Flood risk in Australia: whose responsibility is it, anyway?

Pamela Box*, Frank Thomalla, Robin Van Den Honert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents research into four key stakeholders in flood risk management in Australia: local councils, the insurance industry, the State Emergency Service (SES), and local residents; examining the perception of their own roles and responsibilities, and those of the other stakeholders. Key informant interviews were conducted in four locations-Brisbane and Emerald, in Queensland, Dora Creek, in New South Wales, and Benalla, in Victoria. We find that understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder varied considerably between research participants. Insurance representatives felt their concerns about increasing flood risk costs were unheeded until the 2010-2011 floods made them the "canary in the coal mine". Councils felt they had limited options for reducing flood risk. SES representatives felt they were too relied upon for event response, with requests for assistance outstripping their capacity to assist, and many residents were uncertain how to prepare for flood, relying on emergency agencies and the local council to protect them. Key lessons for flood risk management in Australia are (a) an urgent need for all stakeholders to better understand each others' roles and responsibilities; and (b) residents must take greater responsibility for their own personal protection. Only then can the vision of shared responsibility presented by the 2009 National Strategy for Disaster Resilience be achieved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1580-1597
Number of pages18
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • flood risk management
  • responsibility
  • stakeholders
  • perception
  • 2010–2011 floods
  • Australia


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