Editorial August 2018

It is great to see that two indigenous Australians are getting further recognition for the bravery they displayed more than 150 years ago saving the lives of scores of people from the flood which devastated Gundagai in 1852.  While the death toll of 89 remains our highest in a flood by far, and one of the top five natural disasters recorded in Australia, the toll could have been substantially more if not for the self-less acts of bravery of these two men.

The story goes that they would not have been called upon to undertake the rescues if the Europeans who established the original township had listened to advice from Wiradjuri locals about the flood risks.  I have heard similar stories of Aboriginal advice being ignored in the development of Newcastle and Byron Bay and I am sure the same happened all over this vast country as Europeans struggled to comprehend the extreme variability in our weather events compared to their homelands.

So now all over the country we have development which is not only prone to flooding but also not particularly resilient to it.  That is why it is pleasing that Brisbane City Council has established a program to help make frequently flooded homes more flood resilient.  We will watch with interest to see what up take it gets and how effective it becomes.  It will also be interesting to see what uptake there is of a new flood insurance product in the UK which bypasses the delays and arguments that can occur with the current processes of claims assessments.

We are also reporting on the latest research into why people choose not to evacuate when they have sufficient warning and opportunity to do so.  This highlights the importance of planning for evacuation but not solely relying upon it where evacuation is the most appropriate emergency response.  The flip side of that, in my opinion, is that the research also highlights that in particular circumstances staying put is the most appropriate response and designing for that can minimise risk to life. I know not everyone agrees with me on that but evidence based research such as this can only assist in informed debate on the issue.

Steven Molino

Editor

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