What does 'shared responsibility' mean for flood risk management in Australia?
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 16:27 authored by Pamela Box
Floods are one of the most common natural hazards experienced in Australia. Approximately 250,000 properties in Australia are located within the 1 in 100 year flood zone. Floods are the costliest natural hazard, and have caused over 2,000 deaths. As population in flood-prone areas increases, and considering the potential impacts of climate change on flood frequency, preparing for floods will become increasingly important. Extensive flooding in recent years, particularly during the 2010-2011 summer, has again made flood risk an important topic of research. The concept of shared responsibility, that hazard preparedness is the job of all sectors of society and government, has been a central focus of post-disaster inquiries and government hazard strategies. This thesis examines how shared responsibility applies to flood risk management. Four key stakeholders were selected for this research: local councils, emergency services (the SES), the insurance industry, and residents. These stakeholders were selected as councils and emergency services are directly involved in flood planning and response, insurance has only recently become widely available in Australia, and residents are the people who experience floods on-the-ground. This thesis asks what gaps exist in flood risk management in Australia and what can be learnt from the recent floods to better implement shared resposnsibility. Four case studies are selected: Brisbane and Emerald in Queensland, both severely flooded during the 2010-2011 floods; Benalla in Victoria, and Dora Creek in New South Wales. Interviews were conducted with council, emergency service, and insurance representatives, examining their perceptions of their own and each others' roles and responsibilities, as well as their thoughts on individuals' responsibilities in preparing for flood. The influence of socioeconomic factors of age, gender, and income, as well as flood awareness and flood experience, on residents' thoughts on flood risk and insurance are also examined. Better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder is needed to improve flood risk management. This thesis finds that residents often expect more of official agencies such as council and emergency services, and are uncertain about personal preparation. For responsibility in flood risk management to be truly shared, individuals need to be encouraged to be more involved in their own flood preparedness.