In 2009, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG)* endorsed the National Partnership Agreement on Natural Disaster Resilience. This agreement provided Commonwealth funding to local regions to increase the resilience of their communities to natural disasters. As a condition of this initial funding, each State and Territory was required to undertake risk assessments to inform and address priorities for risk mitigation.
In 2013 the State Emergency Management Committee (SEMC) initiated the State Risk Project, which was designed to build a comprehensive and consistent understanding of the risks faced at state, district and local levels. Consequently, a series of state-level risk assessment workshops were held to assess the risks posed by seven sudden-onset natural hazards. The initial hazards assessed were heatwave, flood, bushfire, cyclone, tsunami, earthquake and storm. The results were reported to the Commonwealth in 2013 and an update of the state's risk profile was delivered in 2017.
Western Australia currently has 28 hazards prescribed within emergency management (EM) legislation. These hazards are natural or man-made in origin, or a combination of both. The State Risk Project has identified a range of potential vulnerabilities that may be affected by any of these hazards. These vulnerabilities, grouped under six key themes reflecting the State core objectives, are considered of critical importance to the wellbeing of the state. The six themes are people, economy, infrastructure, social setting, government and environment. The State Risk Project seeks to gain a robust understanding of risks genuinely faced. From there, the State can use the information to formulate appropriate and cost-effective mitigation strategies that lower risk and contribute to building a more resilient Western Australia.
The State Risk Project uses both the methodology and criteria outlined in the National Emergency Risk Assessment Guidelines (NERAG) and internationally recognised standards for the risk assessment process (AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009). Assessments, based on a worst-case scenario event (and a near worst-case scenario event for state-level), are conducted in workshop settings. The scenarios are scalable for state, district and local levels, and are tailored accordingly. This methodology ensures all data is consistent and can be compared.
For the state-level phase of the project, the majority of risk assessment workshops were held in Perth between 2013 and 2018. The final state-level workshop, assessing risks associated with the hazards of hostile act and terrorist act, was conducted on the 26th May 2021.
The district level risk assessment workshop program (for priority hazards) across all of the state's EM districts took place during 2015 and 2016. Our understanding of risks has grown significantly, largely as a result of the data collected in the project's district phase. Risk data was used to create comprehensive risk reports and risk profiles for each EM district in WA. These reports are now available on our District page.
The local level phase of the project commenced in 2017, with local government participation and support for the project being very strong. The aim of the local level component is to provide training, support and tools that local governments can use to assist them in undertaking the emergency risk management process (as required by existing policy).
*Now the National Federation Reform Council (NFRC).