About the Ministry

The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management provides leadership in reducing risk, being ready for, responding to and recovering from emergencies. It manages central government’s response and recovery functions for national emergencies, and supports the management of local and regional emergencies.

The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management is a business unit of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

About the Ministry

The primary function of MCDEM is to support and enable communities to manage emergencies. MCDEM works with the diverse range of agencies that comprise the civil defence emergency management sector, each with different responsibilities and focus, and varying levels of resources and capability. Organisations involved include communities and their local authorities, central government departments and agencies, emergency services, welfare agencies, lifeline utilities and education providers, researchers, international agencies, and non-government organisations.

The overarching strategy is to build resilience through a risk management approach and the four "Rs" of:

  • Risk Reduction
  • Readiness
  • Response
  • Recovery

This approach starts with recognising the range of hazards we face and the vulnerability of our communities, buildings, and infrastructure to those hazards. By understanding the impacts we could face from hazards, the focus can move to measures for reducing the risks and for managing impacts when they occur.

The Ministry aims to put the right tools, knowledge and skills in the hands of those who will be responsible for designing and implementing solutions at the local level. We do this by working closely with local government, lifeline utilities, the emergency services, and a range of other organisations involved in civil defence emergency management.

What the Ministry does in an emergency

The Ministry:

  • leads the response and recovery of national emergencies;
  • supports CDEM Groups as they lead emergency responses and recovery at the local level; and
  • supports other agencies when they have the lead, such as Police (e.g. terrorism events), Ministry for Primary Industries (e.g. drought, animal diseases and food safety) and Ministry of Health (human pandemics).

Roles & Responsibilities

The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management is responsible for administering the Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Act 2002. We provide leadership, strategic guidance, national coordination, and the facilitation and promotion of various key activities across the 4Rs of reduction, readiness, response, and recovery to achieve the purpose of the CDEM Act 2002.

What we do

  • Provide advice to government on civil defence emergency management matters.
  • Identify hazards and risks.
  • Develop, maintain and evaluate the effectiveness of the civil defence emergency management strategic framework.
  • Ensure coordination at local, regional, and national levels.
  • Promote civil defence emergency management and deliver public awareness about how to prepare for, and what to do in, an emergency.
  • Support civil defence emergency management sector capability development, planning and operations, including developing guidelines and standards.
  • Monitor and evaluate the performance of the 16 regional Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups (Groups).
  • Maintain and operate the National Crisis Management Centre, including the maintenance of a duty team to staff the Centre, and issue warnings and public information.
  • Manage the central government response to, and recovery from, large scale emergencies resulting from geological (earthquakes, volcanic unrest, landslides, tsunami), meteorological (coastal hazards, floods, severe winds, snow) and infrastructure failure. MCDEM is the lead agency for these emergencies.

Find more information on the roles and responsibilities of MCDEM and other agencies across the CDEM framework


Ministry organisation chart

Ministry organisation chart (.pdf 249kb)

Business units

Analysis & Planning Unit

The Analysis & Planning Unit is responsible for the research and development of Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) concepts across hazard risk management, readiness, response and recovery. Tasks include coordinating science advice and the application of research, national planning, the development of guidance and doctrine and international engagement. The Unit also has responsibility to manage relationships with partner Departments and agencies at the national level.

Development Unit

The Development Unit is responsible for engagement and liaison with CDEM Groups and local authorities on their statutory responsibility for delivering all aspects of CDEM to their communities. The unit is responsible for assisting CDEM Groups to implement national guidance and plans in the region, monitor and report CDEM Group performance and development including implementing the evaluation process, assisting CDEM Groups to enhance capability development and managing the resilience fund process.

Capability & Operations Unit

The Capability & Operations Unit has two principal functions: CDEM capability development and National CDEM operational readiness and systems. CDEM Capability responsibilities include the analysis, development and implementation of measures to support the availability of the requisite range of high quality educational opportunities for CDEM stakeholders. National CDEM operational readiness responsibilities include the management of the National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC) and its systems, processes and staffing, hosting of the CDEM Emergency Management Information System (EMIS), management of the National Warning System and the National Exercise Programme. The Unit also has responsibility to manage relationships with partner Departments and agencies at the national level.

Strategic Business Plan

The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management's strategic business plan outlines the strategic directions. Within the plan are the goals and objectives the Ministry has identified as necessary to achieve the plan.

View the current and previous strategic business plans.

Briefing to the Incoming Minister of Civil Defence

The Briefing to the Incoming Minister of Civil Defence gives an overview of the Civil Defence portfolio and identifies some of the more significant issues and opportunities.

Briefing to the Incoming MInister of Civil Defence June 2019 (1.6mb)

Briefing to the Incoming Minister of Civil Defence October 2017

Briefing to the Incoming Minister of Civil Defence April 2017 (.pdf 1.6mb)

Briefing to the Incoming Minister of Civil Defence December 2016 (.pdf 954kb)

Briefing to the Incoming Minister of Civil Defence October 2014 (.pdf 832kb)