Australian Climate Service review delivers streamlined information to support Australians during disasters and climate change

Dept of Climate Change, Energy, Environment & Water

Senator The Hon Murray Watt, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Minister for Emergency Management, Senator for Queensland

Senator The Hon Jenny McAllister, Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Senator for New South Wales

Australia will be more disaster and climate ready – with the Albanese Government to implement changes from the final report of the Independent Review of the Australian Climate Service (ACS) released today.

The Albanese Government has welcomed the report and is acting to implement the review’s recommendation to split the ACS’s short-term emergency response and longer-term strategic climate functions.

The Government will immediately transfer emergency management support functions from the ACS to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), to ensure a smooth transfer ahead of the next Higher-Risk Weather Season.

The recommendation will give Australia’s emergency response and recovery authorities access to a wider range of data, information, and expertise to support timely decision-making. These changes will ensure the ACS can focus on developing the tools and information communities, business and all levels of government need to adapt and prepare for medium- and long-term climate impacts.

The ACS was established by former Environment Minister, Sussan Ley, in July 2021. It was tasked with collecting and producing information to assist in responding to natural disasters and climate risks. The Review Panel’s report highlights how the compromises made in the agency’s design meant that, despite the best efforts of staff, it was not capable of meeting the urgent growing need for climate services.

As Australia’s climate changes, our communities, households, and businesses need high quality climate information to understand, prepare and respond to risks and the impacts of more extreme weather.

The panel’s recommendations include:

  • Transferring responsibility for emergency management support functions from the ACS to NEMA.
  • Ensuring a future ACS is service-oriented with a focus on providing practical products and services to all Australians.
  • Establishing a portal for climate products and services that builds over time and provides up-to-date climate information that is easy to understand.

Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt welcomed recommendations that give NEMA the flexibility to choose information and data sources best suited to a particular situation.

“Bringing these capabilities in-house at NEMA is yet another way the Albanese Government is ensuring the Commonwealth is ready and able to assist communities preparing for natural disasters,” Minister Watt said.

“Practically, the transfer of these functions to NEMA will mean the agency is better placed and better equipped to assist timely decision-making during emergencies and throughout recovery. It will enhance NEMA’s analytical capability and near-real time situational awareness, and support Australia’s National Situation Room, in rapidly evolving situations.

“For example, if there was a flood in the Kimberley, we could seamlessly access flood modelling, or quickly start assessing the potential supply chain impacts of a large-scale disaster.”

Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy Jenny McAllister said the Albanese Government is committed to supporting communities in responding to extreme weather events, while also investing in climate science and information services.

“The Australian Climate Service is a climate services agency designed by a Coalition government that never truly accepted climate science. Australia has some of the world’s best climate scientists and policy experts. They deserve better.

“This review was commissioned as part of the Albanese Government’s commitment to investment in climate services and science. Good climate information will help Australians make the best decisions we can as our climate changes.”

“The Albanese Government is delivering real action to limit the impacts of climate change and at the same time ensuring communities and businesses have the tools and data needed to adapt.”

Assistant Minister McAllister has issued an interim Statement of Expectations to the ACS to ensure key climate and natural hazard information work continues.

The Government is working through the balance of the review’s recommendations and will respond in late 2024. The panel’s final report and recommendations are available at the Independent Review of the Australian Climate Service page.

The ACS brings together information and expertise of the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO, ABS and Geoscience Australia. Under changes the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) will be able to use data and information from these entities to access weather patterns and unfolding events more flexibly.

The Australian Climate Service will also continue supporting the NEMA-led Hazards Insurance Partnership.

/Public Release. View in full here.