Voluntary relocation as an adaptation strategy to extreme weather events

David King*, Deanne Bird, Katharine Haynes, Helen Boon, Alison Cottrell, Joanne Millar, Tetsuya Okada, Pamela Box, Diane Keogh, Melanie Thomas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Migration out of hazard-prone areas presents significant opportunities for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Alongside and intermingled with opportunistic migration there has always been relocation to escape, particularly from calamity, disaster and warfare. As climate change is considered a likely driver of migration, the literature encompasses a debate as to whether or not migration can be considered to be adaptation. This paper investigates the concept of voluntary within-country migration as an adaptation strategy to reduce disaster risk in Australia. We refer to this internal migration as relocation. The paper examines results of research carried out in Australia at the time of recent and extensive disasters, where opportunities were presented to examine household attitudes towards relocation in the face of future disasters of similar extent. Individuals[U+05F3] attitudes towards relocation were ascertained within an adaptation and mitigation context, at a time of emerging longer-term climate change government policy that advocates retreat from hazard-prone locations. The paper examines demographic data to reveal who is likely to leave or stay. Policy implications of relocation strategies as climate change adaptation strategy within a developed nation are discussed. This research concludes that relocation is a strategy available to some as part of an extensive range of responses to extreme weather events but undertaking unsupported resettlement is not always an option for reasons of family commitment, livelihood opportunities, financial constraints and emotional ties. Those who remain, and those who leave a hazard-prone location may both demonstrate a capacity for adaptation and resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-90
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


  • Australia
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Cyclone
  • Flood
  • Migration
  • Natural disasters
  • Relocation

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