Australia’s variable climate, geography and environment frequently places communities, infrastructure, ecosystems and cultural and heritage sites in the path of natural hazard events. Natural hazards are driven primarily by weather and geology. Weather-driven natural hazards include bushfires, floods, heatwaves, cyclones, landslides and thunderstorms, while geological-driven hazards include earthquakes and tsunami. The climate change-fuelled bushfire chaos of the past year alone has shown how exposed the nation is to natural hazards, causing distressing losses of life and property, and devastating the environment. A recent royal commission has exposed gaping holes in Australia’s readiness for natural disasters.
How should we better prepare for natural hazards and mitigate their impacts from becoming disasters; and how can we cope during and after they have occurred? What could we do at a government, emergency services, community and personal level to protect ourselves, develop resilience, and recover from the next major natural disaster?