Aon research finds Australia is one of 13 countries at an increased threat level

Terrorism Risk Map

Australian risk managers have responded to the latest reports that the country is at an increased risk of a terrorism attack.

EnergyAustralia risk and insurance manager Brad Tymmons told StrategicRISK the firm was undertaking a “comprehensive review and refresh” of its crisis management plan in the wake of the Sydney Siege and with the consistent threat posed by international terrorist organisations.

“As much as it’s standard protocol and process to refresh crisis management every year, there’s more of an emphasis at our corporate location which is in the CBD [as a result of the attack],” Tymmons said.

EnergyAustralia’s crisis management team will soon be testing its revised terrorism response plan with a real-life scenario.

“Whilst we know terrorism is always a threat, the next step to that is looking at an actual scenario and testing your crisis management plan,” Tymmons said.

EnergyAustralia’s response comes off the back of Aon’s new 2015 Terrorism & Political Violence Risk Map which saw Australia join a list of 13 countries with an increased risk level.

Nine other Western countries were at an increased risk of a terrorism attack including Canada, France, Germany and Ireland.

Australia’s risk level still remains low, however. Last year its risk level was ’negligible’ according to the Aon report. This year it moved up one notch to ‘low’ on the five-point risk scale.

Not all risk managers have reassessed their crisis management plan as a direct consequence of the Sydney seige, however.

Eamonn Cunningham, chief risk officer at Scentre Group, which owns and operates Westfield shopping centres in Australia New Zealand, said: ”We dont have a knee jerk reaction as a result of tangible event - this is on a continuium.”

“We always take these types of threats seriously – not necessarily just the current perceived increase in this threat, but generally we have a regime which we deploy which keeps our various parts of the business constantly updated with the current threat level.

”Making an assessment not necessarly of just one event but what’s happening over a period of time, including particular events, gives you a better assessment of what’s going.”

South Asia has highest incidences of terrorism

Aon told StrategicRISK that the terrorism ratings were based on reported incidents and plots from the preceding 12 months and a threat analysis of current government threat warnings and Risk Advisory intelligence analysis.

“While the ratings are intended to be reflective of prevailing risk trends in 2015, they are not intended to be predictive of changes in global events or future threats,” Aon Risk Solutions head of crisis management, Asia, Julian Taylor said.

South Asia has the highest incidences of terrorism, according to the report, with 66% of countries rated as ‘high’ or ‘severe risk’ in the region.

But overall there has been an improvement in the risks of political violence at a country-by-country level, with 21 countries reported at a reduced risk today than one year ago.

“We have seen Bangladesh reduced from Severe to High and Bhutan lowered from Low to Negligible as incidents of political violence in both countries decreased over 2014,” Taylor said.

“The countries that have retained their risks do so for a number of reasons. For example Afghanistan and Pakistan still have active insurgencies which frequently target civilians and security services in high profile attacks.

“China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines have retained their terrorism scores due again, in part, to active insurgencies within the countries themselves and because their respective security officials have at some point expressed their concern to the open media about their nationals fighting with or alongside the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq.”