Family Assistance Code


Introduction

Recent years have seen an acknowledgment that an aircraft accident involves not only victims of the accident, but also extends to the distress and pain suffered by the families of victims.

International experience confirms the need for distinct and sensitive treatment of victims, and the families of victims, involved in an air carrier accident. This has received explicit international recognition with the publication by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) of Circular 285, Guidance on Assistance to Aircraft Accident Victims and their Families.

In the event of a civil aircraft accident in Australia, State and Territory agencies have well established and effectively maintained emergency response plans, supported, if required, by resources of the Commonwealth Government, coordinated through Emergency Management Australia (EMA). All licensed airports are required to adopt and regularly practise Airport Emergency Plans (AEPs) in conjunction with relevant emergency response authorities and airlines. The Commonwealth, through the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), Airservices Australia and Australian Search and Rescue (AusSAR), also has emergency plans to deal with, and respond to, issues associated with an aviation emergency. If there are fatalities involved, the State or Territory Coroner will have a major role. In most cases, State or Territory Police will be in initial control of the site.

However, while response agencies can provide some immediate assistance as a result of an aircraft accident, the principal responsibility for assisting victims and their families rests with the air carrier.

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