine Rescue Queensland, SES and the QPS, boosting and enhancing the State’s response capability.

Mr Ryan said the QPS, SES and marine rescue volunteers had a long-standing and effective working relationship and the amendments would ensure the efforts of volunteers continue to be strengthened by an overarching support structure.

The Marine Rescue Queensland Bill will see the establishment of Marine Rescue Queensland, a new entity aimed at strengthening the coordination of volunteers contributing to marine rescue services.

With a new identity and dedicated annual baseline budget of approximately $27 million for frontline support, resources, vessels and equipment to support communities on the water, Marine Rescue Queensland will be recognised as Queensland’s integrated marine service, said Minister Ryan.

“Marine rescue volunteers play a critical role in keeping the community safe on the water and I am excited to have them join Marine Rescue Queensland,” he said.

Volunteers from the Volunteer Marine Rescue Association Queensland and the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association will be able to join Marine Rescue Queensland once it is established in 2024.

The Minister said the SES will be hosted by the QPS, gaining its own operational budget, allowing for a strategic approach to critical disaster and emergency responses under the State Emergency Service Bill 2023.

He said the SES would benefit from a substantial increase to its annual baseline budget to approximately $60 million for more staff and more resources, including crucial safety equipment, vehicles and vessels.

“A key strength of these reforms will continue to be the relationships with the community, local governments and those that volunteer to help and support.”

“Everyone in the community sees the extraordinary efforts of our dedicated SES and marine volunteers to support the safety of our community and we are committed to enhancing their capabilities through these reforms,” said Mr Ryan.

The reform outcomes will come into effect by 1 July 2024.

Queensland’s emergency services and disaster management reforms stem from a series of independent reviews including the ‘Independent review of Queensland Fire and Emergency Services’ and the ‘Review of Queensland’s Disaster Management Arrangements (QDMA)’.

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