A triggering event changes the dial on disaster resilience action

Australia has experienced a natural disaster “trigger event” that is transforming the approach to disaster resilience and recovery, the new head of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has said.

National change began with the Black Summer bushfires in 2019, followed by subsequent disasters and was reinforced by record flooding in Queensland and NSW this year, NEMA General Coordinator Brendan Moon said.

“This is our trigger event,” he told the Insurance Council of Australia’s annual conference. “You are short changing your community if you don’t make a serious attempt to reduce risk in the future.”

Mr Moon said the federal government had decided “enough is enough” by taking a “system-wide approach” with the creation of NEMA, which brings together two agencies and will work across governments and with insurance and health insurance. other sectors on resilience. and attenuation.

Cyclone Yasi in 2011 was the triggering event in Queensland, Mr Moon said, leading to the creation of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA), which he headed before his appointment to NEMA in September.

QRA saw cities and regions in recent years that had been repeatedly hit by disasters even before this year’s disaster happened, he told the conference.

“We found our communities in a permanent state of recovery, rebuilding and declining ability to cope with these climatic events, and then the floods hit,” he said.

Lismore Mayor Steve Krieg told the conference his aim was for the NSW regional town to become a model for others in how it recovers from this year’s disaster, but the lack of availability of insurance is a problem, including for the local mall and cinema.

The Northern Rivers region has received $800 million in federal and state funding for home renovations and buyouts.

“We want to build back better in a way that the rest of the country can follow,” Krieg said.

Federal Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt also told the conference that the government was emphasizing resilience and had taken action in the budget.

“As a country, we need to be better prepared for the next disaster and then better prepared for the disaster after that – the human toll is too heavy and the impact on communities is too great for us to fail,” said Mr. .watt. .

“I really think we can create a more resilient country, not only through mitigation, but also through insurance coverage protection.”