Today marks the beginning of a new era of natural hazards research in Australia.
Today, the Australian Government announced the establishment of the new natural hazards and disaster research centre, with $85 million in funding to deliver critical research into natural hazards.
That centre – Natural Hazards Research Australia – starts now, 1 July 2021.
Natural Hazards Research Australia continues the coordinated multi-disciplinary national research effort of two Cooperative Research Centres over the last 18 years – the Bushfire CRC and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC. It will focus on natural hazard resilience and disaster risk reduction and will address the major challenges arising from bushfires, storms, floods, heatwaves, earthquakes, cyclones and other hazards, including recent events such as the 2019-20 bushfire season.
Today, we officially begin the hard work of getting Natural Hazards Research Australia up and running. As part of this initial establishment phase, we are working closely with the Australian Government and our partners to develop a new strategic research agenda for Australia that supports the needs of various critical stakeholders in preventing, preparing for, responding to and recovering from natural hazards. This establishment phase will also involve an extensive series of sector-wide workshops and meetings with end-user and research partners to define and develop a long-term research program. We will be in contact very shortly on what these workshops will involve and how they will work, given the likelihood of continued COVID-19 restrictions.
Many partners and research organisations have already expressed a keenness to be involved, as have many new players from government, community, industry and the research sectors. Key partners currently include state and territory government agencies, the Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia, universities and a range of industry partners. We will also work closely with the new National Recovery and Resilience Agency and the Australian Climate Service, plus CSIRO, AFAC, the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience and many others.
Once Natural Hazards Research Australia is fully established later this year, we will formally launch the centre and we look forward to welcoming you to that launch when the time comes
What about current research?
The end of June 2021 marked eight years since the establishment of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and the formal end of the active research of the more than 50 projects in the core research program. I use the term ‘formal end’ because many of these projects are still actively producing reports and resources that are ready for partners to use.
The CRC will continue to roll out these research outputs while working on the establishment phase of Natural Hazards Research Australia. The projects that are investigating issues from the 2019-20 bushfire season, for which the CRC received $2 million from the Australian Government, will now be progressed as part of Natural Hazards Research Australia.
What this means is that Natural Hazards Research Australia has begun, and the CRC will operate within it and continue with a strong research utilisation program until all existing projects have delivered their final outputs. This is good news for our current partners, who can remain engaged with ongoing research while the structures and processes are put in place for the new long-term centre.
The critical role of multi-disciplinary science and research has never been more apparent. As we move forward to establish Natural Hazards Research Australia, these outputs of the CRC will form the basis of a discussion about new national research priorities. This is a discussion that will involve many, and your contribution will support the creation of a purposeful and relevant national research program that increases community safety for all Australians and New Zealanders.
All CRC staff can still be contacted in the usual way on matters concerning both the CRC and Natural Hazards Research Australia. Standby for more announcements about Natural Hazards Research Australia through www.naturalhazards.com.au. In the meantime, stay connected and informed through the continued outputs of the CRC. Welcome to your new national centre for natural hazards. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr Richard Thornton
Natural Hazards Research Australia