Jesuit Social Services welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.

The bushfires of 2019-20 were unprecedented and tragic. The bushfire crisis finds common roots with the current overlapping health and economic crises of the COVID-19 pandemic in our broken relationship with our environment and our failure to recognise that healthy societies and economies depend on the preservation, not exploitation, of our natural resources.

These crises starkly reveal the existing fissures and inequalities in our society, and those who are already marginalised suffer the most. This unequal distribution of the burdens is felt in the short and long terms, as pre-existing vulnerabilities are exacerbated, deepening poverty and widening inequality.

Our preparation for and response to future disasters and crises must therefore be grounded in principles of justice and equity.

In our brief submission, Jesuit Social Services:

  • Calls for urgent action to reduce emissions and invest in clean energy.
  • Foregrounds the impacts of climate-related disasters and crises on the most marginalised, highlighting the need for strategies to address the root drivers of vulnerability, engage and resource local communities, and support local community resilience over the long-term.
  • Highlights the slow-lethality of climate impacts affecting particularly Aboriginal communities in remote parts of Australia, and the need for resourcing to mitigate these risks to communities and support local adaptation.