Late twentieth century approaches to living with uncertainty: the National Drought Policy

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From the time that they arrived in Australia, Europeans regarded drought as an
aberration, a break with the ‘normal’ pattern of climate, and its onset was considered to be a natural disaster. Until 1989, governments responded accordingly through Commonwealth-State natural disaster relief arrangements which treated drought in a similar manner to other disasters such as cyclones, earthquakes or floods. With the removal of drought from these disaster arrangements in 1989, this view of drought as disaster was questioned in policy circles and a view emerged that drought was a normal part of the farmer’s operating environment and should be managed like any other business risk.
In 1992 the Commonwealth and State governments agreed on a national drought policy based on principles of self-reliance and risk management and a package of programs was put in place to support farmers as they improved their risk management skills. The policy also introduced the concept of ‘exceptional circumstances’ to cover events of such severity that they were beyond the scope of good risk management.
This chapter describes the development and evolution of Australia’s National Drought Policy and tracks the changes that have occurred over its first decade of operation and the policy challenges that continue to face policy makers working within its framework.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrom Disaster Response to Risk Management
Subtitle of host publicationAustralia's National Drought Policy
EditorsLinda Courtenay Botterill, Donald A Wilhite
Place of PublicationNetherlands
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781402031243
ISBN (Print)9781402031236
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


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