A new vision that “we are all civil defence” is being emphasised in the proposed Waikato Civil Defence Emergency Management Group plan for the next five years.
The high-level plan was today signed off for public consultation by the group’s governing joint committee, made up of representatives from 11 local authorities and chaired by Waikato regional councillor Hugh Vercoe.
“One of the key things the plan emphasises is that we all need to work together tightly in the event of a disaster and our new Waikato-developed vision that ‘we are all civil defence’ sums this up well,” said Mr Vercoe.
“Everyone needs to do their bit to ensure we prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters in a way that protects lives and properties and helps communities bounce back from adversity.”
The new plan will build on an impressive response by the Waikato group to a 2009 report which gave it a score of being at 44 per cent capability. That was one of the lowest scores nationwide and in a region that faces a wide range of serious natural hazard risks.
But by 2014, following a major effort by the group, the score had hit 71 per cent, one of the most improved. There has also been increased collaboration between civil defence and services such as police, ambulance and health authorities. Through implementation of the new plan, the group is aiming to better implement its emergency management roles and to lift its rating above 80 per cent.
“Strong collaboration between all the partners involved in civil defence, and local communities, will be a key to boosting our score,” said Mr Vercoe.
“The plan stresses how all of us – from Government agency responders, through to the likes of iwi and business - have a role to play in responding to and recovering from disasters.”
The new draft plan spells out the importance of local response structures and co-operative arrangements with neighbouring civil defence groups, and how local councils now have a big role to play in welfare service co-ordination.
There is greater emphasis on the evaluation of risks associated with various hazards and having more information available to support good decision making during disasters.
The plan provides for civil defence working more closely with the voluntary sector – such as Volunteering Waikato – and business to build mutual support arrangements. There is also work planned to develop a new network of civil defence centres.
Building up of public information and warning systems capability as new technology becomes available is another aspect of the plan.
“The Waikato Civil Defence Emergency Management Group has a strong commitment to serving the region’s communities well when it comes to preparing for and responding to disasters,” said Mr Vercoe.
“The joint committee, our civil defence partners, and civil defence staff are confident this plan will help us build significantly on the improvements that have already been made in recent years.”
The draft plan will be available online from 20 June at www.waikatocivildefence.govt.nz. People will be able to give feedback via an online form, email and mail.