The federal government has announced the CSIRO will focus on natural hazards and disaster risk reduction by helping Australia better understand, respond and prepare for extreme events and emergency situations, such as bushfires, floods, cyclones and drought.

CSIRO will work with the current Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (BNHCRC), the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council, and government departments to help establish the new centre.

CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall says the recent devastating bushfire season placed a renewed focus on building resilience to better equip Australia for the future.

"The summer of 2019-20 was defined by consecutive natural events including bushfires, floods, drought and heat extremes which have touched every Australian," says Marshall.

"While much has already been done and achieved by all levels of government, response agencies and the community to increase Australia's resilience, there is more that science can deliver to predict and protect against disasters – we must deliver for Australia.

"The establishment of a new national disaster research centre is an important step forward," he says.

CSIRO was tasked in January 2020 by the Prime Minister to deliver an independent study recommending ways in which Australia can increase its climate and disaster resilience, supported by an Expert Advisory Panel chaired by Australia's chief scientist, Dr Alan Finkel.

"Climate change means the frequency and severity of these events will be a factor into the foreseeable future," says Marshall.

"Increasing climate variability and hazard exposure means we need to consider a truly national response.

"The establishment of the new centre will bring together world-leading science and technology capability, together with Australia's frontline responders to help our nation prepare for and confidently deal with what lies ahead," he says.

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