Handbook Collection

Emergency Planning Handbook

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The economic cost of emergencies in Australia over the past decade averages $18.2 billion per year, and the real cost in terms of human suffering and environmental damage is larger. A key to minimising the cost and effects of emergencies, after all reasonable risk reduction measures have been taken, is effective emergency planning.

Emergency planning plays an important role in the development of Australia’s disaster resilience capability. The Emergency Planning Handbook reflects changes in the field of disaster risk reduction, emergency management and more broadly in society since the publication of the previous Emergency Planning Manual (2004).

The handbook contextualises key messages for emergency planning as considered in the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience (COAG 2011), National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework (Australian Government Department of Home Affairs 2018), Profiling Australia’s Vulnerability (Australian Government Department of Home Affairs 2018), the Australian Disaster Preparedness Framework (Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, 2018) and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015).

The handbook provides nationally agreed principles for good practice in emergency planning and draws on and complements current practices. The handbook introduces the strategic context and importance of emergency planning, the emergency planning process, the potential elements of an emergency plan, the actions needed to implement the plan and to monitoring and evaluation.

Additionally, it introduces the application of a project management approach to the development of an emergency plan and recognises the need to plan for uncertainty. The approach in the handbook can be applied to developing emergency plans for all hazards and may cover all the phases of prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery.

About this handbook

Handbook Showcase webinar

Guest speakers: 

David Parsons, Handbook Writer, Crisis Management Australia 

David is an Adjunct Lecturer at Charles Sturt University, a visiting fellow with the Joint Centre for Disaster Research at Massey University and a founding member of Response and Recovery Aotearoa New Zealand. He holds a Masters in Emergency Management, degrees in Social Science and Education and has completed an Emergency Management Fellowship with the Emergency Management Academy in New York and the Leadership in Crises Program at the Harvard University.

David previously managed Sydney Water’s Emergency Management and Counter Terrorism Program, established the Water Services Sector Group within the Australian Government’s Trusted Information Sharing Network and was a member of the Critical Infrastructure Advisory Council for 14 years. Prior to commencing at Sydney Water David served as the Regional Emergency Management Officer for Central West NSW where he was awarded a Ministerial Commendation for his efforts

David’s company Crisis Management Australia provides a range of specialist emergency management services to jurisdictions across Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific and Europe.

Helen Foster, Chief Risk and Resilience Officer, Bureau of Meteorology

Helen Foster is the Chief Risk and Resilience Officer at the Bureau of Meteorology. Her role incorporates risk management, compliance, and protective security in addition to resilience activities including crisis management, business continuity and incident management.

Helen has a Masters in Emergency Management, a Graduate Diploma in Technology (Risk Management) and a Bachelor of Arts in Information Science. She has over 15 years’ experience as a risk manager within public and private sectors.

Helen was actively involved in the Attorney Generals Trusted Information Sharing Network and is a Working Group convenor on the International Standards Organisation (ISO) Technical Committee TC262 - Risk Management and the Standards Australia Risk Management Committee – OB7.

Kirsten Tanner, Emergency Management Coordinator for Macedon Ranges Shire Council

Kirsten has a Bachelor of Emergency Management from Charles Sturt University and has worked in various roles across Government for about twenty years.

Her passion for EM focusses on building resilience as a way to improve recovery outcomes, advocating for community led recovery and gaining a deep understanding of consequence through before, during and after emergency events.


Amanda Leck, Former Executive Director AIDR