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Proposals for Reform of and Comparison of Canadian and Australian Models of Emergency Response

The Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 reform is one of the newly proposed reforms to improve disaster recovery. The Act has been reformed as part of the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act, which is applicable from 2022-2026. The Act provides pathways for states, tribes, localities, and territories to respond more proactively to fires, storms, and floods. Conversely, both reforms recognize the common responsibility for disaster recovery and response and aim to reduce the complexities associated with Federal Emergency Management Agency (Sillman, par. 1). DRRA has also undergone a reform in the 117th congress. The Bill establishes a Long-Term Disaster Recovery Fund to fund the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program (Congres.Gov, par. 3). The Bill also aims to enhance data sharing regarding disasters by requiring the Department of Housing and Urban Development to share data with other additional agencies on disaster benefits.

Additionally, in 2020 the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities replaced the Pre-Disaster Management grant program. The BRICK program aims at providing funds to territories, states, tribal authorities, and localities for disaster management projects (Sillman, par. 11). The issuance of such funds is dependent on six major guidelines. The guidelines include promoting partnerships, maintaining flexibility, enabling large projects, enabling and encouraging innovation, enhancing capacity-building to promote community development and providing consistency. Such reforms could effectively apply to Canada and Australia’s disaster management models.

Canada employs a Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Emergency Management guided by an Emergency Management Framework (Public Safety Canada, par. 4). The framework includes provisions on the federal government’s responsibilities in response to emergency disaster situations alongside other partners such as non-governmental organizations, communities, and tribal groups. Therefore, Territorial and Provincial governments manage emergencies within their jurisdictions. Local governments manage the situations at their respective levels and jurisdictions as the first responders to emergencies and disasters (Public Safety Canada, par.5). However, the federal government may help local governments with the help they need in managing disasters. The federal government is also involved in leadership at international and national levels related to management responsibilities of emergencies in its exclusive lands and fields of jurisdiction on properties under federal responsibility. Moreover, the evolution of the guideline is consistent with the international Disaster Risk Reduction concept and thus works in line with the UN’s efforts to reduce and analyze causal factors.

Similarly, the Australian disaster management model involves a guide that encompasses the country’s critical dimensions of managing emergencies and disasters. Therefore, the guide involves disaster prevention, response, recovery, and preparedness. Due to localized networks and knowledge, local-level management is also acknowledged as the first-line disaster management approach (Queensland Government, par. 8). State groups and districts are also responsible for managing disasters within their jurisdictions (Queensaland Government, par. 8). However, the national government helps both local and state or districts whenever help in disaster management is needed. Notably, the model also engages an all-hazards approach where the technique used to manage one hazard could be equally applicable to other hazards.

Analysis and Rationale

The National Response Plan has been a guide established to provide a framework for responding to all disasters. The US Department of Homeland Security renamed the NRP the National Response Framework. However, even if the NRF is considered an improvement of the NRP, the NRF still holds a pending capacity to fully address the challenges and problems that the NRP addresses. Usually, the NRF provides a guide for responding to all potential disasters (FEMA, par. 1). The NRF is used to prepare for, respond to, prevent, and recover from major disasters, terror attacks, and other emergencies.  Since the DRRA reform seeks to eliminate the complexities associated with FEMA as the primary player in disaster management, the reforms on the Act could similarly eliminate the existing challenges in the current Canadian and Australian models. Similarly, FEMA reforms could apply to the Canadian and Australian model in enhancing data sharing between various disaster management agencies, governments and non-governmental organizations to enhance disaster recovery processes. Based on the BRICK reform, Canadian and Australian disaster management models could also focus on engaging the six principles of the reform to foster the availability of funds and capacity-building of various stakeholders involved in disaster management in both countries.

Since the NRF is in the improvised version of the NRP with an increased capacity to manage disasters, Canada and Australia could also modify their disaster management models to align with the NRF framework by engaging NRF’s essential support functions such as communication, transportation, search and rescue and public security and safety.

The international human rights law is a composition of international human rights treaties and establishes obligations by which states are bound to adhere (United Nations, par. 3). Therefore, governments establish domestic legislation and measures compatible with the treaties’ duties and obligations through ratification of the treaties (United Nations, par. 4). Consequently, international legal procedures become applicable where domestic legal procedures fail to address human rights abuses (United Nations, par. 4). Therefore, the Canadian and Australian models could also recognize human rights abuse as part of their emergency response agendas. Conversely, international law may apply in instances of human rights abuse in both countries where domestic law is not a viable option to suppress the crisis.

Insurance companies significantly enhance resilience after disastrous events by promoting recovery and offering investment incentives to mitigate hazards (Kousky, par. 1). Generally, insurance companies ensure business continuity after a disaster and in the recovery process. Therefore, the federal government’s responsibility in both Canadian and Australian disaster management models would involve developing initiatives and strategies to ensure disaster insurers engage favourable disaster risk financing alongside partnering with the private sector to ensure financial protection of private companies from disastrous events. Similarly, regarding federalism, private companies can keep their employees, continue their activities and meet their customers’ needs after disastrous events. Regarding federalism, Canadian and Australian governments should continuously streamline disaster management in their respective countries but must act within its limits to avoid overstepping the role of state governments in managing domestic disasters.

Synthesis of effects of policy

Several points could be synthesized from disaster management policy. First, disaster management policy ensures continuous improvement in disaster management through policy reforms. For instance, the DRRA was reformed in 2021 to tackle the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to disaster (Congress.Gov, 1). Second, with federal governments as the primary regulators of disaster management legislation, legislations demonstrate the effectiveness of a government in disaster management. For instance, an Act’s design demonstrates the government’s support beside leadership (Sillman, par. 3) in emergencies. Fourth, in the current era of federalism, federal and state government relationships are the behaviour and partisanship of executives at national and state levels (Downey et al., par. 10). Therefore, disaster management policy also ensures a shared responsibility between local, federal, and state governments while setting boundaries for each government’s role in disaster management. For instance, the local authorities are recognized as the first responders to emergency situations but can access the federal governments help when needed (Public Safety Canada, par. 4). Fifth, however, based on federalism, the federal government’s involvement in managing domestic catastrophic events remains critical. Consequently, stakeholders in disaster management must act to promote the federal government’s achievement of its disaster management objectives.

Works Cited

Congress.Gov. “S.2471 – 117th Congress (2021-2022): Reforming Disaster Recovery Act.” | Library of Congress, 15 Dec. 2021, Accessed 12 Apr. 2022.

Downey, Davia Cox, and William M. Myers. “Federalism, intergovernmental relationships, and emergency response: A comparison of Australia and the United States.” The American Review of Public Administration 50.6-7 (2020): 526-535.

FEMA. “National Response Framework.” |, 2021, Accessed 8 Apr. 2022.

Kousky, Carolyn. “The role of natural disaster insurance in recovery and risk reduction.” Annual Review of Resource Economics 11 (2019): 399-418.

Public Safety Canada. “Emergency Management Strategy for Canada: Toward a Resilient 2030.” Public Safety Canada / Sécurité Publique Canada, 25 Jan. 2019, Accessed 8 Apr. 2022.

Queensland Government. “Prevention Preparedness, Response and Recovery Disaster Management Guideline.”, 2022, Accessed 8 Apr. 2022.

Sillman, A. “A New Approach to Disaster Relief Funding? The Disaster Recovery Reform Act’s Promise for Pre-Disaster Mitigation.” Harvard Law School, 28 Jan. 2021, Accessed 8 Apr. 2022.

United Nations. “International Human Rights Law.” OHCHR, 2022, Accessed 8 Apr. 2022.


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