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Ensuring Australia's community safety

Objective

Increase resilience to natural hazards in Australian communities.

Role

To achieve this objective, Geoscience Australia supports Australia’s capability to manage the impact of natural hazards.

Performance criteria and results

Table 3: Strategic priority: Ensuring Australia’s community safety—performance

Community Safety

Program deliverable1

Result

Release hazard assessments for: Australian Tsunami, National Seismic and Tropical Cyclone

Three national-scale hazard assessments were released:

  • National Seismic, released on 17 October 2018 in conjunction with the Australian Geoscience Council Convention
  • Tropical Cyclone, released on 1 November 2018 in line with the start of the tropical cyclone season
  • Australian Tsunami, released on 5 November 2018 to coincide with World Tsunami Awareness Day.

Each assessment was released with accompanying Geoscience Australia records and a suite of data products.

Provide information, advice, data and tools to prepare for and respond to hazards events and threats

Geoscience Australia participated in all elements of the Australian Government’s national resilience strategy and the development of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework, including the National Steering Committee for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Australian Vulnerability Profile Project, the Australian Disaster Preparedness Framework, and a one-year pilot to demonstrate the benefits of establishing a national climate and disaster risk information capability for Australia. Geoscience Australia worked with:

  • state government emergency services; to develop state-wide natural hazard risk assessments; establish agreements for future collaboration; provide hazard scenarios for exercises and impact assessment projects; and provide advice and support during and following events (for example, tropical cyclone Veronica in 2019 and the Lake Muir earthquake in 2018)
  • the Australian Tsunami Advisory Group, a reference group of the Australian – New Zealand Emergency Management Committee, to receive endorsement to initiate the first tranche of a project to develop tsunami information for locations of national strategic importance.

Deliver portfolio analysis and Central Business District models for the Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation

Geoscience Australia:

  • completed an engineering survey of the central business district buildings in Hobart, Tasmania, and developed a three-dimensional blast modelling capability of the area for the Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation (ARPC)
  • undertook plume dispersion scenario modelling and loss assessment for Sydney and Melbourne, with the Defence Science and Technology Group
  • provided support for the ARPC $60 million annual retrocession purchase of $3.3 billion cover by making presentations on the loss modelling to reinsurers, on behalf of the ARPC.

1 Source: 2018–19 Corporate Plan.

Key performance indicator1

Target

2018–19 result

Number of flood study entries accessible to the public through the Australian Flood Risk Information Portal

1400

1571

The number of flood risk studies accessible to the public through the Australian Flood Risk Information Portal grew to 1571.

1 Source: 2018–19 Corporate Plan.

Seismic Alerts

Program deliverable1

Result

Provide 24 hour, 7 days per week earthquake monitoring and alerts

Real-time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week earthquake monitoring, detection, analysis and alerting activities continued. Operational capability was enhanced through improvements to the National Earthquake Alerts Centre (NEAC) decision support system. Work on additional near-real-time Australian earthquake products and services is ongoing.

In 2018–19, the NEAC detected, analysed and catalogued 3025 earthquakes, including 543 Australian earthquakes above magnitude 2.0 (1429 Australian earthquakes, in total, were added to Geoscience Australia’s publicly available National Earthquake Catalogue in 2018–19).

The NEAC provided rapid notification to stakeholders of 38 Australian earthquakes of magnitude 3.5 or higher, including two widely felt earthquakes in the Lake Muir area of southwest Western Australia (magnitude 5.3 on 16 September 2018 and magnitude 5.2 on 8 November 2018). The NEAC detected and catalogued over 750 aftershocks in the Lake Muir sequence, including four earthquakes above magnitude

3.5. The NEAC received over 2800 felt reports from the public in relation to the Lake Muir earthquakes, and 12 387 felt reports in total for the year. The largest Australian earthquake recorded during the year was a magnitude 5.9 event northwest of Carnarvon, Western Australia, on 16 December 2018.

The NEAC provided rapid notification to the Australian Government Crisis Coordination Centre (AG-CCC), and other stakeholders, for 130 international earthquakes above magnitude 6.0. The largest international earthquake during the year was magnitude 8.1 in the Fiji region on 19 August 2018. This earthquake was also the largest potentially tsunamigenic earthquake during the period.

In its functional role within the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre (JATWC), the NEAC provided real-time alerts of 38 potentially tsunamigenic earthquakes, including 22 within the Australian region.

In December 2018, Geoscience Australia commenced support arrangements for New Zealand’s National Geohazards Monitoring Centre, in relation to monitoring for large earthquakes with potential to significantly impact New Zealand, either directly or through tsunami generation. This arrangement was formalised through an exchange of letters between Geoscience Australia and GNS Science, under the umbrella of the Australia – New Zealand Science, Research and Innovation Cooperation Agreement.

Provide ongoing monitoring of specified regions for detection of suspected nuclear tests

No nuclear explosions were detected. Aftershocks from previous explosions continued to be detected, analysed and reported.

1 Source: 2018–19 Corporate Plan.

Key performance indicator1

Target

2018–19 result

All significant earthquakes detected, analysed and reported within agreed timeframes, with alerts issued for potentially tsunamigenic earthquakes

100%

98%

The AG-CCC was notified of 37 (out of 38) significant Australian earthquakes, and 129 (out of 130) significant international earthquakes, within the agreed timeframes.

The Australian Tsunami Warning System (ATWS) was alerted to 38 (out of 38) potentially tsunamigenic earthquakes within the agreed timeframe.

The Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWMS) was alerted to 36 (out of 38) potentially tsunamigenic earthquakes within the agreed timeframe.

The exceptions were:

  • 11 Oct 2018—The JATWC alert for a magnitude 6.5 earthquake in the Kuril Islands area was issued 1 minute outside the agreed timeframe for the IOTWMS, and within the agreed timeframes for the ATWS and AG-CCC. The earthquake did not generate a tsunami.
  • 21 Nov 2019—The NEAC notification for a magnitude 3.7 earthquake near Cowell, South Australia, was issued 6 minutes outside the agreed timeframe for the AG-CCC. This was due to duty officer error. The earthquake was not widely reported as felt, and no damage was reported.
  • 23 Jan 2019—The JATWC alert for a magnitude 6.9 earthquake in the Prince Edward Islands area was issued 3 minutes outside the agreed timeframe for the IOTWMS, due to the sparseness of the international monitoring network in this region. Agreed timeframes were achieved for the ATWS and AG-CCC. The earthquake did not generate a tsunami.
  • 30 Mar 2019—The NEAC notification of a magnitude 6.2 earthquake in the New Britain region of Papua New Guinea was issued 3 minute outside the agreed timeframe for the AG-CCC, due to an operator error. Performance indicators for the JATWC (ATWS and IOTWMS) do not apply to this event.

All suspected nuclear events detected, analysed and reported within agreed timeframes

100%

100%

All nuclear events were detected, analysed and reported within agreed timeframes.

1 Source: 2018–19 Corporate Plan.

Situational Awareness Information Framework

Program deliverable1

Result

Provide spatial support and advice to strengthen disaster and emergency management capabilities for the Australian Government

Geoscience Australia provided access to critical datasets for the Australian Government disaster management and emergency services providers via the EM- LINK system. Geoscience Australia upgraded the Emergency Management Spatial Resources Directory in October 2018 and trained Australian Government Crisis Coordination Centre staff in its use, which allowed those staff to undertake spatial analysis and map generation themselves.

Deliver updated information products to Airservices Australia to support air safety

Geoscience Australia provided air chart update and production services and vertical obstructions data updates for Airservices Australia throughout the year.

Develop and deliver updated information exposure information to support Australian Government programs

Geoscience Australia released the Australian Exposure Information Platform in August 2018 to provide a self-service capability for emergency service providers requiring national exposure information. A total of 1966 individual reports were produced by 289 different users, which significantly reduced the burden on Geoscience Australia to produce customised reports.

Data content in the system was updated when resourcing permitted. Datasets updated in 2018–19 included the exposure to potential disaster of buildings, institutions, infrastructure, business, agricultural zones, and heritage.

1 Source: 2018–19 Corporate Plan.

Key performance indicator1

Target

2018–19 result

Availability of the national bushfire monitoring system, Sentinel Hotspots, between October and March each year

95%

100%

Sentinel Hotspots maintained availability during the 2018–19 fire season.

Respond to requests to activate the International Charter for Space and Major Disasters and Copernicus Emergency Management System within 72 hours

95%

100

Geoscience Australia managed activation of the Copernicus Emergenc Management Service on behalf of the Australian Government Crisis Coordinatio Centre for the Townsville floods and tropical cyclones Veronica and Trevor.

Respond to requests for geospatial information to the Australian Government Crisis Coordination Centre within 24 hours between October and March and within 48 hours during steady state periods

95%

100%

Three major tropical cyclone events required additional Geoscience Australia spatial support in February 2019: tropical cyclones Trevor in the Northern Territory, Veronica in Western Australia, and Oma in Queensland. Additional support was provided during the low-pressure rainfall event in North Queensland in February 2019 that led to the devastation of the North Queensland livestock industry.

National vertical obstacle products comply with Civil Aviation Regulations and are delivered monthly, or as specified, to Airservices Australia

100%

100%

All milestones for reporting and supplying updated vertical obstructions data were met.

Availability of the national catalogue of emergency management web services, EM-LINK

95%

100%

All links to datasets catalogued in EM-LINK were available during 2018–19.

1 Source: 2018–19 Corporate Plan.

Analysis of performance

The impact of disasters on Australia’s economy, environment and society can be significant and includes loss of life, loss of property and infrastructure, disruption to business and, disruption to people’s livelihoods. Cities and regional centres, and their supporting infrastructure, are expanding as populations grow. This increases Australia’s exposure and vulnerability to hazards.

Geoscience Australia provides disaster risk information to help Australians understand the consequences of hazard events. In 2018–19, Geoscience Australia released three types of national-scale hazard assessment: Australian Tsunami, National Seismic and Tropical Cyclone.

These assessments provided vital information to support government decision-making and assist emergency managers to better plan for and reduce the impact of hazards.

The delivery of tools such as EM-LINK and the Australian Exposure Information Platform helps decision-makers to understand who and what may be impacted in an area affected by a disaster. This helps to reduce the time taken to make decisions; gets information into the hands of stakeholders more efficiently; and informs planning to mitigate the effects of future disasters.

Geoscience Australia also provided other products and tools to support reducing disaster risk in 2018–19. They included:

  • tsunami hazard modelling guidelines to facilitate appropriate standards of rigour and improve national consistency in tsunami hazard modelling
  • an updated edition of Australian Rainfall and Runoff, a national guideline document that can be used for the estimation of design flood characteristics in Australia.

During 2018–19, Geoscience Australia contributed to a range of activities in the Asia-Pacific region and represented Australia at international science and technology forums to gather practical information and guidance to aid our partner countries in the Asia-Pacific region on disaster risk issues.

In collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Geoscience Australia:

  • delivered a technical disaster risk reduction program between the Australian and Papua New Guinea governments
  • supported the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction by strengthening relationships between Australian Government entities, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and its Asia Pacific Science Technology and Academia Advisory Group, and the secretariat for the Pacific Community
  • provided technical advice and support to the 2018–22 Australia Pacific Climate Partnership, including national-scale hazard maps for each of the 14 Pacific island states involved.

Geoscience Australia also provided ongoing real-time monitoring, analysis and advice on significant, and potentially tsunamigenic, earthquakes, to help safeguard Australian and Indian Ocean communities.