Chapter 1 - Interim Report

Chapter 1Interim Report


1.1The Senate Select Committee on Australia’s Disaster Resilience was appointed by resolution of the Senate on 30November2022 to inquire into Australia’s preparedness, response and recovery workforce models, as well as alternative models to disaster recovery. The committee will consider the role of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), volunteer groups, not-for-profit organisations and state-based services, and the support required to improve Australia’s resilience and response to natural disasters.

1.2Further detail about the scope of the inquiry is available in the committee’s terms of reference which are listed separately at the start of this report.

1.3The committee was originally to present a final report by the last sitting day in September 2023 (14September2023). However, on 9August2023 the Senate agreed to extend the committee's reporting date to 24April2024.

1.4In lieu of that final report, the committee is presenting this interim report.


1.5The committee initially resolved to accept submissions until 20February2023, but given the nature of the inquiry and the level of community interest, the committee resolved to accept submissions on an ongoing basis.

1.6As of Tuesday, 12September2023, the committee has received a total of 138submissions. These submissions reflect a broad segment of Australian society and come from right across the country; from each state and territory.

Public hearings

1.7So far, the committee has conducted thirteen public hearings around the country. They are listed below:

14 March 2023Canberra, ACT

12 April 2023Brisbane, QLD

13 April 2023Sydney, NSW

19 April 2023Melbourne, VIC

20 April 2023Hobart, TAS

21 April 2023Adelaide, SA

15 May 2023Kununurra, WA

16 May 2023Fitzroy Crossing, WA

17 May 2023Broome, WA

18 May 2023Perth, WA

27 June 2023Ballina, NSW

28 June 2023Goonellabah‒Lismore NSW

29 June 2023Tweed Heads, NSW

Overview and context

1.8Australia, and indeed the rest of the world, is now experiencing an increase in the number of natural hazards that become humanitarian disasters, as well as their intensity. This was an anticipated result of global warming which is now manifesting itself into reality.

1.9Natural disasters are becoming more frequent, occurring concurrently and having significant, long-term impacts on all aspects of our society. There is now expected to be longer and more intense fire seasons, more extreme heat events, less frequent but more intense cyclones, and an increased likelihood of cyclones moving further south.[1]

1.10The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) commented:

As in many parts of the world, Australia is experiencing an increase in the frequency, severity, and impact of climate change-influenced disasters. The seventh biennial State of the Climate 2022 report shows Australia is experiencing ongoing, long-term climate change, and has warmed on average by 1.47 (± 0.24) degrees since 1910.[2]

1.11Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR) in their submission noted:

Recent research and discussion papers have highlighted the challenges emergency management workforces face as a result of a changing climate. With the increased frequency and intensity of disaster events, more and more communities are affected. Half of Australia's LGAs [LocalGovernment Associations] were subject to a disaster declaration in 2022.[3]

1.12This will not come without an economic cost. The Department of Home Affairs offered this analysis of what the costs are and how they are expected to grow:

The cost of natural disasters in Australia is estimated to increase from an average of $18.2 billion in 2016 to $73 billion per annum by 2060, even under a low emissions scenario.[4]

1.13More significant, climate change and the increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters will bring a significant human cost. The Department of Health and Aged Care observed:

Findings from a recent Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements indicate that natural disasters (and extreme weather) give rise to increased rates of stress, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcohol and substance abuse, aggression and violence, suicide, and exacerbation of other underlying mental health problems. Long-term mental health impacts are also linked to the practical challenges of rebuilding after a natural disaster, including experiences relating to housing, insurance and obtaining financial assistance.[5]

1.14At the same time, the ability of Australian society to respond to these challenges is diminishing through the decreased number of volunteers available. NaturalHazards Research Australia observed:

Research shows that formal volunteering is declining and that change is required to ensure a sustainable model into the future. These changes include reducing the administration burden on volunteering and also increasing the flexibility to enable people to volunteer.[6]

Key themes

1.15Through the evidence the committee collected, a specific set of key themes have emerged in terms of disaster resilience. The following list summarises those themes.

Suitability of Defence for Disaster Response

1.16Several submissions supported the notion that the ADF should not be the main agency for natural disaster relief. While praising the efforts of the ADF and noting tremendous logistical and ancillary capacity that the ADF has, ADF personnel are not trained fire-fighters nor responders, and these tasks are best done by those agencies with specific skills and experience.

1.17The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) argued that ADF deployment should complement existing local capabilities.

1.18The United Professional Firefighters Union of WA stated:

…it is not the role of the Australian Defence Force to respond to domestic natural disasters, but that of the lead agency in this area, DFES. This view is supported by the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) who state the primary role of the ADF is defending and protecting Australia.

Although, the ADF does not have the capability or resources to fight bushfires and does not train to do so, it can provide ancillary support through its capabilities and resources during and after natural disasters.[7]

1.19Defence itself has stated that while it will, of course, respond to government direction, deployment to natural disasters will undermine its capacity to fulfill its primary mission of defending Australia and its interests:

…the increased scope, scale and duration of Australian Defence Force (ADF) commitment to domestic disaster relief has resulted in workforce pressure on both permanent and reserve ADF capacity, which may incur reduced capability within some areas.Increased utilisation of ADF resources during domestic natural disasters has required Defence to reprioritise its workforce to meet Government direction, reducing capacity and opportunity to train, maintain and sustain its workforce to meet the operational requirements of its primary mission.[8]

1.20Defence went on to state in its submission that the establishment of a force dedicated to national crisis response and recovery could be considered as an alternate to the status quo. This would have the effect of enabling defence to focus on its core role to protect Australia and its interests.

The establishment of a scalable and deployable civil contingency workforce to support national crisis response and recovery could provide an alternative option to utilising the ADF workforce by increasing the threshold for requests. This could reduce operational tempo, training disruption and relieve workforce concurrency pressure, delivering an increase in workforce availability and corresponding maintenance of ADF capability for employment in its primary role.[9]

1.21This point was reinforced by the ADF when AirVice-MarshalChappell, in addressing the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters, stated in his opening remarks:

The challenge over the last several years has been the scale and the scope, the duration, of these disaster responses. It has been of a magnitude to create pressure on the Australian Defence Force and Defence that is unsustainable if we are to ensure we are prepared for our primary role, which is to defend Australia and its interests, noting that the strategic environment continues to place pressure on the global and international rules based order upon which Australia's security and prosperity is determined and that we really see pressure on the workforce being a key part of our response to disasters.[10]

Governance arrangements

1.22A number of submissions – particularly from government agencies – outlined the legislative and bureaucratic frameworks through which they operate. Others noted the inadequacies of those arrangements, and the limited capacity of local government to respond to the increasing number and severity of natural disasters.

1.23The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services noted:

…with the increasing severity of natural disasters due to climate change, the capacity of local governments to respond is diminishing. The increase in catastrophic events that are having larger impacts on communities is likely to require an increase in intervention by the State and Commonwealth Governments. Consequently, the increasing size and frequency of these events suggest that there will be an ongoing if not increasing need for additional support and specialist assistance such as that held by the Commonwealth.[11]

1.24There was significant comment that local government needs to be better resourced and more inclusively consulted.The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) said:

…there is a mismatch between the amount of local government infrastructure exposed to climate change risks and the resources that local government have to carry out effective adaptation to manage these risks. Australia’s efforts to address and respond to climate change is not taking full advantage of the opportunity for partnership and collaboration with local government.[12]

1.25MrGraemeKelly, General Secretary of the United Services Union, provided evidence to the committee of the constant decrease of funding available to local government. MrKelly stated that there had been:

…a funding shortage by the federal government since 1975. I am happy to hand something up to the chair, which I have prepared. We've mapped out the total tax revenue funding from the federal government since 1974-75. I particularly talk about the early nineties, when it hit a high…

…the total tax revenue today is at 0.5 per cent of federal funding. In the nineties it was at 1.18 per cent. Local government are being starved of funds, and not only at a federal level. In New South Wales you have rate capping as well.[13]

1.26Local councils have little say in the equipment they are provided by state governments for their emergency services but must carry the cost burden for maintenance and depreciation.

1.27Mr Michael Lollback, the Chief Executive Officer of Barcoo Shire Council, observed:

…every year that I do a budget, I start with a massive level of depreciation on assets that council has no real use for but owns. That in itself leaves us in a really difficult position across Queensland in the depreciation of the equipment we hold here. We have very little say on what equipment arrives. There have been instances in the past where flood boats have arrived in local government areas without any consultation with the local government, only to have them put onto that local government's books to be maintained, fuelled and depreciated.[14]

1.28Councillor Linda Scott, President of the ALGA, reiterated the point:

…in New South Wales and Queensland, the rural fire service assets sit on the council books. The council has to make disclosures each year about the state of those assets and fund the depreciation, but clearly has no care or control over those assets. They don't come under the command of the council. They come under the command of the rural fire service.

We have an example here in New South Wales in Temora, where their town hall was on fire. They called the RFS to come and put out the fire, and the RFS did not attend. There is no better example of a council not having command and control over an asset that was on their books and that they were being asked to sign off on from an audit perspective. Recommending that state and territory associations stop that practice and stop councils being asked to fund the depreciation of assets that they don't control—which should rightly, under state and territory responsibilities, fall under their assets—would be a very welcome move.[15]

1.29Finally, the Northern Territory Government observed that each local jurisdiction faces its own particular challenges, and that emergency management plans must take many factors into account:

Emergency management is multi-faceted and it is widely accepted that a one-size-fits-all approach is not effective. The needs and challenges of our communities can vary significantly, therefore emergency management strategies and plans must be tailored to local contexts to be effective.

Emergency management strategies and plans must also take into account community demographics, culture, language, and infrastructure. Communities with large numbers of vulnerable or marginalised populations, such as the elderly or Indigenous communities, may require different emergency management approaches to ensure that their needs are met. Tailoring emergency management plans to local context will encourage and support a shared responsibilities approach to disaster management.[16]

Lack of coordination of services

1.30One recurring theme of particular note was the need for improved coordination of agencies and services – be they government or non-government organisations – during and after natural disasters. Deloitte in its submission noted:

There was an uncoordinated, under-resourced and extremely delayed response from federal, state and local governments during and in the immediate aftermath of the flood events;[and]

There was an overwhelming lack of coordination between government agencies, civil volunteer groups, community organisations and volunteers during and in the immediate aftermath of the disaster events.[17]

1.31The Business Council of Australia argued that the NEMA is the best placed organisation to coordinate disaster-relief charities:

This submission contends NEMA should take a greater role in the coordination of disaster-relief charities, as well as the dissemination of data to these charities during the emergency and recovery-phases of a natural disaster.[18]

1.32Mr Adrian Turner, Director, Minderoo Foundation Fire and Flood Resilience, noted that most coordination occurs after the event, and not in preparation:

Lastly, there is a lot of discussion around a national coordination mechanism, which we commend.

But that mechanism is currently focused on the relief and recovery phase and we recommend and advocate for a similar mechanism for peacetime coordination, with the same level of urgency to lift resilience to disasters.[19]

Managing volunteers

1.33The committee noted the issue of managing volunteers and, in particular, the management of Spontaneous Volunteers (SVs).

1.34Disaster Resilience Australia (DRA) is an organisation that seeks to match the skills and experience of military veterans with emergency services specialists to rapidly deploy disaster relief teams in Australia in the wake of natural disasters.[20]

1.35DRA noted that SVs are individuals or small groups who are not formally associated with any organisation but self-mobilise to assist community members impacted by disasters. This type of volunteering has gained traction in recent years with the rise of social media platforms and communications technology, which has given communities greater access to real time information. DRA believes that, if well led, SVs are a significant force multiplier but remain an underutilised resource in Australia.[21]

1.36At the public hearing of 14March2023, DRA noted:

Increasingly, we are also filling a large gap in spontaneous volunteering and in the corporate volunteering space as well. There are lots of databases out there that hold the names of people who want to do that, but there's very little in terms of being able to mobilise them, deploy them and lead them well on ground.[22]

1.37In that same hearing, DRA described how it is currently seeking to manage those SVs. In Queensland, DRA are using a database called EV CREW managed by Volunteering Queensland. DRA explained:

EV CREW is essentially a database.When an event happens, they say, 'If you want to volunteer, go to this database and sign up…’ We don't actively push for spontaneous volunteers; they're coming. If we wanted to actively push for volunteers, we could add a zero to the number of people we're mobilising. The most important thing that I could impress upon you is that, regardless of where people are going to sign up, it is the ability to put them on the ground that is the fundamental missing part of the puzzle. It's the ability to have people there to meet them at a reception centre, vet them, equip them, brief them, lead them well on the day, make sure they are safe, bring them back, decontaminate them and debrief them. That is the massive missing piece of the puzzle.[23]

1.38Finally, DRA noted that local databases of SVs, rather than a national one, was the best way to manage those volunteers:

It would probably be better to spend money on advertising in the local area and surrounds to mobilise the local population, because, if they're not close to it, if they can't get to it or if they're busy, it won't matter what the national database says. You're probably better off trying to mobilise local resources or using our model.[24]

Support for rural and remote communities and organisations

1.39Some submitters noted that many disasters are in rural and remote locations making response and recovery more difficult. Submitters stated that rural and regional communities required more support and resourcing in order to respond to emergencies. The Nimbin Neighbourhood and Information Centre Inc (NNIC) commented:

Locally based organisations in smaller rural communities need to be resourced to work in the disaster space and the significant value added to the emergency response process needs to be recognised and incorporated into the various response and recovery processes.[25]

1.40With regard to accommodation, the Caravan Industry Association of Australia observed:

Areas struck by disaster are often remote and rural by geographical location, this means the stock of crisis or acute accommodation can be very limited.[26]

1.41The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal stated:

FRRR strongly believes that grassroots community organisations play a vital and often under-appreciated and under-funded role in both preparedness for, and recovery from natural disasters.[27]


1.42Connectivity is a theme that is frequently referred to when inquiries into regional Australia are held. In terms of disaster situations, lack of communication is a significant problem.

1.43The National Farmers’ Federation commented:

Rural communities continue to face connectivity challenges that can directly impact their safety. Not only have recent natural disasters, including floods and bushfires, put peoples’ lives at risk, but they have had significant impacts on the ability of regional Australians to operate businesses and access health and education services.[28]

1.44Byron Shire Council recommended:

Strengthen strategic and operational connectivity between volunteer organisations with relevant capabilities, including RFS, SES, Marine Rescue, VRA and also including Surf Life Saving Clubs (SLSCs).[29]


1.45There was some comment that agricultural growers should be given additional support given the importance of food production. FNQ Growers noted:

One of the biggest issues experienced by our growers is recognition of natural disasters, particularly when it impacts a small numbers of growers, yet the impact is great with significant consequences to production…

FNQ Growers would like to see funding available for crop replacement as a result of damage sustained in natural disasters, be it tropical cyclones, flooding or fire.[30]


1.46As a sub-section of agricultural production, farm livestock remains an important asset in regional Australia. The role of animals in terms of disaster planning and recovery is not often considered. The RSPCA made a series of recommendations intended to support better preparation for disasters in terms of animal resources.[31]

Support for charities

1.47Submitters noted the importance of charities in responding to natural disasters – particularly at a local level. Increased and ongoing support for such charities will strengthen disaster resilience. To that end GIVIT, in their submission, advocated more support for local charities:

By building the capacity of local charities, GIVIT empowers local communities to request exactly what they need for their own recovery. This model is increasingly being recognised by State and Local Governments as the best practice model for community-led donation management during times of disasters, drought and pandemics. By supporting the immediate and long-term physical needs of affected communities, and purchasing locally wherever possible, GIVIT builds community resilience, supports the recovery of local economies and ensures donations do no harm.[32]

1.48Similarly, the Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund Inc commented:

The charity model for ongoing capacity and capability needs to adapt to the greater challenges. This requires support to charities and not for profits to nurture and develop community leadership and ensure the recent lessons of recovery and resilience are available.[33]

Lack of mitigation investment

1.49Natural disaster mitigation—or lack thereof—has consistently been an important theme in disaster inquiries and resonates through the submissions. There is a strong perception that mitigation is neglected in comparison to disaster response. Habitat for Humanity Australia observed:

It is commonly remarked that 97 percent of Australian disaster funding goes toward post-disaster recovery, while just 3 percent goes on preparation and mitigation.[34]

1.50Similar figures were provided by National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA):

A Deloitte report… published in 2014, found that for every $10 spent on post-disaster recovery, only $1 is spent on mitigation. This is despite research released by the American Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which shows that $1 spent on disaster mitigation saves society $6 in future disaster costs.[35]

1.51Submitters argued that greater attention from government needs to be put on mitigation. The NIBA commented further:

Natural disaster mitigation has been ignored by consecutive governments, despite numerous inquiries into disaster mitigation and preparedness recommending governments transition spending from post-event recovery to pre-event mitigation.[36]

1.52The Kyogle Council echoed these comments:

The state and federal governments need to adjust their thinking, and their structures, to focus on a significant investment in improved resilience and large-scale mitigation programs aimed at reducing the impact of such events in the future.[37]

1.53Submitters noted that improved investment in infrastructure—including housing—would contribute substantially to resilience. The National Farmers’ Federation commented:

…the Committee should recommend the Government continue and better support regional investment, in infrastructure and programs, to build resilience to natural disasters. For example, the NFF supports that the Australian Government should provide funding for the repair and reconstruction of roads affected by recent flooding and ensure this is done to a high standard to withstand future climate change-induced stresses on road and freight networks.[38]

Climate change will exacerbate natural disasters

1.54There was a general recognition amongst submitters that climate change will—and already has—made responding to natural disasters much more difficult. Increased preparation, support and funding will be required to respond to future natural disasters. Greenpeace submitted:

Disaster resilience should begin with prevention. Australia must take strong action to create the greatest possible chance of achieving the ParisAgreement goal of limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees (‘theParisGoal’).[39]

1.55Linking the climate change question to the deployment of the ADF, DrGlasser from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) stated:

…the impact more frequent and severe natural disasters, driven by climate change, will have on the capacity and capability of the Australian Defence Force (ADF). As the global climate continues to warm, the ADF will increasingly be called upon to respond to more severe, national-scale disasters within Australia, large-scale humanitarian disasters in our region, as well as to a broad array of climate-driven threats to regional stability and security. We are greatly underestimating how severe these multiple challenges will be and how rapidly they will arise. In this context, our current expectations of the ADF’s role are both unrealistic and unstainable.[40]

1.56The Northern Territory Government made a similar link:

The NT Government appreciates the ADF’s involvement in emergency and disaster response must be balanced against other priorities, such as maintaining operational readiness and ensuring the security of Australia's borders. Yet, the impacts of climate change are likely to place more pressure on emergency management arrangements, systems and personnel.

With more frequent and intense natural disasters expected, it is important that emergency management and Defence capabilities adjust and evolve in a congruent manner to ensure effective emergency management, response and recovery plans are in place to best mitigate the impact of natural disaster events.[41]

More emphasis on mental health assistance

1.57There is a growing recognition of the importance of mental health in communities affected by disasters but also in those volunteers and staff who respond to those disasters.

1.58Lifeline Australia submitted that there is a clear need for a comprehensive approach to disaster resilience planning in Australia and endorsed the need for mental health and wellbeing to be considered a core element of resilience workforce planning.[42]

1.59Phoenix Australia—Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health’s submission focussed on preparing and supporting the mental health and wellbeing of the disaster workforce in order to ensure its sustainability.

With the increasing frequency and intensity of disasters, there is an urgent need to take a proactive and systemic approach to better prepare and support the wellbeing of the disaster workforce in order to ensure its ongoing capability and capacity to respond to compounding disasters.

A range of evidence-informed wellbeing approaches and initiatives exist that can be adopted or tailored to better equip and support the disaster recovery workforce, and therefore improve Australia's resilience and response to disasters.[43]

1.60Rural Aid not only recognises the issue but has also put forward a plan to respond to it:

Addressing the undisputed mental wellbeing challenge in rural Australia requires long-term thinking and commitment. Rural Aid proposes the appointment of more professionally accredited counsellors into more communities – minimum three-year appointments, to support more farmers (as per its current model), funded by government and corporate/philanthropic supporters.[44]

More funding required for agencies preparing and responding to natural disasters

1.61A perhaps not unexpected theme coming through the submissions was that of funding support to the various agencies preparing for and responding to natural disasters. The Australian Council of Social Service’s recommendations all revolved around greater funding support:

Recommendation 1: Create a permanent enabling fund, the CommunitySector Disaster Resilience Fund to strengthen the sector's preparedness and capability to respond to disasters.

Recommendation 2: Create a permanent flexible contingency fund, the Community Sector Disaster Contingency Fund, to allow service providers access to additional funds to rapidly respond to specific disaster incidents.

Recommendation 3: Fund the sector to strengthen its disaster management tool to improve the knowledge, skills and continuity plans of providers in relation to disasters and extreme weather.[45]

1.62The Australian Local Government Association observed the disconnect between what local council are responsible for, and the funding they receive to maintain it:

Councils look after one-third of all public assets in Australia, around $530billion including roads, bridges, buildings, land, machinery and equipment, but collect but about 3.5 per cent of total Australian tax revenue via rates. The remaining 96.5 per cent of all taxes are collected by state and federal governments.[46]

Local councils

1.63On the question of local councils, the Moreton Bay Council (QLD) provided some more detailed comment:

There is currently no accepted baseline or standard for funding LocalGovernment response, relief and recovery disaster operations across Australia. To support climate adaptation, a baseline level of funding must be established to support permanent local government staff positions to deliver specific resilience, response and recovery actions…

Establishing a well-resourced and sustainable national network of training colleges for delivering nationally accredited vocational and tertiary training for the Emergency Management sector should be the first step for any government wishing to build national resilience and improve community outcomes.[47]

Further work

1.64The committee intends conducting further public hearings in areas around Australia affected by natural disasters such as the south-east coast of NewSouthWales, and the Gulf of Carpentaria, and other regional areas.

1.65Submissions to the inquiry remain open, and the committee looks forward to receiving further community input from individuals and organisations alike—particularly from those areas directly affected by recent natural disasters.

1.66The committee received a number of submissions discussing insurance payouts and from the insurance companies themselves. The committee considered this issue and agreed that it was beyond the scope of this inquiry.

1.67Given this, the committee noted and commended the government’s establishment of an inquiry into the issue of insurance in the House of Representative Economics committee. This committee would like to see this inquiry address the issue of insurance companies’ handling of flood payouts across Australia.

Recommendation 1

1.68The Senate Select Committee on Australia’s Disaster Resilience recommends that the House of Representatives Economics Committee examine insurance companies’ handling of flood payouts.

1.69Similarly, the issue of land planning was also one which this committee considered to be beyond its scope and would recommend that it be referred to a suitable committee—possibly to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs—for review.

Recommendation 2

1.70The Senate Select Committee on Australia’s Disaster Resilience recommends that a parliamentary inquiry be established into land planning with respect to natural disaster resilience.

1.71The committee also notes the existing reviews that are currently underway with regard to natural disaster responses. Namely, the Independent Review of Commonwealth Disaster Funding (Colvin Review),[48] and the IndependentReview of National Natural Disaster Governance Arrangements (Glasser Review).[49]The committee believes that the information we have received would be of benefit to those processes. Accordingly, the committee would further recommend the following:

Recommendation 3

1.72The Senate Select Committee on Australia’s Disaster Resilience recommends that, in light of the current Independent Review of Commonwealth Disaster Funding (Colvin Review), the Review considers evidence provided to the Select Committee around the need to use funds to build back better and standardise a regime across the States and Territories.

Recommendation 4

1.73The Senate Select Committee on Australia’s Disaster Resilience recommends that the Independent Review of National Natural Disaster Governance Arrangements (Glasser Review) look at the current COMDISPLAN and the triaging of emergencies in light of its impact on the Australian Defence Force.

Committee comment

1.74The committee would like to thank all the individuals and organisations who have assisted us up to this date with written submissions and who have participated in the public hearings.

1.75In particular, the committee wishes to thank those individuals who—having themselves gone through the trauma of fires and floods—were willing to recount to us their still painful experiences. We admire both your honesty and your courage.

1.76The committee notes the findings of the 2020 Royal Commission into NaturalDisasters arrangements and supports the full adoption and implementation of the commissioner’s findings. The committee also notes that many of the issues that this committee is uncovering have already been identified by the Royal Commission but are yet to be addressed.

1.77However, the committee does note with some satisfaction that our work appears to have been a catalyst for the recent initiatives of the Albanese Government in the area of natural disaster response. In early August 2023, the government released a discussion paper on Alternative Commonwealth Capabilities for Crisis Response. This consultation process specifically notes:

…the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is the Government’s primary non-financial means to assist State and Territory-led crisis responses, should it be requested. The Defence Strategic Review recommended that the ADF should only be used as the last resort for domestic aid to the civil community. While the ADF will always be available for specialist capabilities, the Government needs viable crisis response alternatives to the ADF and an ability to draw on enhanced latent industrial capacity to uplift its capability when needed.[50]

1.78There appears to be a clear link between this process and the evidence this committee has received since its inception in December 2022.

1.79The committee has resolved to close the inquiry and table its final report on 24April 2024. We look forward to sharing our findings and recommendations with the Parliament and the Australian people at that time.

Senator Jacqui Lambie


JLN Senator for Tasmania


[1]Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR), Submission 29, p. 4.

[3]AIDR, Submission 29, p. 4.

[4]Department of Home Affairs, Submission 80, p. 3.

[5]Department of Health and Aged Care, Submission 16, p. 5.

[6]Mr Andrew Gissing, Chief Executive Officer, Natural Hazards Research Australia, CommitteeHansard, Wednesday, 19 April 2023, Melbourne, p. 2.

[7]United Professional Firefighters Union of WA, Submission 93, p. 5.

[8]Department of Defence, Submission 25, p. 2.

[9]Department of Defence, Submission 25, p. 5.

[10]Air Vice-Marshal Chappell, DSC, CSC, OAM, Head of Military Strategic Commitments, Department of Defence, Committee Hansard, Canberra, Tuesday 14 March 2023, p. 44.

[11]Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, Submission 32, p. 6.

[12]Australian Local Government Association, Submission 49, p. 1.

[13]Mr Graeme Kelly, General Secretary, United Services Union, Committee Hansard, Goonellabah-Lismore, 28 June 2023, p. 20.See also the table Mr Kelly provided top the committee: document five of ‘Additional Documents’,, (accessed 4 September 2023).

[14]Mr Michael Lollback, the Chief Executive Officer of Barcoo Shire Council, Committee Hansard, Brisbane, 12 April 2023, p. 5.

[15]Councillor Linda Scott, President of the Australian Local Government Association, CommitteeHansard, Sydney, 13 April 2023, p. 24.

[16]Northern Territory Government, Submission 97, p. 12.

[17]Deloitte, Submission 63, p. 2.

[18]Business Council of Australia, Submission 85, p. 1.

[19]Mr Adrian Turner, Director, Minderoo Foundation Fire and Flood Resilience, Committee Hansard, Perth, Thursday 18 May 2023, p. 3.

[20]Disaster Resilience Australia, Submission 27, p. 1.

[21]Disaster Resilience Australia, Submission 27, pp. 3‒4.

[22]Mr Geoffrey Evans, Chief Executive Officer, Disaster Relief Australia, Committee Hansard, Canberra, Tuesday 14 March 2023, p. 35.

[23]Mr Geoffrey Evans, Committee Hansard, Canberra, Tuesday 14 March 2023, p. 41.

[24]Mr Geoffrey Evans, Committee Hansard, Canberra, Tuesday 14 March 2023, pp. 41‒42.

[25]Nimbin Neighbourhood and Information Centre, Submission 24, p. 6.

[26]Caravan Industry Association of Australia, Submission 26, p. 2.

[27]Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, Submission 54, p. 2.

[28]National Farmers’ Federation, Submission 18, p. 2.

[29]Byron Shire Council, Submission 123, p. 4.

[30]FNQ Growers, Submission 3, p. 1.

[31]RSPCA, Submission 46, pp. 3‒8.

[32]GIVIT, Submission 51, p. 2.

[33]Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund Inc, Submission 21, p. 5.

[34]Habitat for Humanity Australia, Submission 44, p. 1.

[35]National Insurance Brokers Association, Submission 60, p. 2.

[36]National Insurance Brokers Association, Submission 60, p. 2.

[37]Kyogle Council, Submission 58, p. 2.

[38]National Farmers’ Federation, Submission 18, p. 2.

[39]Greenpeace, Submission 38, p. 8.

[40]Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), Submission 94, p. 1.

[41]Northern Territory Government, Submission 97, p. 1.

[42]Lifeline, Submission 15, p. 3.

[43]Phoenix Australia – Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health, Submission 40, p. 1.

[44]Rural Aid, Submission 91, p. 2.

[45]Australian Council of Social Service, Submission 31, p. 1.

[46]Australian Local Government Association, Submission 49, Attachment 1, p. 1.

[47]Moreton Bay Council, Submission 7, p. 1, & p. 2.

[48]‘Ensuring targeted disaster funding – Independent Review of Commonwealth Disaster Funding’, National Emergency Management Agency webpage,, (accessed 12 September 2023).

[49]‘Independent Review of National Natural Disaster Governance Arrangements’, NationalEmergency Management Agency webpage,, (accessed 12 September 2023).

[50]‘Alternative Commonwealth Capabilities for Crisis Response Discussion Paper’, Department of Home Affairs webpage,, (accessed 24 August 2023).