Disaster Management

My heart goes out to all those affected by the recent floods, and previous floods, fires, storms and drought.

SO, what role or actions can the federal government take in response to these events?

Under the Australian constitution the federal government is constrained in it’s response to those areas specified in the constitution. This leaves a lot it can achieve, particularly if it can successfully work with the states.
Unfortunately, much of this has been started late, is still very disorganised and can lack cohesion between relevant organisations, as well as between the state and federal governments.
There is certainly a lot more that needs to be done.

A quick background: A Natural disaster is an event where the impact of a natural hazard that overwhelms a communities capacity to cope.
Disaster management involves a cycle of action:

Without access to sufficient resources to engage in effective recovery and mitigation; or with the inefficient use of the resources available, the impact of cumulative disasters results in a significant downward spiral of quality of life as each disaster wipes out the existing resources at the individual level and at the community level.
Lee Bosher uses the disaster helix to show the different outcomes of strong mitigation versus ineffective mitigation techniques. We cannot continue to keep waiting for a disaster and then respond to it. Forethought and preparation is essential.

Outcomes from effective investment in disaster prevention. Decreasing impacts on the community, decreasing amount of funds needing to be spent.


Outcomes from insufficient / ineffective disaster prevention measures.

This is why its imperative to invest ahead of time.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the 4 billion in disaster relief funds. The people of the north coast need assistance now, after all that is what the money is supposedly for. We need to release some of these funds for that purpose.

But with more than 1 million properties at risk of flooding across Australia, and an expected $170 billion loss in property by 2050, we need to do more preparation as well. The investment of the money for the purpose of disaster response is a good one, and which has returned nearly 1 billion dollars so far for disaster management. But as was reported in March only $150 million had been set aside for disaster-mitigation projects, with much less actually spent. As we see in the above diagrams, the failure to invest in disaster mitigation actually leads to increasing costs with every disaster event.

What specifically can the Federal Government do?