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Lifeline utilities

What are lifeline utilities?
Lifeline utilities are entities that provide essential infrastructure services to the community such as water, wastewater, transport, energy and telecommunications. These services support communities, enable business, and underpin the provision of public services.


Lifeline utility means an entity named or described in Part A, or that carries on a business described in Part B of Schedule 1 of the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002.


Duties of lifeline utilities
As well as any industry specific legislation, lifeline utilities have certain requirements listed within
Section 60 of the CDEM Act:

Every lifeline utility must—

  • ensure that it is able to function to the fullest possible extent, even though this may be at a reduced level, during and after an emergency:
  • make available to the Director in writing, on request, its plan for functioning during and after an emergency:
  • participate in the development of the national civil defence emergency management strategy and civil defence emergency management plans:
  • provide, free of charge, any technical advice to any Civil Defence Emergency Management Group or the Director that may be reasonably required by that Group or the Director:
  • ensure that any information that is disclosed to the lifeline utility is used by the lifeline utility, or disclosed to another person, only for the purposes of this Act.
The CDEM Act Section 59 requires that every lifeline utility must take all necessary steps to undertake civil defence emergency management and to perform functions and duties required
  • by the CDEM Act, or
  • by any regulations made under the CDEM Act, or
  • within any civil defence emergency management plan.

In addition to the duties listed with the CDEM Act, the National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan state several requirements for agencies (including lifeline utilities). These can generally be categorised as either readiness or response requirements as follows:

Readiness activities:
  • Develop, review, and improve their emergency plans [Section 18(3)];
  • Maintain arrangements to respond to warnings [Section 60(5)];
  • Incorporate risk management principles to form part of normal business operations [Section 51];
  • Incorporate emergency response and recovery planning into their business continuity arrangements [Section 51]; and
  • Plan, train, exercise, and equip themselves in coordination with interdependent agencies [Section 52].

Response activities:
  • Remain responsible for the management of their own response [Section 14];
  • Respond to an emergency by activating their own plans and co-ordinating with the lead agency [Section 59] & [Section 64(2)];
  • Assess the impact of an event on their own staff, assets, and services [Section 59];
  • Maintain or restore the services they provides [Section 59];
  • Communicate with lead agencies, other responders, and the public [Section 59];
  • Align response activities with other agencies to avoid gaps and duplications [Section 59];
  • Coordinate with MCDEM or through established clusters to provide integrated and coordinated inter-agency responses [Section 14].