IAG, Rhelm launch report on planned relocation to protect communities from severe floods, bushfires

Organizations seek to give guidance to governments on planned relocation

IAG, Rhelm launch report on planned relocation to protect communities from severe floods, bushfires

Insurance News


IAG and Rhelm have jointly released a research report titled "Planned Relocation - Protecting Our Communities," which examines how planned relocation can protect individuals and communities from severe floods and bushfires.

The report was commissioned by IAG, Australia and New Zealand's largest general insurer, to assist governments and communities in determining when planned relocation is a viable option. The report comes on the back of numerous extreme weather events that have devastated communities and resulted in the loss of multiple lives.

Planned relocation entails moving homes, and sometimes communities, from high-risk areas where the risk to life and property is too great.

The report examines the factors that facilitate or hinder planned relocation in Australia, the role that communities play in decision-making, and offers suggestions on how governments can most effectively implement a planned relocation scheme.

Additionally, the report looks at the feasibility of planned relocation in high flood-risk areas to demonstrate when planned relocation may be an economically feasible option for communities to consider.

Key recommendations

The new report presents seven key recommendations for planned relocation during natural hazard events:

  1. Develop national guidance on planned relocation
  2. Prioritise and fund integration support measures for relocated residents
  3. Planned relocation should be coordinated by state and territory government agencies while ensuring local government remains a key stakeholder
  4. Responsible agencies should proactively identify high-risk locations and develop community adaptation plans before a natural hazard event occurs
  5. Federal and state governments should formalize funding arrangements
  6. Establish legislative frameworks for accelerated approvals for planned relocation
  7. Review the outcomes of large-scale implementations of planned relocation (e.g. NSW and Queensland Resilient Homes Funds) to inform the development and refinement of national guidance and frameworks

"We know relocation is not simple, we all have strong emotions and connections to where we live,” said Nick Hawkins, managing director and CEO of IAG. “But finding the right location where there is no or minimal disaster risk, could save lives, property and result in more affordable insurance.

“Our intent with this report was to provide a framework and recommendations to help governments and communities assess planned relocation as an option to protect lives into the future before another disaster strikes.

“Our teams have been on the ground during some of the worst natural disasters seen across Australia and New Zealand, helping people to recover and begin rebuilding their lives. We’ve advocated for greater investment in mitigation to help protect communities for more than a decade and we’ve recently seen solid progress at a federal and state government level.

“The past few years of extreme bushfires and floods has also shown us that in some cases, options such as planned relocation should be considered due to the threat to lives and property,” Hawkins said. “This is a difficult discussion for communities to have. In many cases, families have lived in these homes and communities for multiple generations, and supporting them must be at the heart of this process.”

Rhelm director Rhys Thomson said: “With the impacts of floods and bushfires in recent years, we have seen increased consideration and community support for planned relocation for risk mitigation. However, the implementation of planned relocation can be challenging, both for governments and the community. Our report is intended to support the discussion on planned relocation, highlighting the challenges and opportunities such schemes encounter and providing recommendations for planning and implementation.”

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