Recent weather and climate-related disasters, especially the bushfires, have stretched Australia’s largely "volunteer" emergency management workforce to breaking point.
The current state and federal approaches to disaster management are failing as there are inadequate laws and policies to fund government agencies and compensate victims, especially where they are uninsured. With the government defunding research and ignoring recommendations on disasters, resilience and adaptation planning, is a community-based, collaborative approach the only way forward?
Yet, the impediment to such comprehensive action is that, for many people, the scale of the threat remains beyond imagination. An urgent challenge is therefore the question of representation, especially representation of the multi-species devastation, to ensure that the graphic horror of the recent bushfires is not lost in the danger of abstractness.
Danielle Celermajer is a Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney.
Dale Dominey-Howse is a Professor in Hazard and Disaster Risk Sciences.
Rosemary Lyster is the Professor of Climate and Environmental Law at the University of Sydney Law School and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law.
Michael Mann is a Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI).