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Actions and Solutions
Steps towards building more resilient communities have been initiated, although our national investment remains well short of what’s required to seriously tackle the issue. Some of those steps are outlined below.
National Strategy for Disaster Resilience
In February 2011, COAG adopted the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience (NSDR). The NSDR includes steps to improve understanding of the risks of natural disasters, educating people of these risks and improving the methods of communicating urgent messages to communities so they can make informed decisions about their options when faced with natural disasters. For further detail visit our Government Resources section.
Funding for future bushfire and hazard research
On 13 February 2013, the Federal Government announced a plan to establish a new Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre from 1 July 2013. The Government will contribute up to $47 million over eight years to continue bushfire research while developing a complementary natural hazards research program into flood, earthquake, cyclone and tsunami events. Read more
National Insurance Affordability Initiative
On 28 February 2013, the Federal Government announced it will invest $100 million over two years to reduce flood risk and bring about reductions in insurance premiums. The National Insurance Affordability Initiative will invest $50 million a year in targeted flood and other natural disaster mitigation measures, as well as establish a National Insurance Affordability Council. Read more
$40 million Betterment Fund
On 28 February 2013, the Federal Government announced a package which included $40 million toward the establishment of a Betterment Fund to rebuild council-owned roads and assets in Queensland, making them more flood proof. Read more.
New National Construction Code provisions
In January 2013, the Australian Building Codes Board announced the introduction of new National Construction Code provisions designed to ensure the structural integrity of, and survival of utilities in new residential buildings in designated flood hazard areas. This option was found to increase construction costs by $216 million (present value over 10 years), although the benefits would be $352 million. A Regulation Impact Statement Proposal to address the risk of flooding to new residential buildings (November 2012) was prepared by the Australian Building Codes Board.
More action is required
While these, and other, actions are steps in the right direction, the Australian Business Roundtable on Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities believes additional investment is needed to fund mitigation inititaives such as:
- Improved land-use planning: Commitment by Government to develop national land-use planning criteria that prohibits inappropriate land-use in Australia.
- Improved building standards: Commitment by Government to improve the community's disaster resilience by modernising the Building Code of Australia to include minimum standards for the durability of property to natural hazards.
- Improved community infrastructure: Recovery funds dedicated to preventative infrastructure projects including barrages for unusual tides, levee banks, sea walls, properly maintained fire breaks and access trails, improved drainage and dams.
Most bushfire property losses occur in NSW, VIC, WA, SA and the ACT between September and March. With increasing urban development and a climate that is both getting drier and warmer, bushfires are an increasing risk for property owners.
Image source: Department of Environment and Conservation
Inland flood is a significant issue in Australia, historically accounting for nearly one third of insured losses. From a property damage perspective the worst affected states are NSW and VIC, followed by QLD, SA and WA. The majority of flooding typically occurs from April to October.
Red Cross volunteers provided personal support to Wagga Wagga residents who were evacuated during the floods in November 2012.
Image source: Australian Red Cross/Rick Carter