It’s time to reconsider what ‘recovery’ and ‘resilience’ mean for businesses and communities

by | Jun 23, 2022

It’s time to reconsider what ‘recovery’ and ‘resilience’ mean for businesses and communities

Australia is again enduring a crippling natural disaster. Floodwaters have rolled southwards down the East coast, swallowing entire towns and businesses. Apart from the lives lost, the mental stress of experiencing a disaster and disruption to so many lives, the infrastructure bill will undoubtedly run into billions.

And once again, we are surprised and unprepared. Apparently, every event is ‘unprecedented’ and therefore unexpected.

It is time to change that, and help SME owners and managers to prepare for the next, inevitable crisis.

That’s going to take some different thinking. If we consider natural disasters, we need to think a bit deeper about what we term ‘recovery’ and ‘resilience’. Rebuilding houses that will quickly flood again is not an efficient allocation of our precious national capital. Each time, we hear that “Australians are resilient and will come back”. Yes, we always do, but wouldn’t it be better if we didn’t have the make that journey “back” at all? Wouldn’t it be better if we were prepared, and acknowleged that these ‘unexpected’ events are not unexpected, but inevitable?

There are several stakeholders who can play a part in this change. I have always believed that the insurance industry would eventually step to the front of the queue in calling for real progress in de-carbonising our economy. They are now showing signs of this and have deemed some areas are uninsurable. So why do we still develop and rebuild into areas where no insurance is available?

Our political and community leaders now have to play catch-up after more than a decade of inaction on achieving carbon neutrality. We were told it was going to cost too much. Now, 97 cents of every dollar spent on disaster management is on recovery – fixing broken things. We need to turn that around and spend the 97 cents on prevention and mitigation.

That may involve some uncomfortable decisions.

This post first appeared on LinkedIn in April 2022.