The federal budget 2022-23 has missed a vital opportunity to invest in long-term disaster resilience to ensure that fires and floods never become disasters in the first instance, as funding primarily targets relief and recovery in affected communities.
While Minderoo Foundation welcomes the relief and recovery measures delivered in the 2022-23 federal budget, each year natural disasters cost the Australian economy $38 billion with devastating mental health and environmental impacts. For every $1 invested in resilience, $4-11 is saved in response and recovery.
Minderoo Foundation’s Fire and Flood Resilience initiative Lead, Adrian Turner, said building back stronger in the recovery phase is crucial, however this should not be confused with proactively lifting long term resilience before extreme weather events occur.
“There is a clear need for a national plan to focus on preparedness and to lift resilience, to help reduce the economic cost and trauma so affected communities can bounce back faster and stronger from the devastating impact of natural disasters including bushfires and flood,” Mr Turner said.
The federal budget’s $6 billion+ measures funneled into the Australian Defence Force response and recovery support, infrastructure, temporary accommodation, mental health, domestic violence, earth observation, landscape measurement and the indigenous ranger programs are to be applauded.
The previously announced $600 million commitment for the Preparing Australia Program is one important step in building a more resilient Australia as is the Regional Drought Resilience Planning Program announced in budget 2022-23.
“In the last two years we have experienced two so-called one in 100-year weather events. We need to better prepare for this new normal by lifting societal, economic and environmental resilience to ensure our communities are better able to withstand these extreme weather events,” Mr Turner said.
Minderoo Foundation remains committed to realising Australia’s resilience opportunity together with partners by mobilising technology to predict and detect disasters, building resilience through community-led programs, lifting resilience in our landscapes and activating a national volunteer civilian force to build resilience in the off-season before fires and floods occur.
“Australia continues to spend 97 per cent of disaster funding on response and recovery, and 3 per cent on preparation and long-term resilience. If the Black Summer bushfires and the Queensland and New South Wales floods have shown us anything, it is that we need to drive systemic change to get off the natural disaster treadmill.
“This is fundamentally about making Australia and Australians safer. We stand ready to work with and support government to lift national resilience to disasters and build a better future for our communities and for our kids,” Mr Turner said.
Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with eight key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.