New world-class disaster research centre announced

The Australian Government has today announced it is providing $88.1 million to extend and scale up funding for critical research into bushfires and natural hazards.

Written on 29 July, 2020
Allyssa Hextell

The Australian Government has today announced it is providing $88.1 million to extend and scale up funding for critical research into bushfires and natural hazards.

The funding will support the transition of the current Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (BNHCRC) to a new, world-class research centre for natural hazard resilience and disaster risk reduction.

National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA), CEO Dallas Booth welcomed the announcement and said, “Mitigation is the corner stone of efficient disaster management. With the cost of extreme weather events getting higher and higher, the cost of insurance is also increasing, and as we have seen, becoming unaffordable for many people in high risk areas.”

“The industry has argued in many submissions to government that insurance is only one part of the response to a natural disaster.”

Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) Head of Risk & Operations Karl Sullivan also welcomed the announcement and said, “Australians realise the importance of natural disaster research, as it is the research findings that arm our emergency services, planners, builders, developers and communities with the information they need to continue to improve resilience, response and recovery to future natural disasters.”

Minister for Emergency Management David Littleproud said the funding would build on the work of the BNHCRC, while strengthening ties with Australia’s emergency management sector.

“The scale of the disaster season Australia experienced last summer was unprecedented, and the horrific Black Summer bushfire lingers in the national psyche,” Littleproud said.

“The new centre will deliver world-leading, evidence-based research to support the needs of our emergency services and communities across Australia to reduce climate and disaster risks, and prepare for, respond to and recover from future natural disasters.

“Although floods, cyclones and bushfires are a natural part of the Australian landscape, we must continue to improve our resilience and response efforts to ensure their impact on lives, communities and the environment is minimised.

“This is where sustained, long-term funding for natural hazards research plays a pivotal role and why the Australian Government is committed to a new 10-year national research centre.”

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the new centre would take advantage of the strong research foundation already established in Australia around bushfires and natural hazards.

“Over the past 18 years the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and its predecessor, the Bushfire CRC, have built a global reputation for delivering research outcomes that have helped better predict bushfire events, which in turn help protect frontline responders and save lives,” Andrews said.

The Department of Home Affairs, through Emergency Management Australia, and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources will work closely with key stakeholders, including CSIRO, the current BNHCRC and the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council, to help establish the new centre over the coming 12 months.

The centre will be co-funded by partners from across Australia, including state and territory governments and emergency service agencies, universities and industry partners, and represent a true collaborative effort on a national scale.