Disaster Resilience and Mitigation

This page is a summary of the report

Disaster Resilience and Mitigation: A short report on current and future capacity to deliver on risk assessment and mitigation needs

Authors Deborah O’Connell, Brenda Lin, Tim Capon, Mark Stafford Smith
Date August 2015

The short version of the report can be found here.


It is increasingly recognised that Australia needs systemic change in the way it deals with the inevitable natural disasters. It has been proposed by many that a shift in emphasis is required – moving from disaster response and recovery, to an approach that reduces exposure to the risks, and mitigates the impacts on people and property, the economy, and the environment. This imperative is clear in many recent policy directions such as the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience, and reports such as the Productivity Commission Inquiry Report on Natural Disaster Funding Arrangements (Productivity Commission, 2015).

Australia is exposed to natural disasters on a regular basis, and the cost to society and governments is substantial. In the time since 2009, a series of bushfires, floods and cyclones have occurred. The costs have been estimated at $6.3 billion per year (Deloitte Access Economics, 2013), with the cost of response and recovery of around $8 billion (PC, 2015). This is likely to be an under-estimate of the true costs – the indirect costs (e.g. business and network disruption) and the non-market costs (e.g. death, environmental, animal welfare, psychosocial, culture and heritage, dislocation) are hard to measure (PC, 2015).

The Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) commissioned CSIRO to identify capability gaps in meeting the broad aims of risk assessment and mitigation for natural disasters, for the Australian and New Zealand Emergency Management Committee (ANZ EMC). We conducted workshops and detailed interviews with key stakeholders and research providers, workshops, supplemented by various policy documents and literature to produce:

  1. A partial stakeholder systems analysis, identifying key stakeholders, main roles and decisions, influence pathways, constraints and enablers, and processes/tools and data needs.
  2. A ‘map of needs’ or ‘theory of change’ with future activities, outputs and outcomes to move towards a long-term goal of disaster mitigation.
  3. Identifying gaps in tools and capability for implementing risk management processes.

Key findings