The government will establish a National Recovery and Resilience Agency and an Australian Climate Service to help Australia better prepare for natural disasters and adapt to the changing climate.
Former Northern Territory chief minister Shane Stone has been appointed as coordinator-general of the agency, which will combine the former National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency and the National Bushfire Recovery Agency.
The creation of the agency was recommended by the bushfire royal commission.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday announced that $600 million would be invested in a new disaster preparation and mitigation program that will be managed by the entity.
“Immediate funding will support resilience projects across the community and for individuals’ homes, such as bushfire and cyclone proofing houses, building levees and improving the resilience of telecommunications and essential supplies,” he said in a statement.
The agency will be responsible for supporting communities following major natural disasters, and advising the government on policies and programs to mitigate the impact of future major disaster events.
One of the agency’s first jobs is to support the long-term recovery of communities impacted by the recent storms and floods in New South Wales and Queensland, and cyclones in West Australia.
The government has also announced that Emergency Management Australia will receive support to upgrade its National Situation Room to include a real-time ‘common operating picture’, for all natural disasters.
“We will also provide $4.5 million to support disaster recovery scenario training to help regional communities prepare for high-risk hazards,” emergency management minister David Littleproud said.
“This funding will provide accredited training for people working in disaster recovery and two pilot Resilience Hubs to coordinate regional training and capability development across all levels of government when responding to a natural disaster.”
An Australian Climate Service will also be established. It will offer detailed climate and disaster information to inform the work of the National Recovery and Resilience Agency and Emergency Management Australia.
Environment minister Sussan Ley said the service would bring together critical data from the key climate research institutions to help Australia adapt to the impacts of the changing climate, and to inform long-term planning for infrastructure, housing and basic services like power, telecommunications, and water.
“It will help shape the way we build communities and underpin Australia’s future adaptation strategies, including the new National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy announced in January,” she said.
“The collaboration between the Bureau of Meteorology, the CSIRO, ABS and Geoscience Australia is critical to delivering rich insights drawn from an expanded range of data sources.”
The service will be complemented by investments in initiatives such as the National Environmental Science Program and Great Barrier Reef Restoration and Adaptation programs, Ley said.