Research leader

Dr Katharine Haynes Research Leader

End User representatives

Corey Shackleton End-Users
Duncan McLuckie End-Users
Tim Wiebusch End-Users
Elspeth Rae End-Users
Belinda Davies End-Users
Michael Morgan
Michael Morgan End-Users
John Richardson
John Richardson End-Users
Marcus Morgan End-Users

Research team

Lucinda Coates Research Team
Andrew Gissing Research Team
Matalena Tofa Research Team
Prof John McAneney Research Team
Dr Ryan Crompton Research Team
Dr Niyas Madappatt Research Team

This study has informed community flood warning campaigns, emergency services training and national policy initiatives by investigating the circumstances of all flood fatalities in Australia from 1900 to 2015. It has also compare the impacts of disasters from more than 100 years ago with more recent events.

By exploring the socio-demographic and environmental factors surrounding the 1,859 flood fatalities over 115 years, the research 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 NSW State Emergency Service has used the findings of the research for its ‘FloodSafe’ community campaign and training, while the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services has used it to inform its ‘If It’s Flooded, Forget it’ campaign.

The results of this research have significantly contributed 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. This working group comprised policy makers, practitioners and researchers involved in flood risk management from Australia and New Zealand.

Similar analysis has recently been completed for fatalities due to cyclones, earthquakes and severe storms across the same time period (1900 to 2015). At least 406 fatalities occurred, with three quarters due to severe storms. The majority of these fatalities have been males.

As well as fatalities, the project has also explored building damage, by hazard, across time and by state or territory. Historical losses have been adjusted for known societal changes (i.e. numbers of homes, the value of these homes and improvements in building codes and construction). While there is substantial variability across time, there is no statistically significant upward trend in the cost of natural hazards. This result implies that no signal has yet been detected to indicate that insured losses from causes other than societal changes (such as population changes and wealth growth) are increasing.

No single hazard dominates or is responsible for most insured building losses— hailstorms, cyclones, floods, earthquakes and bushfires all feature as the most damaging events in Australia.

Year Type Citation
2017 Conference Paper Rumsewicz, M. Research proceedings from the 2017 Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC Conference. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC annual conference 2017 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2017 Conference Paper Haynes, K., Tofa, M., Gissing, A., Coates, L. & Roche, K. Sheltering in place during flooding: a case study of ex cyclone Debbie. AFAC17 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2017 Report McAneney, J. et al. A natural hazard building loss profile for Australia: 1900-2015. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2017 Report Gissing, A., Tofa, M., Opper, S. & Haynes, K. Influence of road characteristics on flood fatalities in Australia. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2017 Report Coates, L. et al. An analysis of human fatalities from cyclones, earthquakes and severe storms in Australia. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2017 Report Haynes, K., Coates, L. & Gissing, A. An analysis of human fatalities and building losses from natural disasters: annual project report 2016-17. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2016 Conference Paper Rumsewicz, M. Research proceedings from the 2016 Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC conference. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC annual conference 2016 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2016 Conference Paper Rae, E., Campbell, P., Haynes, K., Gissing, A. & Coates, L. Preventing flood related fatalities: a focus on people driving through floodwater. AFAC16 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2016 Journal Article Gissing, A., Haynes, K., Coates, L. & Keys, C. Motorist behaviour during the 2015 Shoalhaven floods. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 31, (2016).
2016 Report Haynes, K. et al. An analysis of human fatalities from floods in Australia 1900-2015. (2016).
2016 Report Haynes, K., Coates, L. & van den Honert, R. An analysis of human fatalities and building losses from natural disasters: Annual project report 2015-2016. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2015 Conference Paper van den Honert, R., Coates, L., Haynes, K. & Crompton, R. Estimating the Impacts of Natural Hazards on Fatalities and Building Losses Conference Paper 2014. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC Wellington Conference 2014 (2015).
2015 Conference Paper Rumsewicz, M. Research proceedings from the 2015 Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC conference. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC annual conference 2015 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2015 Conference Paper Gissing, A., Haynes, K., Coates, L. & Keys, C. How do we reduce vehicle related deaths: exploring Australian flood fatalities 1900-2015 - non peer reviewed extended abstract. Adelaide Conference 2015 (2015).
2015 Journal Article Gissing, A., Haynes, K., Coates, L. & Keys, C. Reducing deaths from driving into floodwaters. Crisis Response Journal 11, 66-67 (2015).
2015 Report van den Honert, R. An Analysis of Human Fatalities and Building Losses from Natural Disasters Annual Report 2014. (2015).
2015 Report Haynes, K. & Coates, L. An analysis of building losses and human fatalities from natural disasters: Annual project report 2014-2015. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2014 Journal Article Okada, T., Haynes, K., Bird, D., van den Honert, R. & King, D. Recovery and Resettlement following the 2011 flash flooding in Lockyer Valley. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 8, (2014).
2014 Journal Article Coates, L., Haynes, K., O'Brien, J., McAneney, J. & de Oliveira, F. Dimer. Exploring 167 years of vulnerability: An examination of extreme heat events in Australia 1844–2010. Environmental Science and Policy 42, 33-44 (2014).
The heat is on... and has been for a while, new research shows
25 Aug 2014

A paper analysing the historical impacts of extreme heatwaves in Australia has been one of the first outputs of a project to measure and understand the impacts of natural hazards in terms of human health and building damage. 

Key Topics
Estimating the Impacts of Natural Hazards on Property and Building Losses
08 Sep 2014

To measure and understand the impacts of natural hazards in terms of the toll on human life and injuries, and building losses and damage, in order to provide an evidence base for emergency management policy and practise

Key Topics
Would You Drive Through Flood Water?
18 Aug 2015

Floods are the second highest cause of death from natural hazard events in Australia following extreme heat. Bushfire and Natural Hazard CRC research has so far uncovered 1874 flood fatalities between 1900-2015. This data shows a growing number of fatalities associated with vehicles entering floodwaters, particularly 4WDs.

Key Topics
Katharine Haynes Conference Poster 2016
12 Aug 2016

This project is measuring and gaining a greater understanding of the impacts of natural hazards in terms of the toll of human life, injuries and building damage in order to provide an evidence base for emergency management policy and practice.

An analysis of human fatalities and building losses from natural disasters in Australia
29 Jun 2017

Who is most at risk? Why? What are they doing? How have vulnerability and exposure trends changed over time? What can we learn about the circumstances of these deaths? This information will assist agencies with planning, resourcing and community education.