The federal government will grant the Bushfire Building Council of Australia $3 million to develop a national self-assessment app intended to assist Australians with protecting their homes from bushfires.
The initiative is one of five national natural disaster projects receiving more than $4.2 million in funding announced by the government on Wednesday.
The app, dubbed the Bushfire Resilience Star Rating system, will provide site-specific mitigation guidelines that will help people identify and address bushfire vulnerabilities in their homes through retrofitting and improvements.
Meanwhile, the CSIRO will receive more than $1 million to support three separate projects. Around half of that funding will be used to speed up development of an online evacuation modelling tool for emergency sector stakeholders.
The tool will look at factors like population demographics and human behaviour models to inform strategic and risk mitigation planning, regional planning for evacuations, and community engagement and education programs.
With $326,000 in funding, the CSIRO will support outreach and engagement efforts to maximise the uptake and benefits of a national prototype smoke forecasting capability, which is currently in development.
The national science agency will also develop and deliver a post-bushfire survey app and training, backed by $271,000 in funding. The projects will assist professionals in assessing loss context, cause and vulnerability, and will complement two other bushfire damage and vulnerability assessment apps being developed as part of the Bushfire Surveyor Application Suite.
Finally, the New South Wales Department of Planning, Industry and Environment will receive $170,000 for a framework to assess the vulnerability of Aboriginal cultural heritage to fire. The framework will also determine how fire management actions such as prescribed burning and fire suppression can mitigate risk to cultural heritage.
The government said the project would improve representation of cultural heritage in fire management planning and evaluation and improve resilience of cultural heritage to fire risk.
The five projects have been jointly evaluated by the commonwealth, state and territory governments. They support the goals of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework and the recommendations of the bushfires royal commission. The funding forms part of a five-year, cross-jurisdictional disaster risk reduction package.
National Recovery and Resilience Agency coordinator-general Shane Stone said strengthening Australia’s disaster preparedness was a shared responsibility.
“These projects will improve community understanding of disaster risks and increase awareness of the proactive steps we can all take to reduce our vulnerability to more frequent and intense natural hazards,” he said.
“It is no longer good enough to just clean up after a disaster, we are actively working with all levels of government to increase the focus on mitigation, preparation and resilience, reducing the social, economic and environmental impacts of large-scale disasters.”
The National Recovery and Resilience Agency will soon commence consultations with commonwealth agencies and states and territories on national risk reduction initiatives that will receive funding over the following year.