Holly Foster

Holly Foster

Holly Foster

Lead end user

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.
Research team:

What if an earthquake hit central Adelaide? A major flood on the Yarra River through Melbourne? A bushfire on the slopes of Mount Wellington over Hobart?

‘What if?’ scenario modelling through this project is helping government, planning authorities and emergency service agencies think through the costs and consequences of various options on preparing for major disasters on their infrastructure and natural environments and how these might change into the future.

The research is based on the premise that to reduce both the risk and cost of natural disasters, an integrated approach is needed to consider multiple hazards and a range of mitigation options.

Understanding the economic resilience of disaster-hit communities can help build more sustainable natural disaster recovery models that direct funding towards the most vulnerable individuals and groups. This is important 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. This research project combines real life case studies, confidential ABS Longitudinal Census data, advanced disaster mapping, and empirical economic modelling to illustrate how recent natural disasters have impacted and rippled through communities and the broader economy over time. By exploring both sector-disaggregated and demographic-specific impacts, it helps policymakers better understand the socioeconomics of natural disasters and formulate public policies in a way that better distributes scarce budgets and resources towards vulnerable socio-economic groups and sectors of employment. This will help overcome the lack of estimates of the full economic impact of natural hazards covering all the affected sectors of the economy.
Research team:

Current government spending on natural disaster response is more than 20 times the spending on preparedness. Many climate-related natural hazards are increasing, along with the number of people living in hazard-prone areas. Large natural disasters also cross domains, moving from the private to the public realm, and shifting from a local, to a state or national concern. This raises the potential of future, unmanaged risks.

This project, now in its utilisation phase, mapped a broad range of economic, social and environmental values and related them to natural hazards across several case studies. It explored who owns these values and what happens when they cross domains, as well as how a range of alternative strategies may contribute to improved resilience by sustaining economic, social and environmental values in a changing environment.

Research team:

This project is developing an index of the current state of disaster resilience in Australian communities – the Australian Natural Disaster Resilience Index. The Index is a tool for assessing the resilience of communities to natural hazards at a large scale and is designed to provide input into macro-level policy, strategic planning and community engagement activities at national, state and local government levels.

Deliverables will include development of disaster resilience indicators, maps of disaster resilience at multiples scales, a State of Disaster Resilience Report, and examples that use the Index in a natural hazard resilience planning context.

This new project commenced in July 2017, and aims to produce new and innovative ways of integrating urban planning and natural hazard risk management. It will increase the understanding of what planning and emergency management can and cannot do, separately and in synergy, and develop new approaches to applying tools and methods available to planning systems to the design and management of communities as they change.

This project, which began in July 2017, will address two complementary areas of research relating to the long term recovery of communities after a disaster.

Firstly, the project will investigate how a person’s history of moving house or town influences the likelihood of their willingness to dissolve social ties.

The second area will be an examination of the enablers and barriers to successful recovery using a framework of community capital and the tracking of capital flows. This will look at natural, cultural, human, social, political, built and financial capital resources, their interconnectedness and interactions in disaster recovery. Examination of these assets through case studies and working with end-users will identify both potential areas for improvements, as well as recognise what has worked well in recovering communities. This process will provide feedback and a guide for the planning of recovery activities in a range of communities.

Research team:

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