Spotlight on preparedness for the severe weather season

As we move into the severe weather season, AIDR is highlighting a range of resources to help organisations across Australia guide and support their communities to prepare.

The Bureau of Meteorology has released its long-range forecast to help Australian communities prepare for the peak time for severe weather, including heatwaves, bushfires, tropical cyclones, severe thunderstorms and floods. 

The Bureau advised that current climate drivers, long-range forecast and recent conditions indicate an increased risk of heatwaves and bushfires this year. For the 2023–24 season, the Bureau is expecting the following conditions: 
  • Heatwave – the forecast shows a high chance of unusually warm temperatures for most of Australia until at least February 2024. 
  • Bushfire – there's an increased risk for much of eastern and southern Australia due to reduced rainfall, high fuel loads and above average temperatures. 
  • Tropical cyclones – while overall likely to be below average, at least one tropical cyclone crosses our coast each season. 
  • Severe thunderstorms – a normal risk of severe thunderstorms with dry conditions forecast for late spring and early summer. 
  • Flooding – normal risk for localised flooding when storms bring heavy rain and during the northern wet season. 

All sectors have a responsibility to reduce disaster risk and be prepared for the upcoming high risk weather season. Find out more across key themes of preparedness

Be prepared this severe weather season 

Evacuation planning 

Evacuation is a risk management strategy that may be used to mitigate the effects of an emergency on a community. The Evacuation Planning Handbook incorporates guidelines and considerations for developing community evacuation plans underpinned by an all-hazards approach. It should be used to guide pre-event community evacuation planning, which will in turn maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of any evacuation that may be required. The 2023 edition incorporates and reflections recommendations, observations and learnings from inquiries following the 2019-20 bushfires, and recent catastrophic flooding.

Also see the Quick Guide to Evacuation Planning

Community engagement 

The Practitioner’s Guide: How to choose between community engagement approaches (PDF 236KB) provides checklists to assist practitioners when choosing between approaches to community engagement. Each checklist highlights circumstances that might apply and that make each option more likely to support the desired outcomes and to build community resilience. 

The Practitioner’s Guide: Understanding and addressing challenges in community engagement (PDF 214KB) provides practical advice to identify and address potential challenges in the process of community engagement. Some challenges can be anticipated while others may emerge unexpectedly. Challenges may arise due to a specific set of circumstances or may apply more broadly to a range of common engagement processes.

The Community Engagement for Disaster Resilience: Program logic template (PDF 67KB) guides project planning, implementation and evaluation by identifying agreed outcomes and outputs, specific engagement activities and presenting benefits in the short, medium and long term for the community and partners. When engaging communities consider the needs and aspirations of groups including but not limited to the following:  

  • Indigenous Australians (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples)  
  • culturally and linguistically diverse groups (CALD)  
  • people who are living with disability, chronic illness or mental health issues  
  • people of diverse genders and sexual orientations  
  • those living in socially or physically isolated, or high-risk circumstances or locations  
  • those experiencing homelessness, unemployment or poverty  
  • the elderly (whether living in their own homes or in formalised care arrangements)  
  • children and young people  
  • those with limited access to information or resources. 

Disability inclusive disaster risk reduction 

The Leave Nobody Behind webinar series showcases action-oriented good practice in Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DIDRR). 

Preparing children and young people

Disaster resilient young people: 

  • recognise natural hazards in their local environment 
  • understand the harmful impacts that natural hazards have on people and places 
  • demonstrate strategies for staying safe, seeking help and helping others in an emergency 
  • design solutions to local challenges related to hazards and emergencies 
  • share their learning, opinions and ideas with local decision-makers 
  • participate in actions for recovery following a disaster or other traumatic event. 

Find resources, case studies networks through the Education for Young People website.

Planning for spontaneous volunteers 

Spontaneous volunteers are individuals or groups of people who seek or are invited to contribute their assistance during and/or after a disaster or emergency. Browse the Quick Guides that quickly illustrate key concepts from the Planning for Spontaneous Volunteers Handbook.

Incident management

The Incident Management Case Studies companion document showcases 8 examples of incident management from a range of public and private organisations. These case studies show the different ways that the principles and practices described in the Incident Management Handbook can be applied in practice.


Listen to Lisa Harrison from SunCorp to hear about their role as one of Australia’s leading insurers, helping communities be more prepared to withstand the impacts when natural hazards strike.

Leadership and local council 

Mayor Christensen of Scenic Rim Council explains how his background and leadership roles across many decades has prepared him to lead the Scenic Rim Council and its communities to prepare for and recover from disasters and meet the challenges ahead.

Fighting inequality for a resilient future 

Inequality underpins conditions that can leave people more exposed and vulnerable to disasters, such as having less access to financial resources, services, insurance, safe and secure housing, and representation in decision making arenas. When disasters do occur, they can disproportionately impact the most at risk people and exacerbate inequalities. 
It is clear that addressing inequality is a key part of reducing disaster risk and building a resilient future. This 60-minute International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction webinar invites leaders to discuss this topic:
  • Bhiamie Williamson Research Fellow, Fire to Flourish, Monash University 
  • Joanna Quilty CEO, NSW Council of Social Services 
  • Loriana Bethune Research and Innovation Manager, Gender and Disaster Australia