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Barker: Central Region Minister’s CDEM Forum

20 March, 2008

Rick Barker

Address to the Central Region Minister’s CDEM Forum


Hon Rick Barker's, address to the Central Region Minister’s CDEM Forum, Gisbourne District Council Chambers, Gisbourne.


Acknowledgements

• Gisborne CDEM Group for hosting the forum.
• All of the attendees, the chairs of the Central region CDEM Groups and Coordinating Executive Groups.

Introduction

I am pleased to have this opportunity to talk to you today. Many of you will have attended the previous Central forum in November 2006 and the national forums in August 2006 and September 2007.

For those of you attending your first CDEM forum, I welcome you and hope you get as much out of this meeting as I will.
Recent events

The past year has been a busy one for your Groups. In this room today are people who were involved in the response to and recovery from the Ruapehu lahar in March 2007, Taranaki tornadoes and Hawke’s Bay flooding in July 2007, Gisborne earthquake in December 2007, Kapiti Coast flooding in January this year and also the Patea fire in February.

Given our location it’s appropriate for me to touch on the response to the Gisborne earthquake of 20 December last year. When I visited the area the following day I was impressed with what I saw from the local authorities.

I also understand that those of you not directly involved in the response to this event made offers of assistance to Gisborne. This type of cross boundary resource sharing is to be commended, and encouraged. I thank those of you involved for a job well done.
Each of these events was a test of our local, regional and national plans, procedures and relationships. As far as tests go, I believe we scored well.

While we have experienced reasonably frequent, small-scale, real events and responded to these appropriately, the government recognises that it is also important to test planning and procedures on a larger scale.

As you will be aware, Exercise Ruaumoko, the national level exercise based on an Auckland volcanic event, concluded last week. I have asked John Hamilton to share some of the experiences from Exercise Ruaumoko with you later today.

National priorities

At the national forum in July last year I outlined my three priorities for the year. These priorities are:

• tsunami risk management
• professional development
• international relationships

Since that forum we have made progress in each of these areas, as well as on a review of the CDEM framework. I would like to update you on each of these topics in turn.

Tsunami risk management continues to be a strong focus for me. By 30 June 2008 I want to see:

• a technical standard for tsunami warning signage;
• tsunami scenarios developed to inform hazard and risk assessment and response to distant source events;
• a report on Public Alerting Systems;
• the National Tsunami Contingency Plan finalised;
• consistent messaging on tsunami risks to support local level evacuation planning and public education; and
• a public education brochure for CDEM Groups to distribute.

Our tsunami work will also feed into the guidelines being developed for 2nd Generation Group Plans and Mass Evacuation.

The projects selected represent areas where national support and leadership is needed to assist CDEM Groups and TLAs. A consistent approach towards tsunami risk is needed to prevent duplication of effort in the CDEM sector.

Exercises and the implementation of the monitoring and evaluation programme plus ongoing research into tsunami risk mitigation will provide the mechanisms for evaluating our work.

Exercise Pacific Wave will provide opportunities to test national arrangements for tsunami events and a major national tsunami exercise is planned for 2011/12.

Professional development

Since I spoke to you at last year’s national forum, there have been a number of developments in the professional development area.

Since increasing capacity in the professional development area, the Ministry has been scoping the development of a CDEM competency framework in New Zealand.
This framework will support career pathways, work planning, recruitment and professional development for the whole of the CDEM sector.

Once competencies have been identified, we can see where the gaps are and develop new activities accordingly.

At the request of CDEM Groups, MCDEM has developed and delivered three pilot courses for the roles of Public Information Management, Recovery Manager and Controller. These courses were well attended and well received and are being run again in April.

An Elected Member’s Presentation Package was developed in September 2007 for recently elected members of local authorities. This was designed to increase their understanding of CDEM roles and responsibilities. The package was disseminated through CDEM Groups.

In addition, MCDEM sponsors regional and national conferences and continuing education activities. For example, a seminar was recently held on community behaviour following disasters and a Volcanic Short Course was run in conjunction with GNS Science, specifically for participants in Exercise Ruaumoko.

International relationships

I have always been a strong advocate for the strengthening of international relationships. Over the past two decades, disasters have increased in number and severity, requiring enhanced international cooperation and stronger international relationships.

We have developed a strategy for international engagement to strengthen relationships with regional neighbours such as Australia and the Pacific Island countries, as well as key partners such as the United Nations.

In particular, I see our relationship with the United States and FEMA as being especially important. Following on from my successful first meetings with FEMA in 2006, I am planning a further visit soon in order to continue to strengthen this relationship.

In December 2007 I endorsed an approach to international engagement which is based on three objectives:

One: To ensure that New Zealand’s response capability is supported by access to international assistance following a large emergency event (we want to be helped)

Two: To fulfil New Zealand’s international obligation to be a good ‘global citizen’ through response operations, capability development and the provision of international assistance (we want to help others)

Three: To increase New Zealand’s domestic resilience and CDEM capability through increased CDEM knowledge (we want to learn)

International activities will contribute to one or more of these objectives. The Ministry will be exploring opportunities to increase CDEM stakeholder’s capability by learning from international partners and stakeholders.

Framework review

The CDEM Act has been in force for five years, and the Plan has only been in force for 21 months. No strategic assessment of the implementation of the Act has been made and we consider that this should be the first step in a wider CDEM framework project. Parts of the Act have been tested “under fire” in civil defence emergencies, and there is no indication that significant amendment is needed at this stage.

To ensure that the project identifies all current issues, our approach will be to gather and consider other key information that will be produced over the next year, such as:

• Lessons learnt from Exercise Ruaumoko.
• The initial data from the Monitoring & Evaluation programme.
• Information from MCDEM’s lifelines and infrastructure work streams.

Review of the Guide and 2nd generation CDEM Group planning.
Officials will:
• assess how well the Act has been implemented, including gaps analysis and assessment of the alignment of key CDEM documents, including the Act, Strategy, Plan and Guide;
• analyse the information produced over 2008 from the work I mentioned; and
• ensure wide consultation with stakeholders.

We will report back to you in late 2008 with progress on this review.

Launch of the National CDEM Strategy

One part of the Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) framework in New Zealand is the National CDEM Strategy. As many of you are aware, the first Strategy was given the time period of 2003-2006.

It is my pleasure today to announce that the revised National CDEM Strategy has now been completed. The preparation of this document involved a wide range of agencies and many of you and your staff have been involved in the extensive consultation process. Since the government direction for CDEM has remained largely unchanged, the revised National CDEM Strategy is consistent with the previous version, in terms of the vision, goals and objectives. Greater emphasis has been placed on this being a strategy for all New Zealanders and the need for everyone to participate in creating a resilient New Zealand.

The Strategy provides an overarching framework for CDEM planning in New Zealand for central and local government, emergency services, lifeline utilities, other general infrastructure providers, businesses and volunteer agencies who are implementing the CDEM arrangements.

The Government expects that all other infrastructure providers, businesses and individuals will come to understand that they too, have an important role to play in achieving the Strategy’s vision of Resilient New Zealand and will plan accordingly.
This Strategy sets the direction for CDEM in New Zealand for the next ten years.

The Strategy contains four goals:

• increasing community awareness, understanding, preparedness and participation in civil defence emergency management;
• reducing the risks from hazards to New Zealand;
• enhancing New Zealand’s capability to manage civil defence emergencies; and
• enhancing New Zealand’s capability to recover from civil defence emergencies.

The Strategy came into force yesterday and we’ve got the printers working over time so we can get copies to you as soon as possible.

Closing remarks

I value the opportunity to speak with you as leaders in the CDEM sector and value your continued attendance at both the regional and national forums. This is an opportunity for me to learn about the issues facing your region as much as it is for you to hear about work occurring at the national level.

I look forward to your individual sessions.

ENDS

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