September 11, 2013

Emergency Services in Queensland face a major shake-up under reforms recommended by former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty.

The State Government commissioned Mr Keelty last year to undertake a comprehensive review into the Police and Community Safety portfolio.

Key recommendations include:

  • Transferring the Queensland Ambulance Service to Queensland Health; this is expected to occur on October 1
  • Transferring Queensland Corrective Services to the Department of Justice and Attorney-General – to occur later this year
  • Revamping the Department of Community Safety and renaming it the Department of Fire and Emergency Services
  • Creating a new position of Inspector-General Emergency Management to ensure emergency and disaster responses are better co-ordinated
  • Merging the agencies’ business support functions such as Finance, Human Resources, Information Management, Procurement and Legal Services and repositioning remaining QAS and QCS administration streams with their new departments
  • No longer using frontline police to operate mobile speed camera vans and undertake wide load escorts to ensure better focus on core law enforcement duties
  • Prisoners in police watch-houses to be managed by Corrections staff where appropriate to ensure a seamless transition from prisons to watch-houses and back again. This will also enable police to return to on-road operational duties.
  • A major overhaul of how the Queensland Police Service uses and adopts new technology.

Premier Campbell Newman said Mr Keelty had conducted a once-in-a-generation review into all aspects of emergency services.

The major revamp of the Department of Community Safety has already begun.

The positions of Director General DCS, Deputy Director General DCS and Assistant Director General DCS are being restructured and a large part of Emergency Management Queensland (EMQ) will be integrated with the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) to form a new department, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES).

Agencies under EMQ such as the State Emergency Service (SES) will retain their branding and majority of rank structures.

The new department will be headed by current Fire Commissioner Lee Johnson and will include a dedicated Deputy Commissioner Rural Fire and State Emergency Service to manage volunteers and Deputy Commissioner Operations to manage the urban fire stream and emergency management.

As the operational structure of the QPS has recently undergone a significant restructure, the operational side of policing in Queensland will remain relatively unchanged.

However, Mr Keelty has identified many other aspects of the business side of policing that require overhauling to bring them in line with other jurisdictions, especially in terms of mobile data systems and accessing police computer systems remotely.

To ensure Queensland remains prepared for future disasters and emergencies, the review has also recommended the position of Inspector General, Emergency Management be created.

This position will be responsible for setting standards, auditing and monitoring of performance regarding the preparedness and management of disasters and emergencies.

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