May 9, 2023 | Media Releases, Media Releases 2023

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) are proceeding with a restructure, centralising regional jobs, despite the Minister’s “preferred position.”

Dismayed Regional Support Officers employed by NEMA have contacted several National and Liberal MPs about an agency restructure that will centralise positions over the next 12 months.

Shadow Emergency Management Minister, Perin Davey, asked the Minister about the value of having locally based RSOs across Australia and whether there was any truth to the rumours of the restructure.

In response, Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt said RSOs play an important role and it was his view that we do need to retain a strong regional presence. He said he had made his view ‘very clear’ to the agency.

“Despite the Minister’s view, I have been contacted by several RSOs, as have other Opposition MPs, concerned about their jobs and the relationships, capacity, and recovery and resilience programs they have worked so hard to establish,” Senator Davey said.

“The RSOs I have spoken to said they were all called to a meeting and told that within 12 months their positions would be centralised into ‘hubs’, but they were also directed to secrecy.”

“One RSO I spoke to said the strength of their role is the shared knowledge and understanding they have with the local communities they work with because they live there.

“I was asked how they tell the Mayors, who they have worked with through drought, fire and flood, that they will now have to call someone based hundreds of kilometres away.”

Senator Davey questioned how centralising a workforce would provide any more efficiencies than the existing network of committed individuals working remotely and living through the same events, crisis, and challenges as the very people they need to service.

“These people are trusted, they are respected and they are dedicated to helping their regions be better prepared and more resilient into the future, the Minister knows that and made that clear in his answer to me.

“I take it, however, that the Agency has ignored the Minister’s preferred view and he is not prepared to direct them otherwise,” Senator Davey said.