Thursday, 16 May 2024

Natural Hazards Research Forum Closing Address

I am delighted to address the closing session of the Natural Hazards Research Forum today.

I trust you have had an insightful three days and met your aspiration for “big thinking, innovation and an eye to the future.”

I commend Natural Hazards Research Australia on its commitment to unlocking the power of research and sharing the knowledge within.

Shared knowledge not only develops our national research capacity, but enhances our capacity to plan for, respond to, and recover from natural hazards.

As has been demonstrated over the past few days, it is vital that such information is relevant and dynamic to the changing needs of our society.

Forward planning, rapid information dissemination, co-operation, and building resilience will help us respond to the growing intensity of natural disasters such as floods, fire, earthquakes, storms, and cyclones, thereby saving lives, saving communities, and reducing the impact on the built and natural environments.

As Governor, it is one of my privileges to invest with Australian Honours those in our emergency services, or in State or Local Government agencies, whose service has been outstanding or achievements exceptional.

While each recipient’s citation is uniqute, at the heart of each is a consistent commitment to going the extra mile, upskilling, and demonstrating leadership and collaboration with other responding agencies.

And as you all know, such responses aren’t confined within our state borders, with agencies ready to deploy anywhere in the Outback, to other States, or neighbouring countries, to tackle devastating bushfires or floods.

I am sure those who have contributed in such ways are among you today.


A few weeks ago in Brownhill Creek, I joined local Aboriginal people and others at an event at the 450-year-old Willa Willa Karra shelter tree.

Sitting there in the tranquil environment, I imagined what it would have been like just 200 years ago.

The mighty tree would have been there. The local Kaurna people would have been camping, hunting, and gathering nearby.

European settlement had an impact on the landscape, and the nature of European settlement itself has changed. The market gardens once nearby have given way to houses. A road goes through, walking tracks go past, people stay at the caravan park.

Today, the local Aboriginal people with other groups are maintaining the tree and its surrounds. Introduced weeds have been replaced by yam daisies.

At the event, a firesticks burning of the Kangaroo grass demonstrated cool burning as a part of land management.

This story is a microcosm. Even in such a small space, we need to adapt to evolving land uses, implement sustainable land management practices, have plans for prevention of flood or fire, and learn from experience as much as from experts.

I am heartened that, increasingly, knowledge held by the original custodians of the land, developed over more than 60,000 years, is being harnessed by agencies.

I was pleased that several First Nations supported projects were outlined during the forum alongside other equally important and relevant research themes.

By matching learnings from what has gone before with the latest research, we can better prepare, prevent and respond where necessary.

I hope you will all use the information gained from this forum to “Be Ahead of Ready.”

Coming events