Since the Indian Ocean tsunami on 26 December 2004, the Australian Government has focussed on tsunami risk around the country and the region, and the need to provide timely and effective warning services. In the May 2005 Budget a number of initiatives designed to enhance community safety were announced. These include measures to enhance the capabilities of the Australian Tsunami Alert System (ATAS):
- $68.9 million has been allocated over four years to progressively establish a more comprehensive Australian Tsunami Warning System (ATWS) to be managed by the Bureau , GA and EMA, with support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).
- The ATWS will be one of the first Indian Ocean regional warning systems, and will join the planned network of national systems, which collectively will form the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System (IOTWS). The ATWS will also facilitate warnings issued in the South-west Pacific through the Pacific Tsunami Warning System (PTWS).
- GA will enhance Australia's seismic monitoring capability in the region.
- The Bureau will enhance its tsunami modelling capabilities and sea level monitoring network, including expansion and upgrade of existing sea level stations and deployment of new Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART) buoys.
- The Bureau and GA will jointly operate and Australian Tsunami Warning Centre (ATWC). GA will update its seismic operations to 24/7, and the Bureau will utilise its existing 24/7 network of Regional Offices in Australia to disseminate tsunami warnings to the public and State/Territory emergency services.
- EMA coordinates Australian Government assistance to States/Territories, and will work with them to raise public awareness of tsunami risk. EMA will also implement a national tsunami education and training program and develop a national tsunami emergency management plan. These activities will involve an extensive consultative process with all relevant State/Territory agencies and a wide range of community, business, volunteer, education, and media stakeholders.
- AusAID will coordinate and support technical assistance programs to help build the capacity of the South-west Pacific and Indian Oceans to receive, understand and respond to tsunami warnings.
Further information can be obtained from the following websites: