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The CDEM Act 2002: What it means for government departments
To help make our society resilient to disasters, the Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Act stipulates the responsibilities and roles of key agencies. If you work in a government department this Act affects the way you carry out your continuity planning and how you relate to other departments, emergency services, local government and New Zealand’s communities.

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What the Act says

Your department must:

  • be able to function to the fullest possible extent during and after an
  • have plans for being able to function that can be made available to the Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management.
Your department may be requested to:
  • help define the Crown’s CDEM goals and objectives in a National CDEM Strategy
  • participate in development of a National CDEM Plan and/or regional
    CDEM Group plans
  • undertake any CDEM functions specified in a CDEM plan
  • provide technical advice to government or CDEM Groups (consortia of regional authorities and emergency services).

What this means …

Your department is expected to:

  • plan for, and be able to ensure, continuity of service, particularly in support of critical CDEM activities
  • be capable of managing its own response to emergencies
  • develop plans cooperatively to coordinate across its sector and with other sectors
  • establish relationships with CDEM Groups, consistent across regions.

Will your department meet the CDEM Act’s expectations?
Test your organisation with the following checklist. List the services or advice your department provides to central Government and New Zealand communities during a major emergency. For example – “My department can provide victims with emergency benefits following a disaster”.

Answer the following questions. Scores: Yes = 2, Partially = 1, No = 0

Has your department…
  1. Developed procedures to ensure continuity of business?
  2. Considered external risks (eg dependence upon other departments, utilities or contractors)?
  3. Assessed risk in consultation with similar departments, not in isolation?
  4. Considered critical CDEM customer activity when establishing priorities for service restoration? (how you support rescue and triage, law and order, medical and welfare, fire-fighting)
  5. Established emergency planning and operational relationships with other departments?
  6. Planned in a cross-sector manner to optimise service during emergencies?
  7. Determined how the department’s units communicate within and across sectors during an emergency?
  8. Validated planning by exercising, individually and collectively?
  9. Developed an ability to reconfigure services – contingency planning such as alternate provision of policy advice to Government during an emergency?
  10. Established mechanisms to source people and resources unavailable during an emergency?
  11. Shared and applied examples of best practice risk management across your sector?
0-9: Risk management too internally focused. Vulnerable to external risks. Weak relationships with CDEM agencies.

10-17: External risk considered. Continue to improve business resilience by strengthening external relationships and cooperative planning.

18-22: Sound risk, asset and emergency management. Cooperative planning. Continue to protect ability and reputation by improving relationships and testing and reiterating plans. Publicise and capitalise on success.

Note: The above checklist and ratings are subjective examples only