Under the Emergencies Act 2004, the ESA Commissioner has responsibility for the overall strategic direction and management of the emergency services, as well as for community education and improving community preparedness for emergencies. The Commissioner’s Office encompasses
a number of teams, and manages liaison and coordination within the ESA, as well as between the Directorate, the Minister’s Office and key stakeholders. The focus of the Commissioner’s Office in 2020-21 was on the lessons learned from the 2019-20 bushfire and storm season and supporting
the ACT during the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency.

ESA Structure Agency Collaboration

The Agency Collaboration team manages the provision of executive support functions for the ESA. The team works closely with senior executive and ministerial support staff within JACS, and with the office of the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. The team also undertakes coordination and liaison with other ACT Government directorates and agencies, and with external stakeholders.

The team supports the administration of honours, awards, and recognition nominations for ESA volunteers and staff. A highlight in 2020-21 was the work in developing the ACT’s National Medal nominations for the many volunteers and staff across all ACT Government directorates and agencies, who assisted during the 2019-20 bushfire and storm season.

Another significant body of work during 2020-21 was coordinating ESA’s submissions and input into the many reviews and inquiries into the 2019-20 bushfire and storm season, including the inquiry by the Legislative Assembly and the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.  The team worked closely with the Chief of Staff to ensure submissions were comprehensive, accurate and timely. Throughout 2019-20, the team also assisted in coordinating requests relating
to ESA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governance

ESA Governance, in conjunction with the Chief of Staff, coordinates reporting and accountability activities including annual reporting requirements and ESA’s strategic planning and strategic risk management processes. It coordinates agency reporting against whole of government and national government initiatives, including recommendations arising from the reviews into the 2019-20 bushfires, and ESA’s compliance with whole of government legislation.

Major activities undertaken in 2020-21 include the development of the ESA Business Plan and supporting business units in their business planning processes, initiating a policy framework for
ESA and progressing risk management implementation across ESA.

Public Information & Engagement Services

The Public Information & Engagement (PI&E) team is part of the Commissioner’s Office. The team supports the Commissioner’s legislative responsibilities in the delivery of community education and awareness about emergencies, improving community preparedness for emergencies, and communicating information, advice, and warnings to the community during an emergency.

PI&E provides media and communication support to each operational service and executive portfolio within the ESA. PI&E also works closely with the office of the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and the JACS Directorate. PI&E works closely with broader ACT Government communication teams and emergency service organisations in other jurisdictions.

Public Information

Although the 2020-21 high risk weather season was not as catastrophic as the previous season, the ESA remained on high alert due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the La Niña weather conditions that resulted in flooding in New South Wales during March 2021. During this time, in addition to providing support to NSW, PI&E members provided weather warnings and alerts to the ACT community as part of the Incident Management Team (IMT). The IMT was activated in response to the severe weather conditions and increased requests for assistance from ACT community members.

ESA PIE Team

Figure 16 - ACTESA Public Information and Engagement Overview 2020-21

Figure 16 - ACTESA Public Information and Engagement Overview 2020-21