Recovery, rebuilding and resilience: How bushfire-affected businesses can emerge stronger

Regional towns at risk of losing residents in exodus after bushfires

Bushfire-devastated communities run the risk of losing residents to the capital cities, with economists warning that rebuilding efforts may not be enough to stop an exodus from fire-affected towns.

AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver said the bushfires had added to struggles already facing regional areas, including the demise of manufacturing and the extended drought, leaving at risk inland areas where entire industries have been devastated. “Some communities will rebuild in a way which reduces risk of getting burnt again in a world where the climate is getting worse, but I think for some of these communities they won’t have underlying resilience,” Dr Oliver said.

“A lot of people are probably thinking about moving [from the regions] to the cities….


Recovery, rebuilding and resilience: How bushfire-affected businesses can emerge stronger

Floods, earthquakes, cyclones, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, tsunamis and, of course, bushfires and droughts. There is not a place on the planet immune to the devastating impact of natural disasters.

International insurance giant Munich RE crunches the numbers each year for a harrowing snapshot into the tangible effects of natural emergencies. Since 1980, Munich RE has calculated the cost of 30 years of natural disasters globally to be nearly US$4.8 trillion ($7.1 trillion). It found in 2019 alone, 820 natural catastrophes worldwide caused overall losses of $US150 billion ($223 billion).

These figures are jaw-dropping on their own, but as those who bore witness to Australia’s horrific 2019/20 bushfire season can attest, the true cost extends beyond the financial to include the loss of life, homes, Australia’s natural biodiversity and to infrastructure and business. Given the indisputable impact climate change has on Earth’s natural systems these natural disasters, unfortunately, are likely to increase in frequency….


Resilience and out-of-process events


I had lunch with Gina. She was diagnosed 10 years ago at age 40 with breast cancer. Stage 3c, meaning advanced. Nineteen of the 25 lymph nodes the doctors found were malignant. She underwent surgery, six sessions of chemo, and 33 radiation sessions. Each chemo session left her sick and nauseous for a week. It left a metallic taste in her mouth, and she could not eat anything.

“What was the toughest part of all this?” I asked. “The day I found out!” she replied. “My heart fell to the floor. I cried. And cried some more. Then, it stopped there. I told myself. I already have cancer. I am not going to make it worse by feeling sorry for myself. I am going to do this. I am going to get myself well.” That is resilience…

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