Waikato’s capability to prepare for and deal with civil defence emergencies has improved very significantly in the last five years, a new Ministry of Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) report has confirmed.
The ministry’s latest capability assessment report for the Waikato CDEM Group – the first such report nationally in a new series – gave Waikato a score of 71.3 out of 100, compared to its score of just 44.7 in 2009.
If Waikato had scored 71.3 back in 2009 this would have put it amongst the top CDEM groups in the country.
“The latest score is more than 25 points higher and compares to an improvement target of 58 set by the ministry,” said regional councillor Hugh Vercoe, chair of the multi-agency joint committee which oversees the Waikato CDEM Group.
“This underpins just how far Waikato has come over five years, bearing in mind it’s expected other groups will also advance when they are re-assessed.”
The ministry report covers all elements of the Waikato Group, which includes regional and local councils, the regional council-hosted group emergency management office, emergency services, welfare agencies and lifelines/utility providers. Group members did a self-assessment which was then analysed by the ministry before it delivered its overall ranking for Waikato.
The ministry’s director John Hamilton said in a letter of congratulations that the Waikato Group has made “significant advances in a number of areas and has made improvements across all goal areas”.
Mr Vercoe said: “This report’s much better score was expected as it reflects the very solid progress we knew we had made and shows the value of the extra resources we have put into civil defence regionally since the last ministry report in 2009.
“Those working in Waikato civil defence are to be congratulated for lifting the region’s performance. Our key task now will be to keep making improvements in the areas where we still need to develop. I’m confident our professional staff are overseeing a comprehensive work programme which will see the required gains made over the next few years.
“In the meantime, the wider Waikato public can have confidence we have established a very sound basis for providing comprehensive civil defence planning, co-ordination and response in our region and we are collectively committed to lifting our game even further.”
The extra resources and measures which have helped the Waikato CDEM group lift its performance include the introduction of a highly skilled team of seven staff at the Hamilton-based group emergency management office. This has seen the appointment of a full-time group controller, a group recovery manager, a group welfare manager and various specialist staff.
Numerous regional and strategic plans covering public education, public information during disasters, evacuations, community response, and recovery from disaster have been developed. There has also been strong co-operation with other agencies on issues such as volcanic threats, public information and hazard management in general. There has been widespread training of council staff to support emergency responses.
The Waikato strengths and improvements highlighted in the ministry’s latest report include:
- A strong team of controllers overseeing civil defence responses
- Enhanced facilities and technology to support greater response co-ordination, and a back-up response facility at Mystery Creek
- A very high score (87.3) for political and executive governance of civil defence.
Areas where improvements are still required include:
- Boosting the ability of local communities to respond to emergencies
- Better arrangements for the use of volunteers
- Further reducing hazard risks to a level acceptable to local communities.
The full ministry report is available online
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Stephen Ward, public information manager
07 859 0782 (office hours)