National Review of Drought Policy


At the Primary Industries Ministerial Forum in Cairns on 29 February 2008, Ministers agreed that current approaches to drought and Exceptional Circumstances are no longer the most appropriate in the context of a changing climate. Drought policy needs to be improved to create an environment of self-reliance and preparedness, and encourage the adoption of appropriate climate change management practices.

Reviewing and improving drought policy in parallel with the development of climate change policies and programs will put Australian farmers in the best possible position to meet the challenges of a changing climate.

The National Review of Drought Policy

The Australian Government conducted a comprehensive national review of drought policy through three separate assessments. The review will support the development of policies to help better prepare farmers and rural communities for a changing climate.
The review includes:

  • an economic assessment of drought support measures by the Productivity Commission
  • an assessment by an expert panel of the social impacts of drought on farm families and rural communities
  • a climatic assessment by the Bureau of Meteorology and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) of the likely future climate patterns and the current Exceptional Circumstances standard of a one-in-20-to-25-year-event.

The WA Drought Pilot

From 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2012, the Australian Government, in partnership with the Western Australian Government, conducted a pilot of drought reform measures in parts of Western Australia. The pilot tested a package of new measures developed in response to the national review of drought policy.

In 2011, an independent advisory panel conducted a review of the pilot PDF [1.7 MB, 145 pages] Word [2.7 MB, 145 pages] to inform ongoing work on national drought policy reform.

At the conclusion of the pilot, the Australian Government Department of Agriculture along with other members of the Pilot of Drought Reform Measures Working Group compiled the ‘Pilot of Drought Reform Measures in Western Australia—Final Report’ PDF [1.6 MB, 59 pages] Word [682 KB, 59 pages]

For further information please contact Drought Policy.