Reforms needed to improve housing resilience in Australia

Reforms needed to improve housing resilience in Australia | Insurance Business

Reforms needed to improve housing resilience in Australia

The Building Stronger Homes Roundtable – established by the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) and Master Builders Australia (MBA) – is calling for reforms to how codes, standards, and land use planning systems promote housing resilience in Australia.

The Building Stronger Homes Roundtable aims to help the insurance and building industries to discuss policy changes that make buildings more resilient.

The third roundtable, which took place at the New South Wales (NSW) Parliament House in Sydney, had the theme “New Builds, Codes, Standards, and Land Use Planning” – with Hon Kevin Anderson, NSW Minister for Better Regulation, addressing the event. Representatives from the state and federal government; Standard Australia; the Australian Building Codes Board; and property, real estate, and architecture industries also attended the event.

ICA chief executive officer Andrew Hall said Australia can improve resilience by increasing collaboration among the industry, government, and the community.

“While new homes need to be built to be more resilient, it is imperative they remain affordable and that new homeowners are able to enter the market,” Hall said. “At present, there is no system in place in Australia to assess and record the level of resilience in a building, making it difficult for insurers to adjust premiums accordingly.”

The representatives recommended:

  • Simpler and cost-effective access to standards for builders and inspectors to support compliance;
  • Land use planning reforms that better incorporate the experience and insights of the insurance and building industries in the aftermath of natural disasters;
  • Increased government  incentives to invest in resilience measures when building new homes to improve their durability;
  • Development of resilience information tools that assist the industry and consumers in building more resilient homes; and
  • Establishment of an information-sharing hub between the government and the industry to share risk information, land planning data, and building experience.

MBA CEO Denita Wawn highlighted the insurance and building industries' agreement to share data and information to understand building resilience needs.

“Data can better support informed decision making by government, particularly in relation to land use planning,” Wawn said. “We would like to see the building industry and the insurance industry formally included as part of the consultation processes of the Australian Building Codes Board and Standards Australia to improve information sharing and provide practical industry insights in relation to future reforms.”

The Building Stronger Homes Roundtable will hold its final meeting in June 2021.