11 May 2023

In less than a year, the Australian Government has taken major steps to significantly enhance the country’s natural hazard preparedness, response and recovery capability.

Building on the establishment of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in September 2022 and the up to $1 billion Disaster Ready Fund from July 2023, the Australian Government has announced initiatives in the 2023-24 Federal Budget that will ensure a cohesive approach to natural hazard preparedness, emergency response, and recovery.

The Federal Government recognises the considerable contribution NEMA has made since its establishment and the key initiatives it is responsible for delivering, as well as its leadership role across the emergency management continuum. Until now, the Agency has not been sufficiently resourced to meet its remit and this has been addressed with a significant uplift in its capability from 1 July 2023.

Communities will be better prepared to deal with the impacts of natural disaster following the allocation of $8.6 million in the 2023-24 Budget to generate a National Emergency Management Stockpile (NEMS) of life-saving resources such as temporary shelters and the availability of water and power supplies.

The NEMS will provide State and Territory governments with rapid access to critical disaster resources, including self-sufficient emergency shelter camps, water desalination and purification systems and emergency high-output power generation.

Communications before and during a disaster will be strengthened through two projects being led in partnership with the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts - the cell broadcast National Messaging System (NMS) and Public Safety Mobile Broadband (PSMB).

The NMS will improve how the Commonwealth delivers emergency messages and improve how States and Territories issue alerts and warnings to mobile phones and devices during a crisis or emergency event, in near real time.

Other 2023-24 Budget initiatives include:

  • A $10.1 million commitment to establish a Taskforce to drive the delivery of a Public Safety Mobile Broadband (PSMB) capability that will lead to fast and secure voice, video and data communications, and instant access to data, images and information in critical situations for first responders and other emergency services personnel.
  • Extending the existing arrangements that have been in place since 2010-11 to provide disaster recovery payments to eligible New Zealand citizens that have been in place since 2010-11. Eligible New Zealand visa holders have access to payments that mirror the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance.
  • Supporting the implementation of the National Disaster Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework, people who have been impacted by the increased frequency and severity of natural disasters.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Management, Senator the Hon Murray Watt:

“Given the increasing severity and frequency of disasters in Australia, it is imperative that the Albanese Government rapidly upscale our response and recovery capabilities while investing in resilience to drive down future risk and costs.

“We are investing in a long-term, capable and professionalised workforce that will deliver regionally and at the state and national level.

“The increased NEMA capability will lead national disaster policy and deliver on expectation by the community that the Commonwealth does more to improve the resilience of communities through greater investment in risk reduction and coordinate all-hazard preparedness, response and recovery with boosts to the National Situation Room.”

Quotes attributable to the Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters:

“Our region was impacted in the past year by floods. This is only projected to get worse, with climate change fuelling a dramatic rise in the scale and intensity of disaster.

“The measures announced in this Budget will ensure a more coordinated and coherent national approach, easing pressure on first responders and helping impacted communities to recover more quickly.”