In 2009, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) endorsed the National Partnership Agreement on Natural Disaster Resilience. This agreement provided Co mmonwealth funding to local regions to increase the resilience of their communities to natural disasters. As a condition of this initial funding, each State and Territory was required to undertake risk assessments to inform and address priorities for risk mitigation.
In 2013, the State Emergency Management Committee (SEMC) initiated the State Risk Project, whi ch was designed to gain a comprehensive and consistent understanding of the risks faced at state, district and local levels. Consequently, a series of state-level risk assessment workshops were held to assess the risks posed by seven sudden-onset natural hazards. The initial hazards assessed were heatwave, flood, bushfire, cyclone, tsunami, earthquake and storm. The results were reported to the Commonwealth in 2013 and an update of the state's risk profile will be delivered in 2017.
Western Australia currently has 27 hazards prescribed within emergency management (EM) legislation. These hazards stem from natural and man-made origins or a combination of both. The State Risk Project has id entified a range of potential vulnerabilities that may be affected by any of these hazards. These vulnerabilities, grouped under six key themes, are considered of critical importance to the wellbeing of the State (the state core objectives). The six themes are people, economy, infrastructure, social setting, government and environ ment. The State Risk Project seeks to gain a robust understanding of risks genuinely faced. From there, the state can use the information to formulate appropriate and cost-effective mit igation strategies that lower risk and contribute to building a more resilient state.
The State Risk Project uses both the methodology and criteria outlined in the National Emergency Risk Assessment Guidelines (NERAG) and internationally recognised standards for the risk assessment process (AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009). Assessments, base d on a worst-case scenario event (and a near worst-case scenario event for State-level), are conducted in workshop settings. The scenarios are scalable for state, district and local levels and are tailored accordingly. This methodology ensures all data is consistent and can be compared.
The state level phase of the project, encompassing risk assessment workshops held in Perth during 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017, is scheduled for completion in 2017.
The district level risk assessment workshop program (for priority hazards) across all of the State's EM districts took place during 2015 and 2016. Our understanding of risks has grown significantly, largely as a result of the risk data collected in the project's district phase. This risk data is currently being used to compile comprehensive risk reports and risk profiles for each EM district in WA (these reports will be available soon on the OEM website).
The local level phase of the project commenced in 2017, with local government take-up, participation and support of the project being very strong. The aim of the local level component is to provide training, support and tools to local governments to assist them in undertaking the emergency risk management process (as required by existing policy).