RMIT researchers have helped assess the risks of natural disasters – bushfire, floods and severe storms – in Tasmania.
Professor Darryn McEvoy and Alexei Trundle from the School of Engineering are contributing authors of the 2016 Tasmanian State Natural Disaster Risk Assessment.
This comprehensive risk assessment was launched recently by Rene Hidding, the Tasmanian Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management.
The assessment is the first at state level in Australia that meets the recently updated National Emergency Risk Assessment Guidelines. All States and Territories are required to produce their own risk assessments by June 2017.
McEvoy said: “This initiative can be considered unique as it involved a collaboration of multi-disciplinary researchers from RMIT University, the University of Tasmania and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre.
“This combined academic team worked closely with the State Emergency Services, as well as a range of key stakeholders, to assess the likelihood and consequences of a range of different natural hazards.
“The close working relationship between the research and emergency management communities not only ensured academic rigour was applied to the assessment process, but placed a deliberate emphasis on stakeholder participation, which allowed for different voices to inform the identification of priority risks for Tasmania.”
The assessment of natural disaster risk took place over 12 months from March 2015. Not surprisingly, results showed that the risks of bushfire, floods, and severe storms continue to figure prominently in Tasmania, with bushfire remaining the greatest aggregated risk.
McEvoy said three “emerging” risks were added to this 2016 assessment. These included heatwaves (now acknowledged as the most dangerous hazard in Australia in terms of deaths caused), pandemic influenza (potentially affecting a large area over a protracted period) and coastal inundation (increasingly likely due to climate change and rising sea levels).
Trundle said: “The assessment provides a valuable update of the risk register for Tasmania, recognising that the risks from natural hazards, and our understanding of them, are constantly changing due to improved knowledge, changing socio-economic and environmental conditions and the implementation of new treatments or controls by State authorities.”
While the principal audience is the State Emergency Management Committee, the findings are also relevant to a range of authorities, agencies and individuals with emergency management responsibilities.
The report received a high commendation at the 2016 Resilient Australia Awards.
Story: David Glanz