Key terminology

Key Terminology

Adaptation: Adjustments that aim to reduce the vulnerability of communities to the negative impacts of natural disasters.

Disaster: A serious disruption to community life which threatens or causes death or injury and/or damage to property which is beyond the day to day capacity of the statutory authorities. It therefore requires special mobilisation and organisation of resources other than those normally available to those authorities.

Emergency management: Involves the plans, structures and arrangements which are established to bring together the normal endeavours of government, voluntary and private agencies in a comprehensive and coordinated way to deal with the whole spectrum of emergency needs including prevention, response and recovery.

Emergency service: An agency responsible for the protection and preservation of life and property from harm resulting from incidents and emergencies.

Hazard: A source of potential harm or a situation with a potential to cause harm to people or damage to property or the environment.

Mitigation: Measures taken in advance of a disaster aimed at decreasing or eliminating its impact on society and environment.

Natural Disaster: A natural disaster is a serious disruption to a community or region caused by the impact of a naturally occurring rapid onset event that threatens or causes death, injury or damage to property or the environment and which requires significant and coordinated multi-agency and community response. Such serious disruption can be caused by bushfire, earthquake, flood, storm, cyclone, storm surge, landslide, tsunami, meteorite strike, or tornado.

Preparedness: Measures to ensure that, should an emergency occur, communities, resources and services are capable of coping with the effects; the state of being prepared.

Prevention: Measures to eliminate or reduce the incidence or severity of emergencies.

Recovery: The coordinated process of supporting emergency-affected communities in reconstruction of the physical infrastructure and restoration of emotional, social, economic and physical wellbeing.

Resilience: Resilience is the ability of a system, community or society exposed to hazards to resist, absorb, accommodate and recover from the effects of a hazard in a timely and efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of its essential basic structures and functions.

Response: Actions taken in anticipation of, during, and immediately after an emergency to ensure that its effects are minimised, and that people affected are given immediate relief and support.

Risk: The likelihood of harmful consequences arising from the interaction of hazards, communities and the environment.

Vulnerable infrastructure: Poorly constructed buildings and infrastructure, including roads and other transportation channels, industrial and commercial developments, and certain types of housing located in close proximity to sources of hazards.

Source: Adapted from National Strategy for Disaster Resilience.