Volume 22 Issue 4, 2007

Evacuation powers of emergency workers and emergency-service organisations in Australia

Elsie Loh

Peer-reviewed Article

Archived Article


Every Australian State and Territory has adopted the Australasian Fire Authorities Council’s ‘Prepare, Stay and Defend or Leave Early’ policy (the Policy) which outlines how emergency service organisations (ESOs) and their members should respond to fire emergencies. As emergency response in Australia falls within State/Territory jurisdiction, the powers given to ESOs and their members differ in each jurisdiction which means the implementation of this nationally recognised Policy will also be different in each State and Territory. How it will be implemented will depend in part on the common law and in part on what powers (in particular evacuation powers) are provided to them by their respective State/Territory legislation. This paper summarises the powers of ESOs and their members to forcibly remove people from their homes for each State and Territory in Australia. Victoria is generally described as having a pecuniary interest evacuation model and the other States and Territories as having the mandatory evacuation model. As described in the paper, such a dichotomy is simplistic.