The ‘build back better’ (BBB) concept signals an opportunity to decrease the vulnerability of communities to future disasters during post-disaster reconstruction and recovery. The 2009 Victorian bushfires in Australia serve as a case study for this assessment of the application of core BBB principles and their outcomes. The results show that several BBB measures were successfully implemented in Victoria and are relevant for any post-disaster reconstruction effort. The BBB initiatives taken in Victoria include: land-use planning determined by hazard risk-based zoning; enforcement of structural design improvements; facilitated permit procedures; regular consultations with stakeholders; and programmes conducted for social and economic recovery. Lessons from the Victorian recovery urge the avoidance of construction in high-risk zones; fairness and representativeness in community consultations; adequate support for economic recovery; the advance establishment of recovery frameworks; and empowerment of local councils.
Keywords: build back better, post-disaster reconstruction, recovery, risk reduction,
Victorian bushfires, vulnerability