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Experts gather on disaster reduction
Emergency management practitioners and researchers gathered in Sydney on 13 October for a public forum on reducing the impacts of disasters in Australia.
The forum, held as part of the United Nations International Day for Disaster Reduction, saw nearly 50 people hear an expert panel discuss resilience and international, national, state and local perspectives on disaster reduction. Up for discussion were:
- What are the challenges we face in preparing and responding to natural disasters and how can they be addressed?
- What can we do today to ensure that the impacts are less tomorrow?
- What policies need to be created, better implemented or changed at a national, state and local level?
Speakers for the day were:
- Tony Jarrett, NSW Rural Fire Service
- Feargus O'Connor, Office of Emergency Management NSW
- Andrew Gissing, CRC and Risk Frontiers
- Jessica Raine, Emergency Management Australia
- Beck Dawson, Resilient Sydney
Taking the audience from Sendai in Japan, to St Ives North Public School in Sydney in eight minutes, Tony Jarrett from the NSW Rural Fire Service discussed how the RFS has partnered with St Ives North Public School to deliver bushfire studies with emphasis on educational values and outcomes for science, technology, engineering and maths. Watch the RFS video about their project with St Ives North Public School on YouTube.
Focusing on the bigger picture within NSW, the Office of Emergency Management's Feargus O'Connor outlined how the emergency management arrangements work at the state level, and the teamwork that takes place between many department and agencies.
From a research perspective, CRC project leader Andrew Gissing from Risk Frontiers ran through an extreme flooding scenario in Sydney, similar to recent flooding in Houston, US, during Hurricane Harvey. An event like this would have many challenges, said Gissing, but the community can play a large role with rescue and recovery efforts during majour disaster when emergency services are often overwhelmed. Future planning should also focus on heatwaves and sea level rise, Gissing noted, with infrastructure failure a key focus point.
Emergency Management Australia's Jessica Raine ran through the federal government's focus on implementing the Sendai Framework, and the importance of measuring the impact of the work that is underway at national, state and local levels.
Before an interactive panel session with the audience, Beck Dawson from Resilient Sydney set up the discussion with a focus on resilience being all about people. Dawson discussed urbanisation and globalisation, and the risk cocktail that comes together in major cities. Dawson said that as a city, Sydney is focused on implementing global priorites at a local level.
A video of the event will be available soon at www.bnhcrc.com.au
This year’s Australian forum for International Day for Disaster Reduction was held in conjunction with the Attorney-General's Department and the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience, with the support of our partner Risk Frontiers.
To learn more about the International Day for Disaster Reduction visit the UNISDR site.