Climate change presents an increasing challenge for communities across Australia. The uncertainty surrounding the magnitude, timing, and consequence of potential disasters is amplified by climate change, introducing new and unpredictable risks.
The complexity surrounding these new risks has significant implications for how local government, agencies, and industry effectively manage emergency events. The changing climate landscape requires robust emergency management planning to address these risks comprehensively.
ResilientCo was engaged by City of Greater Dandenong to conduct a review of Victoria’s Community Emergency Risk Assessment (CERA) to assess the process’s suitability in identifying, analysing and evaluating climate-related risk.
The CERA is a framework designed by the State Emergency Service in Victoria for the Municipal Emergency Management Planning Committees (MEMPCs) to enhance community safety and resilience against hazards and emergencies.
It assists in identifying significant risks, evaluating community assets’ vulnerability and exposure, and understanding the consequences and likelihood of each risk. The process aims to inform emergency planning, aid in introducing risk action plans, and improve community awareness regarding potential incidents.
The review detailed the following key findings:
The current CERA process is not effective in analysing or evaluating complex risks, particularly as the uncertainty and ambiguity of climate change makes it difficult to fully understand the impacts and consequences.
Prioritising risk based on likelihood and consequence is subjective and vague and does not account for systemic risk. Altering how the process analyses risk will help conceptualise and visualise how climate-related hazards, vulnerabilities, and exposures interact and influence each other.
Enhancing how risk is assessed and managed requires collective action. By using systems thinking to integrate climate change into emergency risk assessment, Victoria can foster a more robust foundation for effective risk management in a changing world.
Emergency risk assessment should provide a lens to build resilience to multiple risks linked to climate-related and non climate-related hazards, and their interactions with other socioeconomic factors.
The report identifies gaps within the current process and provides an evidence-based foundation that highlights potential pathways for bolstering the effectiveness of the community emergency risk assessment process within the context of climate change.
Embedding climate change considerations into community emergency risk assessments presents an opportunity to enhance resilience and preparedness for the challenges of a rapidly changing world. By integrating climate-related factors into these assessments, communities can regain a comprehensive understanding of the multi-faceted risks they face.