Resilience to Hazards


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

Project Status:

This project, currently under development, will begin on 1 July 2017. It will develop an understanding of the motivations, beliefs, decision making processes and information needs of at-risk groups for flood fatalities. It will cover both age and gender, including an understanding of what a Plan B would look like, how to motivate proactive decision making ahead of the journey, what the current challenges and barriers are to this and what further support and information is needed. Outcomes will include targeted risk communication materials.

This project, currently under development, will begin on 1 July 2017. 

The recently completed CRC project on the analysis of Australian flood fatalities identified several important trends in relation to gender, age, activity at the time of death and reasons behind the actions taken. The research discovered many new fatalities, making floods the second most deadly natural hazard (following heatwaves) in terms of the total number of fatalities since 1900. See Hazard Note 20 - Where, why and how are Australians Dying in Floods and An analysis of human fatalities from floods in Australia 1900-2015.

The significant dangers of floodwaters are also well highlighted by the spring 2016 flooding across Victoria and South Australia, and the June 2016 flooding in New South Wales and Tasmania that led to deaths and hundreds of rescues. The detailed research on the flood fatalities demonstrates that many of these rescues and flood deaths are avoidable. 

Specific high risk behaviours include:

  1. Those driving and entering floodwaters, including those in 4WDs. While young males comprise the highest risk group for this activity, there are also high proportions of women and older men dying in recent years. Of note are the high numbers of fatalities among passengers, particularly females. 
  2. Those recreating in floodwaters. Children and young adults, particularly boys and men, comprise the highest risk group. Parents are an associated risk communication target group for this category.  

There has been limited research to date that rigorously evaluates the efficacy of existing flood education and warning strategies. Research must go beyond merely measuring and improving upon successful transmission and must evaluate the efficacy of the material and methods for motivating better decision-making and behaviour. Furthermore, despite best practice advice to involve high-risk groups in participatory methods to develop targeted materials, there has been little research to evaluate the best methods for doing so. In addition, there is a need to investigate the potential for incentives and new laws to complement education and warning materials related to flood risk.

Therefore, to reduce lives lost and the number of costly and dangerous rescues, a robust and rigorous national research project is needed that ensures communication efforts are targeted effectively. The major output will be national guidelines on flood risk communication materials and methods, which wil be developed in partnership with end-users. 

22 March, 2017
An exciting new direction of natural hazards research in Australia is set to begin, with seven new Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC projects beginning in July. These new projects, covering coastal management, emergency management capability, land use planning and recovery, are part of the next phase of national research into natural hazards.
Date Title Download Key Topics
18 Apr 2017 Flood Risk Communication 354.87 KB (354.87 KB) communication, flood, warnings

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