Report on performance

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Outcome 2-Regional outputs and programmes

Output 2.2.3-Natural disaster relief

Highlights

Coordinated disaster recovery assistance in response to floods in the Hunter and Central Coast regions of New South Wales and the Gippsland region of Victoria;

Provided $13 million for the construction of a levee in Launceston, Tasmania, under the Natural Disaster Mitigation Programme; and

Negotiated budget extension and enhancement for the National Aerial Firefighting Centre to continue development and deployment of aerial firefighting capabilities.

Overview-Output 2.2.3-Natural disaster relief

Output 2.2.3 is delivered by the Territories and Local Government division.

Under Output 2.2.3, the Department administers Australian Government financial assistance for the states and territories through various natural disaster programmes and initiatives.

While protecting the community and property from natural disasters is primarily the responsibility of state and territory governments, the Australian Government provides support in recognition of the unpredictable nature of natural disasters such as bushfires, floods and cyclones, and the devastating impact they can have on families, businesses and communities.

The output includes seven administered programmes:

  • AMSA search and rescue reimbursements (no performance indicators published);
  • Bushfire mitigation;
  • Regional Flood Mitigation;
  • Donation to the Australian Red Cross Bushfire Appeal;
  • National Aerial Firefighting;
  • Natural Disaster Mitigation; and
  • Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.

Table 4.30 summarises the output's performance in 2006-07.

Summary of performance-Output 2.2.3-Natural disaster relief

Table 4.30 Summary of performance-Output 2.2.3

PBS/PAES performance indicatorsResults

Effectiveness

Communities are assisted in recovering from the cost and social impact of natural disastersa

The Department provided policy advice to governments and delivered financial assistance through relief, recovery and mitigation programmes to assist communities to recover from natural disasters.

The Department's activities were coordinated with the activities of state government agencies and other Australian Government agencies.

Quality

Information on natural disaster events and risks is collected systematically for Australian communities

The Department, in collaboration with Geoscience Australia and Emergency Management Australia, continued to work with state and territory counterparts to implement natural disaster risk assessment and data collection reforms approved in principle by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

The Department is represented on the Emergency Management Information Development Plan Working Group, which is chaired by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The plan formulated by the working group was endorsed by the Australian Emergency Management Committee on 7 September 2006 and released on 31 October 2006.

The Department also has representation on the National Information Management Advisory Group, which was tasked with monitoring implementation and reporting on progress. The plan details a framework to integrate and coordinate the development of information required to support policy, planning and accountability in the emergency sector.

Other agencies and governments are assisted to evaluate and improve bushfire and natural disaster management

The Department provided leadership on land use planning and building code reforms to reduce avoidable risks and damage arising from natural disasters.

Agencies of the Australian Government and state and territory governments provided progress reports on implementation of aspects of COAG bushfire and natural disaster recommendations, through the Australasian Police Ministers' Council (APMC) and the Local Government and Planning Ministers' Council. The Department is a member of the Australian Emergency Management Committee, which reports against COAG recommendations to the APMC.

The Australian Emergency Management Committee approved a risk assessment framework which will inform the development of practical risk assessment guidelines for use by state, territory and local government officials in their risk management processes.

The Department was represented on the National Risk Assessment Advisory Group, the Technical Risk Assessment Advisory Committee and the National Flood Risk Advisory Group, which provided input from all levels of government and the private sector into the risk assessment processes for a range of natural hazards.

Grants and loans are administered which assist communities to mitigate against and recover from disasters

The Department administered a range of grants and loans to help communities mitigate the effects of and recover from natural disasters (see Table 4.31). In 2006-07 these mainly related to:

  • the Bushfire Mitigation Programme;
  • the Natural Disaster Mitigation Programme;
  • National Aerial Firefighting; and
  • Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.

Price

$3.8 million

The actual price of this output in 2006-07 was $3.5 million.

Overall performance

a Performance indicator modified in the 2007-08 PBS.

Table 4.31 Trends in natural disaster mitigation and relief programmes

 2003-042004-052005-062006-072007-08 estimate
Administered expense by type of disaster a
Flood mitigation $7.3m $17.1m $22.2m $12.2m $12.0m
Bushfire mitigation/responseb $6.7m $13.0m $12.7m $15.9m $19.0m
Other/not allocated by type $1.7m $2.2m $1.6m $2.4m $12.7m
All mitigation $15.7m $32.3m $36.5m $30.5m $43.6m
Natural disaster mitigation
New projects approved 128 211 119c 107 -
Total projects funded 141 225 200c 139 -
Total cost of programme $5.5m $10.5m $26.0m $18.9m $22.4m
Regional flood mitigation
New projects approved 22 25 - - -
Total projects funded 78 61 - - -
Total cost of programme $4.7m $11.3m - - -
Bushfire mitigationd
New projects approved n/a 1,245 407 315 -
Total cost of programme n/a $5.0m $4.9m $ 5.1m $5.1m
Natural disaster relief and recovery arrangements
Disasters notified 39 29 51 52 -
Total cost of arrangements $46.9m $67.7m $69.1m $103.7 $86.9m
Price of output $3.4m $3.6m $3.8m $3.5m $3.7m

a The forward estimates for disaster mitigation and relief reflect provisions at 30 June 2007 and are subject to change.
b Bushfire mitigation estimates include the National Aerial Firefighting funding assistance as well as mitigation funding where allocated.
c Includes figures for the Regional Flood Mitigation Programme.
d Includes Bushfire Mitigation Programme funding only, not National Aerial Firefighting assistance.

Administered programmes-Output 2.2.3-Natural disaster relief

Table 4.32 Summary of performance-Bushfire mitigation

PBS/PAES performance indicatorsResults

Effectiveness

Fire trail networks are enhanced

The Department administered funds for projects to construct, maintain and provide signage for fire trails to assist communities to better prepare for bushfires.

A total of 318 projects received funding in 2006-07. The scope of the projects ranged from trail maintenance through to the construction of bridges and creek crossings.

Funding applications were assessed and prioritised by state or territory assessment committees before being submitted for Australian Government consideration and approval.

Quality

Payments are made in line with project progress

Under this programme, 50 per cent of project funds are paid on approval and the balance is paid in instalments subject to the satisfactory progress of works.

For details of the allocations and actual payments made in 2006-07, see Table 4.33.

Cost

$5.1 million

The actual cost of this programme in 2006-07 was $5.1 million.

Overall performance

Table 4.33 Distribution of Bushfire Mitigation Programme funds in 2006-07

State/territoryAllocationPayment
Australian Capital Territory $200,000 $101,863
New South Wales $1,370,000 $1,383,964
Northern Territory $250,000 $115,696
Queensland $965,000 $965,084
South Australia $425,000 $504,617
Tasmania $275,000 $390,469
Victoria $965,000 $914,892
Western Australia $550,000 $678,417
Total $5,000,000 $5,055,002a

a Includes $55,002 carried over from 2005-06.

Table 4.34 Summary of performance-Donation to the Australian Red Cross Bushfire Appeal

PBS/PAES performance indicatorsResults

Effectiveness

Donation assists families, small businesses and communities recover from the effects of bushfires in Tasmania and Victoriaa

In December 2006, the Prime Minister announced details of two $50,000 donations to the Australian Red Cross Bushfire Appeal, following devastating bushfires on the east coast of Tasmania and in the north-east and Gippsland regions of Victoria.

Quality

Donation is paid promptly to facilitate early distribution of financial assistancea

The Department ensured that these donations were promptly paid to the Australian Red Cross, enabling early distribution of financial assistance to those most affected.

Location

Bushfire affected communities in Tasmania and Victoriaa

Funds were provided to bushfire-affected communities in the local government areas of:

  • Break O'Day, Glamorgan-Spring Bay and Sorell in Tasmania; and
  • Alpine, East Gippsland, La Trobe, Mansfield, Wangaratta and Wellington in Victoria.

Cost

$0.1 million

The actual cost of this programme in 2006-07 was $0.1 million.

Overall performance

a Performance indicator first published in the 2006-07 PAES.

Table 4.35 Summary of performance-National Aerial Firefighting

PBS/PAES performance indicatorsResults

Effectiveness

The National Aerial Firefighting Centre is able to acquire and deploy firefighting aircraft around Australia

 

During the 2006-07 bushfire season, the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) contracted 25 specialised firefighting aircraft across Australia.

NAFC covers all states and territories except the Northern Territory, which decided not to participate in the national arrangement but works with the NAFC to determine how the territory can benefit from the scheme.

During 2006-07 NAFC-contracted aircraft were used to directly protect communities in outer metropolitan and rural areas in every member state.

More information about NAFC activities is available from the centre's website, www.nafc.org.au.

The Department administered $8 million in Australian Government funding for NAFC. The Australian Government funding meets up to half of the lease costs of a range of firefighting aircraft, with the relevant state or territory meeting the remaining lease and operating costs.

Quality

Payments are made in line with the Australian Government's obligations

NAFC reports fully complied with reporting requirements and Australian Government payments were made according to the agreed schedule.

A funding agreement between the Department and NAFC specifies the Australian Government's payment requirements and NAFC's reporting requirements. NAFC is required to provide the Australian Government with information on the acquisition, deployment, effectiveness and suitability of aircraft in meeting normal and crisis demand, and to deliver value for money.

Cost

$8.0 million

The actual cost of this programme in 2006-07 was $8.0 million.

Overall performance

Table 4.36 Summary of performance-Natural Disaster Mitigation

PBS/PAES performance indicatorsResults

Effectiveness

Communities are assisted to identify and treat natural disaster risks

The Department administered funds for projects to help communities develop a clearer understanding of the natural disaster risks they face and implement a range of measures to minimise the impact of future events. Costs were generally shared one-third each by the Australian Government, the state or territory government and the local government.

The projects funded during the year included:

  • a detailed assessment of potential sites for detention dams in the upper Brown Hill Creek catchment in South Australia;
  • historical research and sediment studies to determine the magnitude of past tsunamis, and the current risk of tsunamis, on the southern Tasmanian coastline;
  • the development and dissemination of 'floodsafe' toolkits for homes and businesses in New South Wales;
  • aerial surveying and mapping to help determine effective disaster mitigation measures at a number of locations in Queensland; and
  • upgrading of the Broome Recreation and Aquatic Centre in Western Australia, to enable its use for emergency shelter and accommodation during and after severe weather events.

Quality

Priority is given to proposals for research on or treatment of regions with a risk of natural disaster

Funds are notionally allocated on a jurisdictional basis according to natural disaster expenditure data provided by the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics. Any funds not taken up are offered for reallocation to other jurisdictions. For details of the allocations and actual payments made in 2006-07, see Table 4.37.

Applications for funding are received annually. Proposals are assessed and prioritised by state and territory assessment committees. The Australian Government has observer status on these committees.

Payments are made in line with project progress

Under this programme, 50 per cent of project funds were paid on approval of the project and the balance was paid in instalments subject to the satisfactory progress of works.

Cost

$22.4 million

The actual cost of this programme in 2006-07 was $18.9 million.

Underspend is due to planning requirements and weather conditions which have delayed projects. Works are ongoing and will be completed in 2007- 08.

Overall performance

Table 4.37 Distribution of Natural Disaster Mitigation Programme funds in 2006-07

State/territoryAllocationaPayment
Australian Capital Territory $517,668 $182,167
New South Wales $6,335,773 $7,249,655
Northern Territory $1,130,000 $1,355,000
Queensland $5,452,570 $5,556,131
South Australia $1,199,300 $670,036
Tasmania $867,402 $433,700
Victoria $1,736,976 $1,541,819
Western Australia $1,790,432 $1,914,760
Total $19,030,121 $18,903,268

Note: Includes combined allocations and payments made under the Regional Flood Mitigation Programme and the Natural Disaster Mitigation Programme.
a Represents funds approved for proposals submitted for consideration in the 2006-07 round.

Table 4.38 Summary of performance-Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangementsa

PBS/PAES performance indicatorsResults

Effectiveness

The cost of disaster relief and recovery measures to state and territory governments is reduced b

The Department administered funds under this programme to reimburse state and territory governments for costs associated with:

  • the relief of personal hardship and distress, such as emergency food, clothing, accommodation and house repairs;
  • the restoration or replacement of essential public assets damaged as a direct result of a disaster; and
  • concessional loans to farmers, small businesses and voluntary non-profit bodies to replace assets that had been significantly damaged.

During the year, the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements were enhanced in line with recommendations of the COAG report Natural disasters in Australia: reforming mitigation, relief and recovery arrangements, to further help people, businesses and communities to recover from devastating natural disasters.

The enhanced arrangements include:

  • a community recovery package comprising one or more of the following
    • a community recovery fund;
    • recovery grants for small businesses; and
    • recovery grants for primary producers;
  • financial counselling for affected individuals;
  • funding to upgrade essential infrastructure to more resilient standards; and
  • small grants for voluntary non-profit bodies and needy persons.

Elements of the community recovery package were activated in 2006-07 in response to devastating bushfires in Tasmania and Victoria, and floods and storms in New South Wales and South Australia.

Quality

Funding is available in respect of all major rapid onset natural disasters

Disasters covered by the programme include bushfires, floods, storms and cyclones. In 2006-07, 48 major disaster events, including 30 bushfires, were notified by state or territory governments.

State and territory governments are reimbursed for eligible expenses within 21 days of submitting a claim

There were two payments during the year that were not made within 21 days of receipt of claims.

In 2006-07 a reimbursement of $141 million was made to Queensland, of which the majority related to expenditure arising from tropical cyclone Larry. This was one of the largest payments ever made under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.

Cost

$86.9 million

The actual cost of this programme in 2006-07 was $103.7 million.

Payments are driven by the severity and frequency of natural disaster events. The majority of payments made in 2007-08 related to tropical cyclones Larry and Monica.

Overall performance

a Administered programme name modified in the 2007-08 PBS.
b Performance indicator modified in the 2007-08 PBS.

Outlook-Output 2.2.3-Natural disaster relief

The demand for financial assistance for relief, and particularly recovery, from the impacts of natural disasters is increasing. In 2007-08 the Department will continue to participate in a range of intergovernmental forums on disaster management and closely monitor the need for, and take-up of, funding under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements, mitigation programmes and the National Aerial Firefighting Programme.

The Department will continue to effectively and efficiently administer the programmes to assist affected communities and to reduce the risk and impact of future disasters.

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