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Commissioner announced

Published 20/09/2013

Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley is proposed to take over-arching responsibility for emergencies as Victoria’s inaugural Emergency Management Commissioner Designate.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Kim Wells told Parliament today that the role of Emergency Management Commissioner would be a key component of the Victorian Coalition Government’s reforms to emergency management in Victoria set out in last year’s White Paper.

“The White Paper reforms will change the way we prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies. They represent the first major overhaul of Victoria’s emergency management system in 27 years; the last was in 1986,” Mr Wells said.

“Mr Lapsley, who has served as Victoria’s Fire Services Commissioner since 2010, will be responsible for improving the way we manage emergencies.

“During major emergencies, it is proposed he will take an over-arching management role to ensure a systematic and co-ordinated response; it will be his job to ensure there is no duplication or overlapping of roles.”

Mr Wells told Parliament today it was important that the identity of the proposed new Commissioner became known as Victoria enters the fire season.

“The necessary legislative changes will be presented to Parliament and subject to the usual scrutiny and passage through both Houses,” Mr Wells said.

Mr Lapsley has a long history in emergency management; he served as a volunteer firefighter before taking on leadership roles within the CFA and NSW Fire Brigades. In addition, as a leader within Victoria SES, he led the organisation’s transition from government department to statutory authority.

In 2007 Mr Lapsley took responsibility for emergency response in the Victorian health sector as Director Emergency Management – Health and Human Services.

Mr Wells said Mr Lapsley’s proposed appointment as Commissioner Designate was the beginning of a broader suite of reforms that would build on the Coalition Government’s response to the Bushfires Royal Commission, toward the broader all-hazards approach recommended by Neil Comrie’s Floods’ Review.

“In due course the Coalition Government will announce further details of the formation of a new agency, Emergency Management Victoria,” Mr Wells said.

This agency will be the new umbrella body for Victoria’s emergency management sector and will maximise the ability of agencies to plan and work together and share resources.

“We will also introduce an Inspector-General to work closely with the sector to improve its performance and encourage best practice, and a Volunteer Consultative Forum to ensure emergency management volunteers have their say.

“It is vital to ensure certainty of operation arrangements for the upcoming fire season. Mr Lapsley will take a lead role in emergency response during the summer with his existing responsibilities as Fires Services Commissioner. It is proposed he will assume his new role early next year.”