26 September 2023

Natural disasters to be nationally reviewed

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An Independent Review of Australia’s arrangements for dealing with natural disasters has been commissioned by the nation’s emergency management Ministers so the country’s Governments will be better prepared as natural disasters become more common.

The new Review is to examine how the nation’s arrangements could be more effective when serving national natural disaster preparedness, response, recovery, resilience and long-term policy requirements.

Due for completion by 30 November, the Review has been commissioned to complement the Independent Review into Commonwealth Disaster Funding, which is being led by former Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Andrew Colvin.

The Governance Review is being led by climate change and disaster management expert Robert Glasser from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

As part of the Review, Dr Glasser is to consider establishing a disaster advisory body and expanding the remit of the National Emergency Management Ministers’ Meeting (NEMMM), the Ministerial Council that reports to the National Cabinet.

Minister for Emergency Management, Senator Murray Watt, who chairs the NEMMM, said that ensuring the disaster response was fit for purpose across jurisdictions would deliver the best results for disaster-prone communities.

“All Ministers responsible for disaster response understand that we do better through strong cooperation and by planning ahead, not waiting for disasters to strike,” Senator Watt said.

“If we are as prepared as possible at a government level, we can ensure communities get help fast,” he said.

“Dr Glasser has the right skills and experience to lead the Review, and will ensure the views of all State and Territory Governments and key stakeholders are taken into account.”

Acting Victorian Minister for Emergency Services, Anthony Carbines said the Review highlighted the importance of strengthening national coordination and cooperation for disaster management, by ensuring all States and Territories had a say on the effectiveness of governance processes.

“We’ve said all along that locals know best when it comes to what they need to recover – as communities experience more frequent and severe emergencies governments must work together to support those on the front line,” Mr Carbines said.

“Councils have told us that the less red tape, the better when it comes to disaster response – it’s our hope that this Review helps cut some of that down and ensures decisions are made quickly, clearly and informed by local knowledge,” he said.

A Working Group consisting of representatives from the Australian, State and Territory governments and the Australian Local Government Association is being set up to support Dr Glasser.

The Review is being conducted in response to recommendations from the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.

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