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New ‘Bushfire Resilience’ rating app to help protect lives, properties

In the wake of the devastating Black Summer bushfires, the 2.2 million Australians who live in the highest bushfire risk areas have a new reason for hope thanks to a world-first project to increase bushfire resilience and protect lives and properties.

Developed by the Bushfire Building Council of Australia (BBCA), the Bushfire Resilience Star Rating system aims to help households adapt their homes to make them more resilient to bushfire.

The Star Rating System will translate decades of scientific research into a clearly communicated action plan for any home, old or new. It is focused on empowering people to make informed decisions about their bushfire risk, and putting practical, evidence-based tools for improving bushfire safety in their hands.

The project has been made possible thanks to $3 million in funding from the Australian Government, and industry support from BlueScope, IAG and NAB. The national launch of the Bushfire Resilience Star Rating app is planned for 2023 when the app will be available for free to all Australians.

BBCA CEO Kate Cotter said: “We estimate that at least 90 per cent of buildings in high bushfire risk areas are not resilient to bushfire, putting lives, homes and livelihoods at unacceptable risk. We have brought Australia’s leading bushfire scientists, engineers and industry together to give households a personalised, practical solution to adapt their homes.”

“Resilient homes build sustainable communities and economies – making our nation stronger, safer and better prepared for the inevitable next disaster. We are very excited to get to work on real action and incentives for households,” Cotter said.

The Star Rating system is voluntary and customised. It will provide individuals with a tailored appraisal of their property’s bushfire risk via a self-assessment app, and a list of practical things they can do to make it more bushfire resilient. Developed by Australia’s leading bushfire experts, it takes a best practice and holistic approach to bushfire resilience that covers building, landscaping, and ongoing maintenance.

The Star Rating system also has the potential to give insurers, banks and investors a framework for financing and rewarding bushfire resilience adaptations.

Funding is provided through the Australian Government’s National Recovery and Resilience Agency (NRRA), who support national projects targeted at reducing the risk and impact of natural disasters on Australian communities.

“The Bushfire Resilience Star Rating system is an important initiative to help Australians understand their disaster risk and what they can do to reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards,” Michael Crawford, Executive Director of Disaster Risk Management at NRAA said.

“We can’t prevent natural hazards from occurring so reducing our vulnerability to those hazards is central to limiting the impact they can cause. The Star Rating self-assessment app will help put knowledge in the hands of all Australians to guide their risk reduction decisions.” 

Former Victorian Emergency Management Commissioner and BBCA Expert Advisory Board Member, Craig Lapsley, said: “The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements has recommended a national approach and urgent action to inform and reward household resilience.” 

“After decades of inquiries and recommendations we are finally able to apply Australian science and technology to deliver practical action that will have global impact. This is a break- through moment and an exciting world-first project that will help protect lives and properties,” Lapsley said.