Building Stronger Homes Roundtable series responds to bushfire planning oversights

Nov 17, 2020
  • Article by Tili Bensley-Nettheim

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) and the Master Builders Association (MBA) are responding to the final report from the Royal Commission into National Disaster Arrangements with a series of roundtable discussions on building bushfire resilient homes. 

The two industry groups have heeded key findings from the long-awaited final report from the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements that found that 90% of buildings in bushfire prone areas have not been built to bushfire planning regulations.

In response, the ICA and MBA will host a series of roundtable discussions to create a pathway towards national policies that improve property resilience, building standards and land-use planning.

The Building Stronger Homes Roundtable will enable builders and insurers to work together, harnessing industry insights from both insurance data and builders experience, to help map actions that can improve the resilience and insurability of existing and future Australian homes.

The final report of the Royal Commission recognised the importance of mitigation and resilience, better building standards and land-use planning in protecting properties and communities from natural disasters.

The report recommended the establishment of a national body to champion making Australia more resilient to natural disasters, focusing on reducing long-term disaster risk and harmonising approaches. It also recommended mandatory consideration of natural disaster risk in land-use planning decisions and stronger building standards.

ICA CEO Andrew Hall says: “Australians’ homes are their greatest financial asset. The Royal Commission has identified clear priorities that can reduce the risks to homes. Whatever efforts we can take to reduce vulnerability and reduce the risk of loss must be a priority for industry and Australian governments.”

Denita Wawn, Master Builders Australia CEO, says: “The building and insurance sectors are committed to exploring practical and effective ways to deliver better building quality outcomes that enable industry to deliver more resilient buildings and give consumers confidence.” 

“This includes keeping premiums at a sustainable and affordable level for consumers and the building and construction supply chain.”

The first roundtable will be convened in Canberra on Thursday November 26, attended by senior industry and government leaders. Experts in science, banking and finance, behavioural and market economics will also be invited to participate in the roundtables.

The joint mitigation and resilience roundtables will identify key national priorities for ensuring Australian homes (including apartments and social housing) are resilient, secure and insurable in the long term. They will focus on:
• The built environment and codes
• The importance and structure of land-use planning
• Current and potential mitigation and hazard reduction investment priorities
• The importance of information systems, data, and coordination

A final report from the roundtables will be presented at the conclusion by mid-2021.

The Australian design community rallied around communities affected by the 2019-2020 bushfires, offering their services free of charge through the Architects Assist initiative.

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