New emergency management climate change program for Victoria

24 January, 2017

Victoria’s emergency management sector will now be at the frontline of helping communities respond to climate change with a new Emergency Management Climate Change Program.

Victoria’s climate is changing with projections showing Australia’s climate has warmed, seeing an increase in extreme fire weather, and a longer fire season, across large parts of Australia since the 1970s. Oceans around Australia have also warmed and ocean acidity levels and sea levels have increased, amplifying the effects of high tides and storm surges.

The Emergency Management Climate Change Program, led by Emergency Management Victoria, will work with communities, businesses, government and agencies to integrate climate risks, impacts and projections into all phases of emergency management.

Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said as the frequency, intensity, severity and duration of extreme weather events in Victoria increases, not only will we be called upon to manage the emergencies that inevitably arise – the sector has a critical role in working with communities to reduce their consequences.

"As the emergency management sector, we must acknowledge and prepare for the impact of climate change, on all aspects of emergency preparedness, response and recovery."

"Responding to the impacts of climate change, and helping communities be better prepared for the risks and affects, is at the heart of our shared responsibility and is essential to building resilience," Mr. Lapsley said. 

Victoria's future will face a range of other global challenges with local impacts including population and demographic change, as well as globalisation and urbanisation, which will impact the resilience of communities on a day to day basis. 

From 2017, Emergency Management Victoria will work with emergency management sector to:

  • consolidate reforms by preparing guidelines to help decision-makers take climate change into account in state, regional and local emergency management planning
  • use the Community Based Emergency Management Program connect people within communities and help them to use local knowledge, expertise and resources to plan for emergencies in the face of climate change
  • incorporate climate change projections into risk data to improve risk management and scenario planning to help understand and reduce the risks and consequences of future emergencies, and understand future capability and capacity requirements
  • build on the success of the climate change and emergency management forum in 2015 to enable emergency management practitioners to develop a shared understanding of the challenges of climate change. These forums enable information sharing within the emergency management sector and build capability to address the risks of climate change
  • strengthen the organisational capacity for agencies to adapt to climate change and reduce their emissions footprint
  • through the Critical Infrastructure Resilience arrangements, work with critical infrastructure owner operators to improve consideration of climate change in planning to minimise the shocks and outages experienced by these lifeline services.