Understanding Disaster Risk forums pave way for the future

A new agenda for disaster risk reduction was the focus for a series of national forums that took place in October.

Over 700 people from a broad range of sectors gained an insight into disaster risk reduction, vulnerability and decision making guidance at a series of national forums run by AIDR in partnership with the Department of Home Affairs.

The Understanding Disaster Risk national forums took place in every Australian state and territory from 15–29 October. The forums shared contemporary thinking on climate and disaster risk, the result of extensive research and stakeholder engagement, that underpins the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework.

Attendees represented a broad range of sectors including banking and superannuation, insurance, community services, not-for-profit, consulting, health care, state and local governments, critical infrastructure providers, research and emergency management.

Delegates provided positive feedback to the event series, with many looking forward to applying the new knowledge and guidance to implement disaster risk reduction initiatives in their sphere.

Federal Minister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management The Hon. David Littleproud MP encouraged attendees to work together to implement the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework.

'Be bold, be brave and bring forward any idea that will help this nation prepare for the future risk that we will face with a changing climate,' he said.

The interactive forums allowed attendees to share their thoughts on the current disaster risk landscape and hear from a panel of representatives about climate and disaster risk initiatives in their state.

Video case studies were also shown to provoke conversations about planning, insurance, research, infrastructure, climate adaptation, resilience and economics.

Mary and Paul Clark shared their story about the 2015 South Australian bushfires, which destroyed their vineyard business.

'The property was just a big tower of black, it was enormous, you couldn’t see anything,' Paul said.

The couple were left with no other option but to start again from scratch.

'We have been faced with a disaster on a personal level, and on a business level. Every time when you think you cannot continue you have a choice; you can keep going or not,' Mary said.

Director General of Emergency Management Australia Robert Cameron OAM also weighed in about collective responsibility towards disaster risk reduction.

'Changing how we think about disasters opens new perspectives, new insights and new ways of thinking to come up with real solutions that make a real difference to people’s lives.' he said. 'Reducing disaster risk is everyone’s business,'

The forums were shaped around sharing information from guidance materials and reports, which are an Australian Government initiative in response to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction through the former National Resilience Taskforce. These include:

  • National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework
  • Profiling Australia’s Vulnerability: The interconnected causes and cascading effects of systemic disaster risk
  • Guidance for Strategic Decisions on Climate and Disaster Risk:
    • Introduction
    • Guidance on Governance
    • Guidance on Vulnerability
    • Guidance on Scenarios
    • Guidance on Prioritisation
    • Terms and Concepts

These resources provide a platform for decision makers from across sectors to take informed action to reduce climate and disaster risk.

Forum proceedings, including PowerPoint presentations and videos, will soon be available on the Knowledge Hub.