Future disaster response ‘needs to be holistic and harmonised’

All jurisdictions should work with local government and industry to take Australia to the next level of building climate and disaster resilience, the CSIRO says.

This work needs to concentrate on harmonising data governance and the sharing of common technologies so data and information (including a national risk map) can be produced, analysed, and exchanged more readily.

The recommendation is one of 25 contained in the CSIRO’s Climate and Disaster Resilience report prepared at the Morrison Governmen’s request after the Black Summer bushfires.

An expert panel led by Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel advised and provided input to a select CSIRO team, their work being guided by:

  • Evidence-based analysis informed by literature, lived experience and expert inputs;
  • A focus on where research, science and technology can contribute to building resilience;
  • Acknowledgement of past improvements and the importance of complementarity, with a number of related reviews, reports and inquiries currently underway including the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements; and
  • CSIRO’s role in providing relevant insights to inform policy makers but not policy advice.

On the benefits of “building back better”, the report recommends governments, regulators, businesses, and communities work together to agree on methods to explicitly embed resilience.

“The community plays an essential role in all phases of resilience building and must be appropriately included and engaged,” it says.

“Investment in targeted research, science and technology remains a key enabler of many of the improvements required to build resilience … [which] needs to be embedded as an explicit consideration in all future planning, agricultural and urban land use and zoning and investment decisions.”

The overview and the technical report on climate and disaster resilience can be read or downloaded on the CSIRO webpage.

The reports follows last week’s release of the Australian Bushfire and Climate Plan which recommended, among other things, that federal, state and territory governments establish and fund permanent community resilience hubs in every vulnerable local government area.