How does a nation build resilience in a not-so-perfect storm?


With more extreme weather events happening more frequently, and at increased severity, Australia faces a future of more compounding extreme weather events in which one disaster feeds into another. So what do we need to do to build resilience and keep communities safe?


How does a nation build resilience in a not-so-perfect storm?

It could be described as the perfect storm. But only worse. 

Our island home has always been at the mercy of the elements. We’re used to seeing the aerial footage of ferocious and unpredictable bushfires that change direction at the whim of the wind, and houses that have been swallowed by floodwaters, as vehicles, wheelbarrows and household appliances float by. 

But now Australia faces a future with more compounding extreme weather events – meaning one natural disaster feeds into another. Climate change, population growth and urban sprawl are conspiring to land one-two punches on the continent, and it’s making it more important than ever for communities to prepare and build resilience.

What does the science tell us about compounding events?  

Research organisations like CSIRO are witnessing the impact of a changing climate in driving more events, more frequently. 

“Higher sea levels will drive more impactful storm surges, when they occur,” said CSIRO senior researcher Dr Kathy McInnes. “We also know that warming atmospheric air temperatures increase the moisture-holding capacity of the air, and that means when there is a storm event it will dump more rain.” 

This can not only expand the area onto which the rain falls, but the pace of growth in vegetation, which can become fuel for fires once dried out.  

Dr McInnes said this would lead to a “greater propensity” for natural disasters to coincide and create “compound events”. 

“It will also get hotter and drier as temperatures increase,” Dr McInnes said. 

“So if you have a very dry summer with heatwaves, you lose moisture in the soil, and that means the landscape is more primed for bushfires. 

“We had classic examples of that with the fires in 2019-2020, and then floods the next couple of years – communities weren’t even back in their houses after those fires, and they’re hit with floods.

"There are so many aspects to why extreme compounding events are going to have a greater impact - on our physical environment and on us as a society.” 

Suncorp Group’s resilience strategy is helping build a stronger nation  

In 2021, Suncorp Group launched its resilience strategy; a four-point plan for a more resilient Australia. It’s a plan that underpins decisions, investments and how the Group shows up in the community and for its customers.  

As the threat of compounding events increases, this strategy is more important than ever. 



#Key strategic initiatives:

1.       Investing in mitigation infrastructure that protects communities

The Bundaberg Flood Levee project is just one example of how Suncorp worked with all tiers of government to get funding for what has been dubbed one of Queensland’s most critical flood mitigation projects.   

2.       Advocating for government funding for households to make their homes more resilient

In March this year, Suncorp joined the Resilient Building Council and Federal Ministers in announcing a world first bushfire resilience rating app, which includes reductions for eligible customers. It followed the additional funding boost from the Federal Government to help Queensland homes in cyclone-prone areas stronger and safer.  

3.       Enhancing building codes to ensure new communities aren’t placed at risk 

Suncorp Group and Natural Hazards Research Australia (NHRA) released a paper in September 2023 to drive a national conversation about assisted relocations – giving communities at high-risk of being repeatedly impacted by extreme weather the opportunity to be relocated out of harm’s way.

4.       Lobbying for the removal of unfair and inefficient taxes and charges from insurance policies

In November last year, the NSW Government announced it would look at removing its Emergency Services Levy, saving customers an average of 12 per cent on their insurance bill. Suncorp Group continues to advocate for wider reform.  

These are just a few recent examples of how the Group is helping to build a more resilient Australia.  

Suncorp Group CEO Steve Johnson

As a Group, we’re advocating for stronger, practical resilience measures that better protect people and help them continue the lifestyle we enjoy in Australia, while also maintaining adequate and affordable home insurance.

Suncorp Group is committed to elevating the national resilience conversation at all levels of government, in collaboration with the private sector and community leaders 

Navigating a more resilient future against multiple extreme weather events is a long and complex initiative that many are working on collaboratively, including government, universities, scientists, developers, and the community. As a leading national insurer, Suncorp Group plays a significant role in driving national resilience conversations forward amongst these stakeholders. 

Suncorp Group continues to lead, influence and participate in broad, national conversations about long-term initiatives, including: 

  • reducing carbon footprint,  

  • changing the parameters on land development and building codes,  

  • relocating communities away from high-risk areas and  

  • implementing better early warning communications. 

Suncorp Group CEO Consumer Insurance Lisa Harrison said these conversations help build futures and protect what really matters.  

“We owe it to the thousands of flood, cyclone and fire victims across Australia to keep pursuing stronger building codes, better land-use planning, and permanent physical mitigation measures,” she said. 

Suncorp Group is committed to building a more resilient Queensland and Australia and will continue to implement and invest in its resilience strategy, partner with key stakeholders, and contribute to national conversations that positively contribute to a more resilient Australia. 

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