A review of the emergency services sector was initiated in 2002 by the then Minister for Emergency Services, the Hon Patrick Conlon MP to review the governance arrangements of the emergency services. The review sought to determine the best way to support the operational focus of the emergency services to ensure that the Government's priority of providing the highest possible level of resources in supporting the efforts of volunteers and staff attending fire and emergency incidents could be achieved. At that time the emergency services sector comprised of the Country Fire Service, Metropolitan Fire Service and the Emergency Service Administration Unit (ESAU).
The Emergency Services Review Report (known as the 'Dawkins report')was tabled in May 2003 and recommended the creation of a South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Commission (SAFECOM).
The Fire and Emergency Services Act 2005 was proclaimed on 1 October 2005 establishing SAFECOM. This Act incorporated the Country Fires Act 1989 and State Emergency Services Act 1987.
The principles behind the establishment of SAFECOM included:
- Ensuring governance and accountability of the sector;
- The provision of a properly integrated network of emergency services based on equitable assessment of community risk;
- The consolidation of support services within a unified emergency services sector;
- The strategic alignment of the emergency services with the common goal of enhanced community safety;
- Enhancing community safety by providing balanced focus on prevention, preparedness, response and recovery services by the emergency service organisations, i.e. CFS, MFS and SES;
- Pursuing opportunities for efficiencies and reforms and reinvesting savings within the sector; and
- To enhance participation and support of volunteers from within local communities.
Since 2005, SAFECOM has been working with the emergency services agencies to undertake these roles and provide effective support.
SAFECOM operates under the Fire and Emergency Services Act 2005 and as such is subject to the control and direction of the Minister for Emergency Services.
The Commission has the following functions under the Act:
- To develop and maintain a strategic and policy framework across the emergency services sector
- To develop and implement a framework of sound corporate governance across the emergency services sector
- To ensure that appropriate strategic, administrative and other support services are provided to the emergency services organisations
- To ensure that appropriate strategic and business plans are developed, maintained and implemented across the emergency services sector
- To provide for the effective allocation of resources within the emergency services sector
- To ensure that the emergency services organisations have appropriate systems and practices in place-
- To provide for effective management and planning
- To monitor management performance against plans and targets, and to take corrective action as necessary
- To ensure that the emergency services organisations maintain appropriate risk-management systems and practices
- To ensure that the emergency services organisations regularly review, and revise as necessary, their plans, structures, systems, targets and practices to address changing circumstances and to improve the provision of emergency services and business practices
- To ensure that the emergency services organisations meet their statutory responsibilities and comply with the provisions of the Act or any other relevant Act
- To ensure the observance of high ethical standards within the emergency services sector
- To foster and support career development opportunities for officers and staff within the emergency services sector
- To support and encourage voluntary participation in SACFS and SASES, and to foster and support personal development opportunities for members of the emergency services organisations
- To recognise outstanding achievements of persons who are involved in the provision of fire and emergency services, or who take action or assist at the scene of any fire or emergency or who otherwise support the objectives or activities of the emergency services sector (or any part of that sector), within any part of the State
- To disseminate knowledge in the field of fire and emergency services in order to advance community safety
- To maintain an appropriate level of strategic liaison with the peak body responsible for the management of emergencies in the State
- To provide regular reports to the Minister on the activities and performance of the emergency services sector
- To provide to the Minister reports or advice in relation to the operation of the Act or the provision of emergency services under the Act
- To perform any other function assigned to the Commission by or under the Act.
The Commission is managed and administered by the SAFECOM Board of which the presiding member is the Chief Executive SAFECOM and, like the CFS, MFS and SES, is funded by the Emergency Services Levy.