Research leader

Prof David Johnston
Prof David Johnston Research Leader

End User representatives

Andrew Richards
Andrew Richards End-Users

Research team

Prof Douglas Paton
Prof Douglas Paton Research Team

This project aimed to better understand the factors that shape community resilience to tsunami in Australia, and effective tsunami warning risk communication. The research phase is now completed. The need for this work derived from the fact that the Australian coastline faces some 8,000km of active tectonic plate boundary capable of generating a tsunami that could reach Australia in two to four hours. Recognition of this risk led to the development of the Australian Tsunami Warning System.

The exposure of coastal areas and short lead times makes it important that communities exposed to tsunami threat accept their risk and act on this to increase their response capability. Interviews in communities in New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia identified diverse views on what people should be warned of, and how to warn them. Views on what people should be warned of include long term issues (problems evacuating, long term impact on infrastructure, resourcing) and immediate actions (knowing one’s evacuation route). A need to adapt warnings to specific geographical localities and to enhance community readiness was also identified.

The findings of the project have been presented to the Australian Tsunami Advisory Group and the NSW SES, and will be used to inform the development and implementation of a community engagement strategy that can be used by end-user agencies to develop community warning and response strategies.

Community Understanding of the Tsunami Risk and Warning Systems in Australian Communities
18 Aug 2015

The Eastern Australian coastline faces some 8,000km of active tectonic plate boundary capable of generating tsunami that could reach Australia in 2-4 hours. The risk to coastal areas is substantial. For example, in New South Wales, some 330,000 people live at or below a height of 10 metres above sea-level and within 1km of the coast/coastal river. Recognition of this risk promoted development of the Australian tsunami warning system (ATWS).

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How Risk Informs Emergency Management: A Study of the Interface Between Risk Modelling for Tsunami Inundation and Emergency Management Policies and Procedures
18 Aug 2015

A tsunami generated by an earthquake within the Hikurangi Subduction Margin is probably a candidate for the most destructive tsunami New Zealand is to encounter. And this is not New Zealand’s risk alone; destructive tsunamis of this scale are also a major risk to Australia’s coast. However surveys have shown that understanding of tsunami risk and correct warning-response action is limited, and that there is a considerable distance to go to ensure adequate awareness and preparedness of individuals and communities.