News from the CRC
Looking back can prevent future flood deaths
CRC research is informing community ﬂood warning campaigns, emergency services training and national policy initiatives, with the Analysis of building losses and human fatalities from natural hazards study led by Dr Katharine Haynes at Risk Frontiers, Macquarie University, investigating the circumstances of all flood fatalities in Australia from 1900 to 2015.
The study explored the socio-demographic and environmental factors surrounding the 1859 flood fatalities over 115 years, ﬁnding distinct trends in relation to gender, age, activity and the circumstances of the death. These trends were analysed in the context of changes to emergency management policy and practice over time.
The NSW State Emergency Service has used the ﬁndings of the research for its FloodSafe community campaigns and training, while the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services has used it to inform its If it’s Flooded, Forget it campaign.
The 2017 campaign by the NSW State Emergency Service featured a series of videos, with real people recounting their experiences of attempting to drive through floodwater, the consequences of their actions, and why no one should ever drive through floodwaters. Each video was backed by data from the research showing who is most at risk during a flood.
Andrew Richards, Manager of Community Engagement at the NSW State Emergency Service, says it was vital that the campaign was backed by research.
“As a consequence of risky behaviour, flood fatalities and rescues are a constant issue for emergency services. We are trying to increase public safety, to educate people to make the safe choice, and we think that the best way to achieve this is by highlighting true stories about what has happened to people when they have tried to drive through ﬂoodwaters,” Andrew says.
“The research from the CRC was key as it showed to us where we needed to focus our safety efforts.
“Thanks to the research we were able to target effective audiences that are prone to driving into ﬂoodwater, as well as providing statistics and evidence to back up our campaigns,” he says.
The research has also made its mark on a national level, contributing signiﬁcantly to investigations into preventing ﬂood fatalities by the Prevention of Flood Related Fatalities Working Group of the Community Engagement Sub-committee of the Australia–New Zealand Emergency Management Committee.