Disaster response in NSW to be overhauled following flood report
A single app will be used to coordinate disaster response and a flood rescue training centre will be built under recommendations made in the latest flood response report.
The 700-page document, compiled by former NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller and chief scientist Mary O’Kane, will be formally released in Lismore on Wednesday.
The report makes 28 recommendations which will all be supported either in principle or in full by the NSW Cabinet, 9News has learned.
Other changes include the formalisation of the “tinnie army” that performed hundreds of rescues during the flood disaster.
There will be a community first responders program and offer training to locals on how to conduct flood rescues on their private boats.
The State Emergency Service (SES) will partially merge with the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and flood emergencies will be coordinated out of RFS headquarters at Sydney Olympic Park.
Crucial SES administration and planning services will be taken over by the firefighters, and a single app will be established to coordinate disasters across all agencies.
The government’s report also concluded that the SES leadership failed in Lismore, but volunteers say this is disrespectful.
“Their own houses were being flooded as they were performing these flood rescues,” Jack Frost from SES Murwillumbah told 9News.
“At the end of the day that’s what we do – we’re here to help – we don’t get a cent so it’s all volunteer work,” Lismore SES volunteer Tim Bevan added.
Meanwhile, NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns said funding for the SES needs addressing.
“This is a wake-up call for everybody… just because there is no floods or bushfires… doesn’t mean you can’t put money into these frontline services.”
The report also confirmed Shane Fitzsimmons will lose his job as the Commissioner of Resilience NSW and the agency will be dismantled. Fitzsimmons will cease being Chairman of the State Emergency Management Committee.
Plus, a fifth deputy police commissioner will run disaster response and recovery.
However, 9News has learned former police commissioner Mick Fuller did not speak to or even brief his successor, current commissioner Karen Webb, on what she thought of the idea.
Plans for land swaps or government buybacks of flood-prone properties have not been finalised – with any scheme costing in excess of $1 billion.
9News understands cabinet wanted to see more work done on the buyback fund, which will anger the Lismore community desperate for clarity.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet will be in Lismore on Tuesday to formally release the report.