New laws to deliver Queensland’s largest disaster, emergency  and fire services reforms

Published Thursday, 02 May, 2024 at 04:05 PM

Minister for Police and Community Safety
The Honourable Mark Ryan

  • Landmark legislation passed in Parliament today will improve Queensland’s response to fire, disaster and emergencies and boost the state’s resilience capability
  • The legislation changes are part of the Miles Government’s significant reform program, which includes $578 million investment over five years and an increase of almost 500 additional full time emergency services staff
  • The changes align services under three dedicated government agencies and include:
    • the Queensland Police Service (QPS) takes primary responsibility for the state’s expanded disaster and emergency coordination functions;
    • a new fire department, called the Queensland Fire Department (QFD) is established;
    • the Queensland Reconstruction Authority’s role increases to further help communities recover from, and improve resilience to, disasters.
  • The State Emergency Service (SES) and Marine Rescue Queensland (MRQ) will operate as individual entities hosted by the QPS
  • Marine Rescue Queensland (MRQ) will be established as the state’s first single, integrated marine rescue service
  • Rural Fire Service Queensland (RFSQ) and Queensland Fire and Rescue (QFR) have also been established as dedicated fire services under the new Queensland Fire Department (QFD)
  • These reforms stem from a series of independent fire and emergency services reviews.


The largest and most significant changes to Queensland’s disaster and emergency management framework passed through Queensland Parliament today, building on the state’s world-class services and helping create a stronger, more resilient Queensland.

The sweeping changes will strengthen the state’s response to fire, disaster management and emergency services, while providing greater reassurance for Queenslanders when natural disasters and other emergencies impact the state.

The Miles Government has committed funding of $578 million over five years for more resources, more personnel, more equipment and better frontline services to keep Queenslanders safe in the face of disaster. This includes an uplift of almost 500 additional emergency services staff.

Legislation changes, which include amendments to existing disaster management legislation and a raft of new laws, will set the direction for a new era of disaster management and emergency services in Queensland and enhance the state’s capacity to get ready for, respond to and recover from natural disasters and emergencies.

These important community safety changes include increasing the state’s disaster coordination effort, improving services and support for frontline staff and volunteers and consolidating and aligning services focused on disaster resilience and coordination, as well as ensuring a dedicated service for fire prevention, response and control.

Legislation introduced for the first time today provides record support for the state’s local community disaster and emergency response volunteers, offering more resources, vehicles, critical safety equipment and protections for SES, marine rescue and rural fire service volunteers.

The legislation changes are proposed to take effect from mid-2024 with the SES expected to transition to QPS in June 2024. The expected establishment date for the new QFD is 1 July 2024. The new Fire Services Act 1990 is also intended to commence on that date.

MRQ will commence the transition of marine volunteer units across the state from July 2024, with the transition expected to be completed in 2025.

Queensland's emergency services and disaster management reforms stem from a series of independent reviews including the Independent review of Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and the Review of Queensland’s Disaster Management Arrangements (QDMA).

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Police and Community Safety Mark Ryan:

“Today is a landmark day for Queenslanders. We have delivered some of the most significant legislative changes to our disaster and emergency services that our state has ever seen.

“At the centre of these reforms is the Miles Government’s unwavering commitment to ensure the safety of Queenslanders.

“Through these changes we are building on our world-class capabilities and strengthening our protection and support for Queenslanders in the face of diversity and natural disasters.

“The new laws and changes will help create a stronger, safer, more resilient Queensland through better aligned and dedicated services to build our state’s resilience, prevention and response.

“The changes also recognise the important work and contributions of our emergency service volunteers. We celebrate the milestone achievement to establish SES and Marine Rescue Queensland as dedicated entities with their own operating budgets.

“This unprecedented change will ensure our volunteers are supported with more resources and more equipment to continue their valuable lifesaving work.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Fire and Disaster Recovery and Minister for Corrective Services Nikki Boyd:

“We are committed to ensuring the safety of our communities and this legislation is about providing Queenslanders with the best possible frontline support through more resources, more personnel, and a better alignment of emergency services.

“The establishment of the new QFD will better position our fire services to respond to the increasing impacts of emergencies and natural disasters.

“The legislation passed today will not only set up the structures for RFSQ and QFR, but also provide more protection for our volunteers.

“We are also investing in our state’s resilience with an increased capability for the QRA including new responsibilities to coordinate and implement policies related to potential disaster risk assessments across Queensland.

“Today is a great day for Queensland emergency management reform and for the thousands of volunteers who help protect our communities each and every day.”

Quotes attributable to Queensland Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski:

“Community safety is at the forefront of our disaster and emergency services response and our SES and marine rescue volunteers deliver important local community safety services.

“The QPS is excited to welcome the dedicated SES and marine rescue volunteers into our organisation and continue to support their outstanding contributions to protecting Queenslanders in times of local natural disaster and to provide valuable rescue services on land and across our oceans and waterways.’

Quotes attributable to Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Acting Commissioner Steve Smith:

“It’s a new era for fire services in Queensland and the passing of this legislation marks a critical milestone as we transition from QFES to the QFD.

“A dedicated fire department means a clearer focused, more engaged, and better-connected response.”

“It will also mean committed budgets for RFSQ and QFR, and dedicated leadership with experience for each service in the urban and rural environments.

“A new Rural Fire Service Advisory Committee will also be established with strong volunteer representation, enabling a voice for volunteers to raise matters important to them.”


Reforms to Queensland’s emergency services and disaster management include:

  • establishing Marine Rescue Queensland (MRQ) as a state-wide marine rescue service through the Marine Rescue Queensland Bill 2023;
  • establishing the SES as its own entity through the State Emergency Service Bill 2023;
  • MRQ and SES hosted by the QPS through the Emergency Services Reform Amendment Bill 2023 and make the necessary administrative amendments for this to occur; and
  • formally establishing the State Disaster Management Group (SDM group) within the DM Act through the Emergency Services Reform Amendment Bill 2023.

The Disaster Management and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2024 includes amendments to:

  • the Disaster Management Act 2003,
  • the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990, and
  • the Queensland Reconstruction Authority Act 2011,

The Bill establishes the Queensland Fire Department, consisting of Queensland Fire and Rescue and Rural Fire Service Queensland as separate entities within the Department. It also makes amendments to the Queensland Reconstruction Authority Act 2011 to expand the Queensland Reconstruction Authority’s functions.

Reform Facts

Once the reforms are fully implemented, the Queensland Government will deliver:

  • $60 million for the SES annual baseline budget for more staff and more resources, including crucial safety equipment, vehicles and vessels
  • $27 million annual budget for MRQ dedicated to frontline support, resources, vessels and equipment
  • An extra 114 FTE positions and additional funding for new appliances, facilities and equipment for RFSQ
  • An additional 143 firefighter positions for the QFR and an additional funding and 30 extra FTE positions for QRA to support further disaster preparedness programs and initiatives
  • Dedicated annual funding of approximately $20 million for disaster management functions.