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The 2015 Productivity Commission’s report on natural disaster funding arrangements in Australia found that governments overinvest in post-disaster reconstruction and underinvest in mitigation activities that would limit the impact of natural disasters. Given the multitude of natural hazards that require mitigation and response from government agencies and the tighter budgets at both state and national levels, natural hazards managers are increasingly under pressure to justify the use and allocation of resources for mitigation efforts.
The economic impacts resulting from natural disasters are often overlooked in the economic planning process. This is because the immediate focus in the wake of natural hazards is typically placed on the emergency response, and it takes time to realise the economic effects of the disasters. In Australia, the disaster management arrangements across all stages (mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery) have proven to be very successful at saving lives, however, less attention and resources have been devoted to the economic impacts of natural disasters. One of the problems identified in this setting is the lack of estimates of the full economic impact of natural hazards covering all the affected sectors of the economy. An ideal estimation should reflect both the primary and secondary effects of the natural disasters so that persistent losses throughout the economy originating from various sectors are taken into account.

How can incident management teams function to the best of their ability in challenging and high stakes environments? This research has developed practical techniques and strategies to help emergency managers to function in complex situations – situations which can exert extreme pressures on response and management teams, sometimes causing breakdowns in teamwork that can lead to impaired operational response.

Two tools have been developed, the Emergency Management Breakdown Aide Memoire and the Team Process Checklist. The tools’ flexibility and ease of use helps emergency managers to strengthen teamwork before, during and after emergencies. The tools can be used during training, during emergencies, and in after-action reviews. Agencies that are already trialling these techniques include the South Australian Country Fire Service, Tasmania Fire Service and NSW State Emergency Service.

All the resources from our 2016 conference

Research program in detail

Where, why and how are Australians dying in floods?

2015-2016 year in review

Bushfire planning with kids ebook