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A virtual organisation: Queensland’s crisis and response management 2013-141.1

29 January 2013



The summer of 2010/11 saw some of the most extensive and costly natural disasters in Australia’s history hit the state of Queensland in quick succession. Significant flooding was followed by Cyclone Yasi, a tropical storm with a force stronger than Hurricane Katrina. By the end of the season, disasters had been declared in all 73 local government areas at least once. Even in less extreme circumstances, natural disasters are difficult – and to some extent useless – to plan for, as Queenslanders were well aware. Since “no government can afford to keep a standing army of thousands of trained rescuers on the off-chance that a disaster will strike”, disaster management systems are in many ways “virtual organisations”. In Queensland, this was the State Disaster Management Group (SDMG) made up of professionals and volunteers from all relevant government agencies and some non-government organisations. Learnings from past disasters had meant that Queensland was in a relatively sound position to take on new hazards. Yet, the massive impact of this season meant that it was stretched to capacity. The SDGM was required to adapt and expand quickly to an unprecedented series of natural disasters.

This case offers a detailed description of the response to the 2010/11 summer in Queensland. It gives the background to what has been recognised as a world-leading response to multiple disaster events, and can be used in any discussion of disaster management. Other issues, such as strategic communication, centralisation/decentralisation, and volunteerism arise, and might also be touched upon in class discussion.

Authors: Tracey Arklay
Published Date: 29 January 2013
Author Institution: ANZSOG, Griffith University
Featured Content Length: 4
Content Length: 9
Product Type: Case with teaching note, One-part case, Primary resources