JavaScript is required

Decision making following an emergency

Sound decision making following an emergency improves longer term recovery outcomes.

Emergencies may require individuals and businesses to make a number of important, difficult decisions that they would not ordinarily make or would have not been considered before an incident. Evidence suggests that good early decisions improve longer term recovery outcomes and/ or bad early decisions inhibit longer term recovery outcomes.55

In this context, the role of government to facilitate the provision of relevant information to inform sound decision making is particularly important following an emergency. Information in relation to decisions associated with insurance claims and rights, government programs and other support, and dealing with employees, suppliers, clients, financers and other key partners is likely to be important. However, following an emergency, business owners may face stress and trauma associated with both business and personal impacts. This is particularly the case in regional and rural areas where the business owners are frequently affected twice over – as residents and then as business owners56.

Significant evidence exists that trauma post-disaster affects the ability to process information and make decisions through reduced capacity for reasoning, strategic decision making, prioritising, setting long term goals, and lateral thinking. Decisions are often reactive and emotional rather than informed by logical thinking57. In this context it may not be sufficient to simply provide information. Appropriate assistance may also be required to assist businesses and individuals understand choice, distil information, and help to ensure mechanisms for informed decision-making.

As the incidence of natural and economic shocks increases, it is important to note that this role of government in supporting sound business and community decision making can and should apply with the objective of generating greater community and industry preparedness and resilience, therefore either reducing or mitigating the need for government financial support in the event of future disasters, particularly any areas that are at higher risk of future disasters (e.g. more frequent bushfires).


55 Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience, 2018. Community Recovery Handbook 2. [Online] Available a [Accessed 05 May 2020].

56 Regional Australia Institute, 2013. From Disaster to Renewal: The Centrality of Business Recovery to Community Resilience. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 05 May 2020].

57 Gordon, Rob., 2013. Resilience & Recovery - How communities react to the impact of natural disaster & survive the stresses of recovery. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 05 May 2020].