SES and RFS back-office merger: That, to help protect life and property across NSW in storm and flood events, and to improve resourcing and NSW State Emergency Service (SES) frontline capability, Government implement, before the next storm season, a merger of the SES and NSW Rural Fire Services (RFS) back-office and corporate service functions, while maintaining their separate legislative identity, brand, uniform and volunteer membership. This ‘joined-up’ RFS/SES corporate support structure would be under the command of the RFS given its corporate and operational maturity and would be responsible for:
• placing risk at the centre of all decision making and planning for catastrophic disasters
• establishing a dedicated intelligence unit that synthesises the wealth of intelligence available to inform critical decision making, particularly for flash flooding
• establishing a planning unit to help better prepare communities, NSW combat and other agencies, and local governments about upcoming flood and storm seasons
• establishing a fulltime SES position for each high-risk catchment to ensure flood identification, response assets and supporting infrastructure is serviced, operational and ready to deploy
• designing and implementing a workforce plan to identify any capacity and capability gaps in frontline emergency staff, now and into the future
• improving the hiring standards of frontline full-time staff in operational decision-making positions
• improving the support, training and retention of both frontline staff and volunteers
• improving media protocols and identifying a designated media spokesperson during a disaster.
The newly merged model should be reviewed in 12 months’ time by the SEMC.

Recommendation 12