Rethinking disaster risk management and climate change adaptation

Authors: Michael Howes, Deanna Grant-Smith, Kim Reis, Karyn Bosomworth, Peter Tangney, Michael Heazle, Darryn McEvoy and Paul Burton
Year: 2013

A more iterative approach to policymaking and planning and reconceptualizing terms such as community and resilience may be necessary to allow for more tailored responses to varying circumstances and to deal with the high level of uncertainty inherent in disaster risk management and climate change adaptation. This project undertook a three-way comparative case study of the 2009 Victorian bushfires, the 2011 Perth Hills bushfires, and the 2011 Brisbane floods. Data was collected from the official inquiry reports, additional interviews and workshops with key stakeholders. A literature review provided an overview of current disaster risk management arrangements and climate change adaptation policies in Australia. Four common themes emerged from this combined research: i) Improve interagency communication and collaboration; ii) Develop institutional arrangements that support continual improvement and policy learning; iii) Improve community engagement and communication; and, iv) Refocus attention on building resilience. Specific institutional reforms proposed in the report include: 1) a new funding mechanism that would encourage collaboration between and across different levels of government, as well as promoting partnerships with business and the community; 2) improving community engagement through new resilience grants run by local councils; 3) embedding climate change researchers within disaster risk management agencies to promote institutional learning; and, 4) creating an inter-agency network that encourages collaboration between organisations.

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