Australians would be better protected from fires, floods and storms if disaster planning and research was better coordinated, a business group says.
The Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities has commissioned a report that will take stock of data and research on natural hazards, analyising where gaps exist and how it could be made more accessible.
The group is made up of insurers IAG and Munich Re, Investa Property Group, Australian Red Cross, Optus and Westpac.
“It’s not clear who is doing what, where overlaps exist and what is not being researched extensively enough,” Insurance Australia Group chief executive Mike Wilkins said.
“A more coordinated approach to research would enable government, industry and community to more easily identify information that could help save lives and property.
“It would also help ensure funds are directed into research areas where they can have the most benefit.”
In 2013 the business roundtable produced a report that found the cost of natural disasters in Australia would rise from $6.3 billion a year to about $23 billion in 2050.
Half of that amount could be saved by pre-disaster investment to build resilience to make communities safer, rather than the current focus which is dominated by investment in disaster recovery, the report said.
The business group’s next report, expected to be completed by mid-2014, will also include assessment of research into the long-term psychological and social cost of natural disasters.
As Victoria recently marked the fifth anniversary of the Black Saturday bushfires, mental health professionals spoke out about people from affected areas suffering post-traumatic stress disorders.