The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements was established on the 20th February 2020 in response to the horrific 2019/20 fire season. The final report was delivered to the Governor-General on the 28th October 2020, and tabled in Parliament on 30th October 2020.
The Federal Government released its response to the Royal Commission on Friday the 13th November 2020, and on Tuesday 2 February 2021 released a document tracking its progress. We are currently seeking further clarification from the Federal Government on which of the recommendations have been formally accepted.
The Federal Government needs to clearly accept all of the findings of the Bushfire Royal Commission. The Government has not clearly outlined which recommendations they have accepted, with many recommendations just “noted” or “supported in principle” which is unclear, even for critical Federal responsibilities like sovereign aerial firefighting. This tracker reflects which recommendations have clearly been supported by the Government.
It has been
Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA) contributed to the Royal Commission through submissions, witness testimony and an open letter signed by over 9000 community members. The final report acknowledges what the ELCA and numerous other bushfire inquiry reports this year have already stated: climate change fuelled the severity of the 2019/20 bushfire season and will continue to drive worsening bushfire seasons in years to come.
The Royal Commission’s recommendations are sensible and align with ELCA’s Australian Bushfire and Climate Plan’s 165 recommendations. Now it is the job of the Government to urgently implement these recommendations to help protect Australian communities from worsening bushfires.
To help hold the Government to account on implementing the Royal Commission, we are highlighting 10 recommendations of the 80 and tracking their progress live. We are also advocating for the Australian Government to achieve net zero emissions as soon as possible, including ending the burning of coal, oil and gas – the driving force behind the climate crisis and worsening bushfires.
Understanding the climate risks
Recommendation 4.5 National climate projections
Australian, state and territory governments should produce downscaled climate projections:
(1) to inform the assessment of future natural disaster risk by relevant decision makers, including state and territory government agencies with planning and emergency management responsibilities
(2) underpinned by an agreed common core set of climate trajectories and timelines, and
(3) subject to regular review.
Boosting firefighting capability
Recommendation 8.1 A sovereign aerial firefighting capability
Australian, state and territory governments should develop an Australian-based and registered national aerial firefighting capability, to be tasked according to greatest national need. This capability should include:
(1) a modest, very large air tanker/large air tanker, and Type-1 helicopter capability, including supporting infrastructure, aircrew and aviation support personnel, and
(2) any other aerial firefighting capabilities (eg Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), line-scanning, transport, and logistics) that would benefit from a nationally coordinated approach.
Community education and warnings
Recommendation 10.1 Disaster education for individuals and communities
State and territory governments should continue to deliver, evaluate and improve education and engagement programs aimed at promoting disaster resilience for individuals and communities.
Recommendation 14.1 Nationally consistent air quality information, health advice and interventions
Australian, state and territory governments should:
(1) develop close to real-time, nationally consistent air quality information, including consistent categorisation and public health advice
(2) greater community education and guidance, and
(3) targeted health advice to vulnerable groups.
Recommendation 15.2 Inclusion of primary care in disaster management
Australian, state and territory governments should develop arrangements that facilitate greater inclusion of primary healthcare providers in disaster management, including: representation on relevant disaster committees and plans and providing training, education and other supports.
Recommendation 15.3 Prioritising mental health during and after natural disasters
Australian, state and territory governments should refine arrangements to support localised planning and the delivery of appropriate mental health services following a natural disaster.
Recommendation 16.1 Environmental data
Australian, state and territory governments should ensure greater consistency and collaboration in the collation, storage, access and provision of data on the distribution and conservation status of Australian flora and fauna.
Leadership of First Nations
Recommendation 18.1 Indigenous land and fire management and natural disaster resilience
Australian, state, territory and local governments should engage further with Traditional Owners to explore the relationship between Indigenous land and fire management and natural disaster resilience.
Simpler access to support
Recommendation 22.8 Streamline the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements processes
Australian, state and territory governments should create simpler Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements application processes.
Recommendation 24.1 Accountability and assurance mechanisms at the Australian Government level
The Australian Government should establish accountability and assurance mechanisms to promote continuous improvement and best practice in natural disaster arrangements.