Project design and methods

The overall research design is for a comparative case study to be completed within one year. Two of the most significant impacts of climate change on Australia relevant to the Disaster Management sector are more frequent and intense floods and bushfires. These kinds of impacts are generally managed at the state, territory and local level of government. This project will therefore undertake a comparison of the following key case studies:

  • 1) The 2010-11 Queensland floods and the results of the Commission of Inquiry, due to be delivered in February 2012;
  • 2) The 2009 Victorian Bushfires and the results of the subsequent Royal Commission;
  • 3) The 2011 Perth Hills Bushfire Inquiry; and,
  • 4) The state-wide risk profiles developed for Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, and the ACT in accordance with the National Emergency Management Risk Assessment Guidelines (NERAG) and how they deal with climate change.

This project goes beyond what has been done in the inquiries to be investigated in several ways. First, each inquiry has been limited to a specific event within a specific jurisdiction. Our project broadens the scope to all extreme weather events and generalises the results so that they are applicable nationally and internationally. Second, our research adds climate change adaptation to the analysis, something that that has not been a major focus for the inquiries. Third, we are developing risk-context management tools that are far beyond all the inquiries' terms of reference. Finally, we are adding a theoretical framework of network governance that will be of both practical use and academic value.

The aim is to learn from the successes and failures with respect to disaster management and climate change adaptation. Data will be collected in the first stage from the respective inquiries, associated submissions and relevant reports. This will be supplemented by a search of the relevant academic literature and other documents from the partner organisations. The second stage of data collection consists of consultations with partner organisations and key stakeholders in government, business and community organisations supplemented by targeted semi-structured interviews. The data produced in stage one will be analysed to identify the potential social, political and economic factors that may give rise to conflicts or barriers to effective policymaking and implementation. It will also highlight opportunities and problems with current approaches to decision making under uncertainty. These will then be used to frame consultations that will flesh out the detail and fill in the gaps in stage two. A network governance framework will be developed to identify where engagement with key stakeholders could facilitate better policy, planning and risk management.