News from the CRC


The SES getting ready to rescue a driver stuck on a flooded bridge. Photo: Davina Pearson
The SES getting ready to rescue a driver stuck on a flooded bridge. Photo: Davina Pearson
Release date
30 Jan 2017
More information:
Andrew Richards
End User Rep

Research informs flood safe campaign

The NSW State Emergency Service have used flood research by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC to back their latest flood safety campaign, launched today on social media.

The campaign features a series of videos, with real people recounting their experiences of trying to drive through floodwater, what happened to them, the consequences of their actions, and why no one should ever drive through floodwaters. Each video is backed by data showing what activity they were undertaking when they were killed and who is most at risk (i.e. children, young males, passengers in a vehicle, 4WD’ers).

Andrew Richards, State Manager of Community Engagement at NSW SES, said 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,” he said.

“The videos show important facts about the most at-risk groups, such as children and young adult passengers in cars, as well as 4WD’ers. The research from the CRC was key here as it showed to us where we needed to focus our safety efforts.”

“The research showed us that fatalities involving a 4WD have dramatically increased in the last 15 years – people think that they are invincible if they are in a 4WD, but the reality is far from that. We really want to reach this group of people in the hope that the next time they come across a flooded road, they will make the safest decision,” Mr Richards said.

The research used in the NSW SES campaign is from the CRC project An analysis of building losses and human fatalities, undertaken by Risk Frontiers at Macquarie University. The study explored the socio-demographic and environmental factors surrounding the 1,859 flood fatalities in Australia over a 115-year period, and found 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 project has highlighted the significant number of fatalities that have occurred as a consequence of flooding compared to other natural hazards, particularly as a result of driving through floodwater.

Sonya's story

Tom's story

Peter's story

More videos for the NSW SES campaign can be viewed as they are released at

The findings from the research are available in Hazard Note 20, Where, why and how are Australians dying in floods?

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