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Speech to the High Level Round Table at the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

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THE HON NICOLA ROXON MP Attorney-General Minister for Emergency Management



23 October 2012


I would like to begin by thanking the Chair of the Round Table, Dr Syamsul Maarif, head of Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency for hosting this successful conference. I’d also like to thank Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for his inspiring speech at the opening of the conference.

Australia is pleased to be a part of this forum and welcomes the opportunity to exchange information and learn from our counterparts on approaches to disaster risk reduction.

There has been a growing emphasis on disaster resilience and risk reduction in Australia over the past several years. With our changing population distribution and the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters, Australia’s traditional approach to emergency management, which focused on ‘response’ and ‘recovery’, needed to change.

In February 2011, all levels of government endorsed the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience (the Strategy). The Strategy sets the long term direction for emergency management in our country, centred on a resilience-based approach.

The Strategy’s endorsement came at a time when the impact and cost of disasters to Australia was on prominent display with our communities recovering from devastating, wide-spread flooding, bushfires and cyclones across multiple states that occurred throughout the 2010-11 summer.

The National Strategy for Disaster Resilience

The Strategy emphasises the importance of a comprehensive, risk management approach to emergency management along with a focus on appropriate shared responsibility across all sectors of society. It recognises the synergies in dealing with the impacts of climate change and natural disasters, as they both involve minimising the risks from natural hazards through mitigation and adaptation.

While the Strategy is a long term commitment, implementation is well under way. Early action has concentrated on increasing our understanding, and improving the communication, of risk. Improved understanding of risk is central to building community resilience, and necessary to inform other efforts to build resilience.

Key bodies of work include:

 conducting state-wide assessments of priority hazards across all jurisdictions and agreeing to publish risk assessment information

 developing a nationally consistent risk assessment methodology for Australian governments to use for future risk assessments

 implementing a national work program for improving the quality and consistency of flood maps

 establishing a web-based portal that allows Australians to access the best available flood risk information from one central location.

These activities are now informing longer term reforms. More effective land use planning is one of the key challenges Australia is also addressing in building sustained community resilience. Australia has developed a roadmap to influence and affect land use planning and building codes so that they integrate consideration of priority hazards. It is an important body of work that, when implemented, will lead to substantial improvement in mitigating the effects of disasters. It will also contribute to more effective climate change adaptation.

Regional Engagement

Within our region, the Australian Government continues to strengthen disaster management capacities and the application of a ‘whole-of-society’ approach to disaster resilience. Disaster risk reduction in particular is an important component of the Australian aid program, which has spent over $200m on reducing risk in the last two years.

The majority of this investment is spent working with governments, particularly in the Asia Pacific region. This work integrates local level disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation into national development planning. National plans must understand disaster risk, accept responsibility for reducing that risk, and mandate authority and resourcing down all levels of government to communities most at risk.

Right here in Indonesia, in partnership with the national disaster management agency and the World Bank, we have developed software that brings detailed hazard mapping together with community mapping to provide simple risk modelling capabilities to local government and communities. The program, InaSAFE, is being launched in a special session at this AMCDRR meeting and I would like to say that Australia was honoured that President Yudhoyono took the time to visit the InaSAFE stall at the conference to see the operation of the program.

The Australian Government is also heavily engaged in the region through the East Asia Summit and APEC Emergency Preparedness Working Group. Through the East Asia Summit we are working with ASEAN members to implement the Indonesia-Australia initiative to enhance regional cooperation on rapid disaster response.


Natural disasters are inevitable, unpredictable and will continue to remain a fact of life in Australia and across our region. The Australian Government is committed to working with all tiers of government to support Australians to prepare for, withstand and recover from such devastating events.

Australia is committed to working with partners in the region to reduce disaster risk in line with the United Nations Hyogo Framework for Action 2005 - 2015: Building the

resilience of nations and communities to disasters. Similarly, we will do all that we can to help our neighbours in times of disaster.

I appreciate the opportunity we have been given to present Australia’s perspective. We can all learn from sharing our experiences and gain much from building stronger partnerships so that we can respond to the numerous challenges and risks that we have in common and must face together.

Thank you.

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