Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements

Yesterday, Mr Nigel Bell, a respected Institute member and practising architect, gave evidence to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements. Nigel participated in a panel examining the extent to which natural hazard risk is incorporated into decisions about where people live, how land is used and the types of buildings that are constructed.

Appearing alongside representatives from the Planning Institute, Bushfire Building Council and Property Council of Australia, Nigel outlined key recommendations for building design in fire-prone areas. We are pleased to say that the recommendations made by the Institute in our earlier submission to the Royal Commission have been thoughtfully considered.

Nigel’s appearance has been picked up widely in the media including The Guardian and The Australian.

During the hearing the Royal Commission were interested to hear more from Nigel on the potential use of private bushfire shelters and community refuges as places of last resort; the use of water spray systems in domestic settings; and the need for enhanced data collection and analysis to allow bushfire risk to be appropriately quantified and identify mitigation actions.

This appearance at the Royal Commission by Nigel Bell is a fantastic example of how the advocacy and policy engagement of the Institute with the Australian Government can be enhanced and supported through the professional expertise of members. We’d like to say thank you to Nigel for representing the views of architects on this important issue. Nigel is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects and is the principle of ECOdesign Architects + Consultants. He played a key role in the response of the Institute to the 2019-20 Bushfire season, including the development of online education materials and professional development training to prepare and support architects to contribute successfully to disaster recovery and “Build Back Better”. He is also the Institute representative to Standards Australia regarding bushfire issues.

The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements was established in response to the extreme bushfire season over the last 12 months. The Commission will examine coordination, preparedness for, response to and recovery from the terrible fires, as well as ways to improve resilience, adapt to the changing climate and mitigate the impact of natural disasters, before delivering a final report in August 2020.

Earlier this year, in our written response to the Royal Commission, the Institute provided key lessons from the bushfire season. Laying out 24 recommendations, our aim was to highlight the critical role of built environment professionals in improving the resilience and adaptation of Australian society to changing climatic conditions.

Find out more and read the full submission to the Royal Commission.

Revisit the response of the Institute to the 2019-20 bushfire season on our dedicated webpage.