By releasing your staff to undertake disaster response activities with the Reserve, you can challenge them, and support them to grow professionally and grasp new opportunities.

What happens during a disaster activation

In the lead up to, or at the time of a disaster, Ready Reserve members will be asked to confirm if they are available for possible deployment, and how much lead time they need to get organised. It is important that they discuss this with you as a priority so that the number of available Ready Reserves across the state can be determined. If Ready Reserves are not available for deployment, they are asked to give a reason.

If your staff member confirms their availability, it does not mean they will automatically be deployed. Deployment decisions are based on:

  • the need for specific skills or experience
  • local knowledge of the impacted communities
  • the lead-time a staff member requires
  • the cost and time to move Ready Reserve members into the disaster area.

Fatigue management is also an important consideration, particularly if Ready Reserve members have already been deployed multiple times for the disaster.

If a Ready Reserve member is required for deployment, they will receive instructions by phone and email. Ready Reserves are asked to forward the deployment email to their line manager so that all parties are aware of deployment arrangements.

Ready Reserve members are deployed for 1 week at a time. If staff need to travel into a disaster area, a normal deployment period can be up to 9 days. This allows for their travel into the disaster area, 5 days continuous work in community recovery, their travel home, and 2 fatigue days to recuperate.

Depending on the scale and severity of the disaster, it is not unusual for Ready Reserve staff members to nominate for multiple deployments. The Critical Incident Entitlements and Conditions Directive 06/16 applies as long as it is necessary, but for no longer than 60 days. In a significant statewide disaster it would not be unusual for a Ready Reserve member to nominate to be deployed 3 to 4 times.

You will need to:

  • familiarise yourself with the Ready Reserve deployment guide (PDF, 643.7 KB)
  • know the entitlements and conditions that apply to your staff member, e.g. fatigue management
  • take reasonable steps to arrange a mutually convenient time for your staff member to take TOIL accrued during deployment
  • keep a record of any sick leave taken by your staff member while on deployment. Managers are required to approve any sick leave applications and your staff member's normal departmental timesheets when they return.

If you are unsure about your staff member’s entitlements speak to your human resources (HR) team. For further advice, ask your HR officer to contact the PSC Advisory Services on 1300 038 472, or email

Supporting Ready Reserve staff in your team

As a line manager, you have a shared responsibility—with recovery team leaders and deployed employees—to care for the psychological and physical wellbeing of Ready Reserve staff.

You can support your staff member by:

  • supporting their emotional self-care, particularly when they travel as part of their deployment
  • regularly calling your staff member or sending a text message to check-in
  • ensuring they have contact details of the department’s Employee Assistance Service (EAS)
  • encouraging them to speak with their Community Recovery team manager/leader and counsellors available at recovery locations.

Fatigue management

You should support your staff member to self-manage psychological and physical fatigue.

  • Know your department’s fatigue leave arrangements, which may include paid discretionary leave under the Special Leave Directive 05/17.
  • Support your staff member in taking the allotted fatigue leave and in attending their exit psychological debriefing.
    • All deployed staff must have at least 10 consecutive hours of break between finishing work on one day and starting work on the next day.
    • Staff need to take 2 Critical Incident Leave days after 5 days of Community Recovery deployment.
  • Ensure fatigue leave is taken immediately following the end of the period of deployment.
    • Critical Incident Leave must be taken immediately on return to normal duties and before being deployed again.
  • Check in with your staff member when they return to a normal routine. You may wish to encourage them to contact the department’s EAS or consider additional leave to support their rest and recuperation.

Read more in the Critical Incident Entitlements and Conditions Directive 06/16.

Workforce Support for Community Recovery workers

Workforce support and assistance is available for all Community Recovery workers, including Managers, Team Leaders, Ready Reserves, and temporary staff.

Managing your team when staff are deployed

Managing the temporary change in your team can be challenging during a Ready Reserve deployment.

When you endorse your staff member’s nomination you should consider how you will manage business continuity if there is a disaster. This may include:

  • extending project timeframes
  • pooling resources within broader workgroups
  • backfilling the position.

Business continuity and backfilling

When a staff member is deployed and there is a vacancy in your team, you may wish to consider backfilling the position.

If you choose to backfill a position when an employee in your team is deployed, you may be able to recoup the cost under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements. This includes hiring a temporary employee new to government and the higher duties amount of a Queensland Government officer who is acting in the role.

For more details contact your department’s agency key contact.

More information