NERAG provides a method to assess emergency-related risks from all hazards and is principally concerned with enabling the consistent application of emergency-related risk assessment practices across Australia. Although NERAG focuses primarily on risk assessment rather than the broader practice of risk management, its outputs are intended to help prioritise risk mitigation activities.
NERAG is not intended to address all aspects of the risk management framework or processes outlined in AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009. Such activities are described within AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 and its associated handbooks. However, because NERAG focuses on the assessment of risks relating to emergency events, it directs the management of emergency-related risks in line with international standards for risk management.
NERAG users are encouraged to obtain a copy of AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 (or the subsequent latest version) and relevant supporting handbooks for use in partnership with this document.
NERAG’s aim is to provide a risk assessment method that:
- can be used for assessing emergency-related risks at a range of scales
- examines historical and/or modelled (synthetic/scenario) emergency events across a range of likelihood and consequence levels
- identifies current risk levels under existing controls and can be used to assess effectiveness of proposed treatments (which may include new controls or control improvements)
- allows the use of various forms of evidence to inform the understanding and assessment of risks, including quantitative data, expert evidence and stakeholder consultation
- allows risk evaluation at varying levels of confidence
- provides outputs that allow for risks to be prioritised, and suggests either treatment planning, further investigation, or ongoing monitoring and review for each risk.
NERAG is not intended to support or replace operational emergency-related risk assessment tools. That is, it is not intended that the NERAG method be used to assess risk to emergency personnel who are, for example, undertaking emergency response duties.
NERAG recognises that specific risk assessment techniques have been developed for detailed analysis of individual hazards. As such, NERAG is not intended to replace such hazard-specific risk management processes. However, a NERAG risk assessment does present a comparative, all-hazards understanding of emergency-related risks to a community.
Losses to communities can result from exposure to single or multiple hazards. For any emergency event, the initial hazard may lead to secondary effects, resulting in impacts to communities from multiple hazards. For example, a tropical cyclone brings:
- extreme winds and heavy rainfall (caused by the initial hazard)
- consequential hazards such as flooding, landslide and mosquito-borne disease following the cyclone (consequences resulting from the emergency event).
The emergency event(s) to be considered is determined by the context of the risk assessment, which provides a common understanding of the scope and purpose of the risk assessment project or program. For example, two risk assessments analysing a tropical cyclone may view the event differently when based on differences in their context:
- an assessment of emergency risk related to a flood event would view rainfall associated with the cyclone as the emergency event, with wind damage and mosquito-borne disease as secondary consequences
- a human disease risk assessment of the same event would see the mosquito-borne disease as the emergency event, with the cyclone, rainfall and flooding as sources of risk that contribute to the disease occurring.
Establishing the context for the risk assessment is extremely important and will ultimately affect the direction the risk assessment takes, as demonstrated in the above examples. NERAG addresses these complexities and the all-hazards approach is consistent with contemporary emergency management policy and practice.
NERAG focuses on risk assessment that needs to be integrated into an appropriate governance framework. Consistent with AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009, NERAG describes the importance of:
- integrating with an established risk management framework or creating a new one
- describing the context for the risk assessment, including the risk criteria
- communicating and consulting both during and after the risk assessment process
- treating risks, which involves developing and selecting risk reduction options.
Risk assessment outcomes are not static; they need to be periodically updated to remain current. Accordingly, the monitoring and review process is also described.