Management approaches

Integrated management

Planning and operational agencies acknowledge that there are efficiencies in integrating management to address multiple hazards and vulnerabilities. For example, the joint Australian and Queensland governments’ Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan recognises that ‘climate change will likely continue to be the strongest driver of ecological change’ (Australian and Queensland governments 2018). The plan provides guidance on cross-domain approaches to achieve better environmental outcomes, which flow into better economic, social and cultural outcomes.

The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements (Binskin et al. 2020) highlighted good practice in preparing for, and responding to, natural disasters, but also pointed out the inconsistencies and challenges arising from independent approaches from the states and territories. Recommendations relating to national approaches to disaster risk reduction and management have been acted on with the establishment of the National Recovery and Resilience Agency and an update to Emergency Management Australia, which manages immediate response to, and recovery from, disasters and emergencies. A new Australian Climate Service has also been established to coordinate data, tools, platforms and advice from across Australian Government agencies in support of policy, planning and operational decision-making. Each of these agencies works with its state and territory counterparts to support integration across jurisdictions as well as across events.

Recognising that reducing disaster risk is critical to supporting communities, businesses and economies to survive shocks such as natural disasters, the Australian Government worked with states and territories, local government and the private sector to develop a National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework, which was released in 2018. The framework is now being translated into an action plan to guide its implementation, including through the development of a National Disaster Risk Information and Services Capability, and underpins the work of the National Recovery and Resilience Agency.

Numerous intersecting frameworks guide disaster management at the state and local government levels (Wise et al. 2020). In South Australia, the Regional Climate Partnerships provide a collaborative approach to harmonising climate resilience activities. With the establishment of Resilience NSW in 2021, New South Wales is also set to take an integrated approach to disaster mitigation, preparedness and adaptation.

Indigenous management

In the past few decades, there has been growing recognition of caring for Country, and Indigenous land and sea ranger programs, including a movement to better manage and regenerate resources by engaging Indigenous people as cultural land and sea managers (see also Indigenous fire management).

There is a crucial need for more Indigenous-led and co-designed research programs that can demonstrate the benefits of Indigenous management and adaptation (Costello et al. 2021). Dominant scientific approaches often lack Indigenous leadership in design and delivery of research. Most research has too little Indigenous engagement, and this is often post hoc consultation within narrow timeframes (Fletcher et al. 2021). Instead, upfront partnerships are needed that focus on building respectful and trusting relationships that can better support or integrate Indigenous knowledge and practice (James et al. 2021).