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States should share disaster impact assessment data: ICA

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A government-funded advisory committee should be established to collate disaster impact-assessment data across states and territories, The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says.

The proposal was made at the second in a series of Building Stronger Homes Roundtables held at Parliament House in Canberra last week, exploring the role of construction standards in national natural disaster resilience.

The latest roundtable was attended by representatives from the property, banking, real estate and architecture industries, as well as state and federal government departments.

ICA CEO Andrew Hall says there needs to be greater sharing and coordination of data between relevant industries and state governments.

“There is a tremendous community benefit in sharing impact assessment data as it allows for funds and other benefits (such as emergency accommodation) to be made available to residents without the insurer having to wait until the property is accessible,” Mr Hall said.

“An advisory committee established and funded by government is recommended for the collation of data and the reinforcement of resilience resources.”

The ICA is calling on the Federal Government to establish the committee, comprised of government, industry & consumer stakeholders to guide future development of Code and Standards reforms.

This Committee would develop:

  • Risk methodology for interpreting disaster risk with a focus on bushfire, flood, cyclone-wind and coastal erosion
  • A central data repository that integrates data sources (government & industry) and informs risk methodologies
  • Cost benefit analysis of different types of disaster and construction method by region and social impact on communities
  • Awareness raising tools for industry and consumers on appropriate use of guidance, codes, standards, products and services
  • Guidance resources for consumers and builders on how to retrofit your home and build a new home for each disaster type and region.

The ICA and Master Builders Australia (MBA), which jointly host the roundtables, are calling for the Federal Government to increase investment in disaster mitigation and building resilience funding to strengthen existing homes and communities against extreme weather events.

The latest meeting focused on the financial impacts of natural disasters, the cost of rebuilding and the learnings from existing resilient homes programs, with the aim of creating actionable change.

Michael Sukkar, Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing, addressed the forum. He spoke of the challenge of making existing homes more resilient, noting that more than 7 million Australian homes are more than 20 years old and many of them are in high-risk areas.

He acknowledged that there is a role for both public and private mitigation and that robust data and evidence is required to underpin this work.

The third Building Stronger Homes Roundtable will be held in Sydney in April.