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The Queensland Department of Education and Training (DET) is responsible for delivering educational services to approximately 515,000 Queensland students through about 1234 State Schools. This is supported by over 81,000 employees throughout Queensland.
The department is a pillar within all communities and for significant periods has responsibility for our most valuable and vulnerable resource - our children. That responsibility includes their safety and security along with the safety and security of staff and other stakeholders engaged within educational precincts.
The DET Disaster and Emergency Management Arrangements follows the direction set by the Disaster Management Strategic Policy Framework (QLD Govt) and it applies to those disasters and emergencies (natural hazards and threats from human-caused events) that occur, or are likely to occur, within or impact on:
The department has developed this approach and arrangements to meet the challenges of disasters which span the planning, preparation, response and recovery phases of disaster management.
Queensland's disaster management arrangements are outlined in the Disaster Management Act 2003, and the State Disaster Management Plan.
This legislation and its supporting plan applies to any natural hazards or human-caused event that causes, or has the potential to cause, serious community disruption that requires a significant coordinated response by the State and other entities to help the community recover from the disruption.
There is a range of legislation, key policies and procedures which direct and support DET activities in planning, preparing for, responding to and recovering from disasters and emergencies including:
The Department has adopted a framework which outlines the system applied to manage disasters or emergencies. The system includes people, processes and structures to deliver outcomes.
The framework has three levels which are the:-
Underpinning the Department’s approach to disaster and emergency management are a set of general principles:-
The adherence of these principles during the management of responses has an underlying effect of supporting staff to lead and take action.
The Prevention Phase involves conducting an assessment to identify potential hazards and develop procedures and policies designed to mitigate or prevent damage. Prevention activities include:
ESMU is responsible for developing state-wide emergency management policy for the Department, providing emergency advice and assistance to state schools and DET workplaces, including operational response services until they move into the Executive Response Team. It also provides advice to assist state schools and DET workplaces review response and recovery procedures for their Emergency Response Plans (ERP).
Every government workplace and state schools in Queensland is required to have a documented ERP as part of its normal operational activities. The purpose of the ERP is to:
Involves the taking of preparatory measures including final development or testing of plans and procedures to ensure that, if an event occurs, state schools and DET workplaces can make decisions and assign resources to cope with the effects of the event. Preparedness activities include:
With a focus on summer weather events, the above representation is effective. However when considering the broad nature of disasters or emergencies this becomes less useful as responses (and subsequent recoveries) need to be ready for year-round implementation and so the prevention and preparation phases are actually concurrent activities. This poses some additional challenges for the Department to be ready 24/7 and for 365 days per year.
The Department’s response framework identifies three internal levels of command and control, being the strategic (Executive), operational (Regional) and tactical (School) levels. An additional level, the State level, also exists and this is the interface into the Queensland Disaster Management Committee (QDMC). This structure is consistent with the State arrangements, particularly the emergency services response structures and allows for alignment with other agencies as well as providing delegated decision making authority at each level for operational efficiency.
When the department's disaster management arrangements are enacted the school level is referred to as the tactical level within the tiered departmental structure.
Within a school the Principal assumes the role of the School Response Controller (SRC) and leads the School Response Team (SRT). The SRC directly controls the school's resources at the incident and implements direct actions that will achieve the objectives of the school's Emergency Response Plan.
The key role of the SRC is to:
The school's disaster and emergency response will be guided by:
By 1 September, all schools will upload an Emergency Response Plan into the department's Central storage repository.
Quick Reference Guide - Storing general documents in BEMIR (DOC, 1.1 MB).
In planning your response through your ERP, the following information, tools, documents and links could prove useful.;
Disaster and Emergency Communications Strategy provides a summary of the phases of an event and suggested internal and external stakeholder communications opportunities for schools and regions to consider.
This also provides templates for Principals to use when communicating with parents following bomb threats and armed attack threats on schools.
All staff and community members are reminded not to access the school site after a disaster or emergency event until advised by the Principal that it is safe to do so. Schools impacted will be subjected to assessments to determine any damage by Building and Asset Services (BAS) and then by the Principal to consider the suitability to resume normal services. A Suitability Assessment Checklist is attached to the school's Emergency Response Plan.
During a disaster or emergency a school, or buildings or areas within a school, may be used to provide safer locations or facilities for students, staff or the community.
Quick Reference Guide - Use of DET facilities in a disaster or emergency (PDF, 63 KB) provides principals with information regarding their role and responsibilities.
Principals with Cyclone Shelters need to be familiar with the Memorandum of Agreement for the facility.
Under exceptional circumstances the Principal may be approached by a Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) or the Emergency Services to use a non-designated facility during a disaster or emergency as an Assembly Point or Evacuation Centre. Principals should consult with the Regional Director on the matter. Where circumstances may preclude the Principal from consulting, the principal may verbally authorise the use of the facility to support the disaster or emergency operations.
User Hire Agreement - Cyclone Shelters (DOC 1.2 MB) ensures venue hirers accept that the agreement may be suspended if the venue is required for disaster management and operations by the Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) or the Department of Housing and Public Works (DHPW).
Schools should be prepared to follow instructions regarding evacuation of their area, if advised to do so by the LDMG.
The department is committed to supporting Queenslanders affected by natural disasters and provides range of resources to support students, staff and parents. Access the department's
Natural disaster resources to locate information including Facts Sheets, key messages following traumatic events and hyperlinks to supporting agencies.
Students should be recorded as absent with a reason code 'N' when an extreme weather event or natural disaster means they cannot attend school. 'N' code absences will not be counted on school report cards or in school absence data. For further information refer to the roll marking procedure.
Staff should be familiar with the school's Emergency Response Plan including School Response Team members and communication strategies to disseminate information during the response and recovery phases.
The department's provides all employees and their family members affected by a disaster or emergency with counselling services. For more information access the
Employee Assistance Program (EAP) webpage (DET employees only) or contact Optum on 1800 604 640.
Staff are also able to access paid special leave to deal with the effects of natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, severe storms or bushfires under
Special Leave Directive 9/13 (PDF, 63 KB). Contact the Principal for more information.
Natural disasters and severe weather events website provides information to help Queenslanders prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters and severe weather.
For information about recovery assistance following a disaster for affected Queenslanders, visit
Disaster Management - Disaster relief activations
These four small videos explore the real experiences of various Queensland schools in the planning for, responding to and recovering from natural disasters.