‘Step-change needed to improve infrastructure resilience’

Infrastructure resilience can be enhanced by looking not just at assets themselves but how they contribute to societal resilience overall.

In two new advisory papers published this week, Infrastructure Australia (IA) recommends a whole-of-system, all-hazards approach to resilience planning focused on strengthening an infrastructure asset as well as the place, precinct, city, and region that the asset operates within.

“This is a step-change from traditional approaches of attempting to prevent or mitigate the loss of individual assets due to specific events,” IA says in an executive summary to the papers.

“These traditional risk management approaches fail to consider systemic risks that emerge from compounding shocks or stresses and apply to the entire system of physical assets, organisations, and communities.

“Therefore, to achieve infrastructure for resilience, asset, and network owners and operators need to act collectively as well as independently, and to collaborate with the community, emergency responders, local, state and territory governments, and the federal government around places and communities.”

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) took part in resilience workshops in 2020 that helped inform the development of the advisory papers.

Guidance is sorted into three categories of resilience:

  • Infrastructure resilience – the resilience planned for, designed, and built into assets, networks and systems;
  • Organisational resilience – the resilience of the organisations, personnel and processes supporting infrastructure to supply a service; and
  • Community resilience – the role the community plays in building and maintaining its own resilience while contributing to infrastructure resilience.

One of ALGA’s policy priorities is for improvements to existing disaster funding programs to allow for betterment of community infrastructure.

ALGA and its member associations also work closely with the Institution of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) on best-practice asset management and guidance for project managers on renewing or building infrastructure that will be more durable to the impacts of climate change.

Click here to learn more about IA’s pathway to infrastructure resilience.