OpinionFire & Flood Resilience18 Aug 2022

Minderoo Foundation statement in response to the NSW Independent Flood Inquiry

It is critical that we focus more funding and efforts on resilience preparedness to better protect communities against disastrous events before they happen.

Houses are surrounded by floodwater on March 31, 2022 in Lismore, Australia. It was the second major flood event for the region in a month. Photo Credit: Dan Peled / Stringer via Getty Images.

The new iteration of Resilience NSW to Recovery NSW and its focus on the first 100 days of disasters is a step backwards. Now is the time to invest in resilience, while we help communities respond to these disastrous events. We cannot just be reactive.

Disaster spending in Australia is out of balance. Ninety-seven per cent of funding goes towards response and recovery and only 3 per cent on resilience: planning and preparation. This needs to be more like one third response, recovery and resilience towards each.

The government, emergency services, NGOs and impacted communities are in a constant cycle of responding to events. This is becoming economically unsustainable and leaving people’s lives and properties at risk in the future. The sector is calling for a focus on preparedness and resilience.

To put this into perspective, in Australia, the average annual cost of natural disasters is currently estimated at $38 billion. This is expected to double to $73 billion by 2060.

We know that every dollar invested in resilience saves between $1-4 in response and recovery costs.

Minderoo Foundation applauds the NSW government for taking the initiative to support community first responder volunteerism through grants, but volunteers focused on first response during an event are only part of the solution. That’s why we established the Australian Resilience Corps — a new volunteer network focused on connecting help with where it is needed most before events occur — along with founding partner NRMA Insurance and others.

It starts with providing online training on the basics of resilience, from protecting your property to managing your mental health and what needs to go into a resilience plan. By working with existing organisations doing fantastic work in communities, The Corps can then amplify the impact of the good things already being done in the resilience space. We call on government at all levels to fund resilience-based volunteer efforts to put communities at the heart of planning in advance and tap in to underutilised corporate volunteering hours.

Minderoo Foundation’s Fire and Flood Resilience initiative is working on a number of initiatives aimed at lifting resilience and helping communities to prepare long before these events happen. We also call on the government to distribute funding and focus more equitably across the response, recovery and resilience phases to better protect Australia against a challenging climate future.

Adrian Turner
by Adrian Turner

Adrian leads the Minderoo Foundation Wildfire and Disaster Resilience Program. He’s a mission-driven leader with international experience building new global technology-based businesses. He was founding CEO of CSIRO’s Data61, and before that co-founder and CEO of Mocana Corporation, had P&L responsibility for Philips Electronics’ connected devices infrastructure and was Chairman of the Board for Australia’s expat network, Advance.org. Outside of work Adrian enjoys keeping fit, motorsports, art and is an avid reader.

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