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2023-24 Higher Risk Weather Season

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The Higher Risk Weather Season Media Briefing

While severe weather can occur at any time, October to April is typically a peak time for severe storms, cyclones, fires and heatwaves. This is known as the Higher Risk Weather Season (HRWS).

On Friday 22 September 2023 the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) briefed the media on the Higher Risk Weather Season Outlook.


Seasonal Outlook 2023 – 2024

El Niño and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole are both underway and are expected to continue through to at least late spring.

These climate drivers strengthen the likelihood of the warm and dry conditions forecast for large parts of Australia over spring and summer.

Both El Niño and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) tend to draw rain away from Australia. Over spring, their combined impact can increase the chance of below average rainfall in widespread areas and higher temperatures across the southern two-thirds of the country.

Due to higher than usual levels of rainfall over the past 18 months, increased fuel load, and drier weather anticipated for the months ahead, we must prepare for the elevated risk of grass and bushfires during the HRWS, as well as possible heatwave conditions.

The HRWS also means an increased likelihood of severe storms and cyclones.

View or download the Bureau of Meteorology's High Risk Weather Season Outlook presentation (from September 2023).


Preparing for the Higher Risk Weather Season

Collective responsibility

It is the responsibility of every state and territory government to prepare for, and respond to, the threats that emerge as we enter the HRWS.

The Australian Government, through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), works with state and territory governments to understand ongoing situations and what support we may be able to offer if they request our assistance.

We stand ready to support the capabilities of state and territory governments in anticipation of the HRWS and a nationally significant crisis.

Now is also a critical time for residents to take individual action to prepare for bushfires and heatwaves.


The Australian Government’s role

NEMA plays a vital national leadership role in ensuring Australia is prepared for the higher risk weather season.

It supports the state and territory governments that are responsible for emergency preparedness, response and recovery within their jurisdictions by coordinating requests for Australian Government assistance and maintaining national situational awareness.

The Higher Risk Weather Season National Preparedness Summit

The inaugural Higher Risk Weather Season National Preparedness Summit on 25-26 September 2023 brings together delegates from across governments, industry and the not for profit (NFP) sector with responsibility for response and recovery across multiple hazards, ensuring integrated preparedness across the entire emergency management continuum.

Resource and capability support

The Australian Government is supporting the leasing and positioning of a national fleet of highly specialised firefighting aircraft for use by state and territory governments through the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC), and the lease of another National Large Air Tanker.

A National Emergency Management Stockpile includes key resources such as emergency shelter, water and electricity, to enable states and territories to quickly access these resources if needed. NEMA is currently undertaking procurement activities with the aim to bring some assets and resources online during the HRWS.

A simplified Australian Fire Danger Rating System is being used nationally so that no matter where someone is, they understand the fire risk and what action they need to take.

NEMA is also managing the Disaster Relief Australia (DRA) Grant Agreement to lay the foundations to expand its capacity to support disasters. DRA’s veteran-led operating model provides a trained, on the ground force during recovery and relief efforts.

Operational and information sharing support

The Australian Government’s National Situation Room (NSR) and the National Joint Common Operating Picture enable collaboration amongst federal, state and territory government agencies and non-government organisations during a crisis.


Financial Assistance

Joint financial assistance through the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements

Through the Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements, the Australian Government can share the significant cost of natural disasters with all states and territories.

Australian Government financial assistance

During the immediate recovery of a nationally significant event, the Australian Government has the capability to provide direct financial assistance for those severely impacted through the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance.

  • Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment - a one-off payment of $1000 per eligible adult and $400 per eligible child.
    • For people who have suffered a significant loss as a result of natural disasters, including a severely damaged or destroyed home or a significant injury.
  • Disaster Recovery Allowance – up to thirteen (13) weeks of federal income support.
    • For eligible employees or sole traders who work or live in a declared Local Government Area and have experience a loss of income as a direct result of a major disaster.


Investing in Natural Hazard Risk Reduction And Preparedness

Disaster Ready Fund

Through the Australian Government’s Disaster Ready Fund, we have committed nearly $400 million this year (through Commonwealth and state and territory co-investment) in risk reduction projects around Australia, such as flood levees, cyclone shelters, bushfire detection technology and evacuation centres.

Of this, $94 million is being co-investing this year in bushfire mitigation and preparedness with state and territory governments.

Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants

Supported by the National Emergency Management Agency, the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants Program is helping communities address priorities and activities for recovery and resilience after the 2019-20 bushfires.

524 projects have been successful under this program, with a total value of more than $390 million. A few of these projects include:


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