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Bushfires, Uncertainty & Instability


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As a nation who celebrates “droughts and flooding rains” it is odd that we are so resistant to accepting the persistence of bushfires at the urban interface. Bushfires are a part of Australian environment. However, their inevitability does not equate with admitting defeat in the face of overwhelming odds. It does require sound risk management and integration of a range of measures to reduce their impact and to build resilience from their impact.

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Bushfires, Uncertainty & Instability

  1. 1. Lew Short Principal, Emergency Management & Resilience
  2. 2. “The world has entered the era of ‘mega crisis’ or catastrophic emergencies’ whose force and magnitude defy even the best laid plans and the most robust response systems” Professor Paul ‘t Hart
  3. 3. Limittodirectattack Parallelattack Indirectattack Defensive Limittosafeoperationof helicopters(~50km/h) Potential: • Loss of radio & telco towers • Loss of situational awareness
  4. 4. Capacity of community to receive and act on triggers
  5. 5. Out of Scale Events • Big events expose the vulnerability of government • Wicked problems and leaps of faith • The system will break • Blue Mountains 197 house losses No deaths 173 374 Deaths Black Saturday fires Associated heatwave What level of risk is tolerated?
  6. 6. Sydney Basin drained of fire fighting resources and sent to the Mountains • What if fires had been burning in northern or southern Sydney OR started in these places when the resources were away? Winmalee bushfires/5047638
  7. 7. 24 October 2013
  8. 8. • Victims of the October 2013 Springwood, Winmalee and Yellow Rock bushfires are launching a class action against power company Endeavour Energy • ~$200m
  9. 9. Bushfire Challenges • Catastrophic & out of scale events • Ability to manage large scale asymmetric events • Situational awareness in complex environments
  10. 10. Challenge: How to make information accessible • In a way that provokes a response • Gives greater understanding of risk • Initiates action and adaptation • Builds capacity • Enhances resilience
  11. 11. Lew Short Principal, Emergency Management & Resilience Eco Logical Australia Lew Short Lewshort14