Protecting communities against flood - where is more work needed?

The level of flood exposure to Australian families and businesses remains a significant challenge for insurance companies, which must charge premiums in accordance with the risk.

Reducing insurance premiums in flood-affected areas can only be achieved by either making less-risky areas pay higher premiums than they should, or by addressing the root cause of the flood exposure.

Experience in other insurance markets demonstrates that forcing those with a lower exposure to subsidise those with higher exposure is an unsustainable approach that also does nothing to prevent repetitive tragedies.

Strong evidence within Australia shows that removing or reducing the level of exposure is the best way to protect communities. It achieves a lasting reduction in insurance premiums.

There are many different ways to prioritise where flood risk mitigation works should be considered.

This page highlights the most flood prone-regions in Australia by using Federal electoral boundaries for definition and then ranking for the number of flood prone land parcels known to be in the region.

The analysis employs government flood mapping collected by the Insurance Council and made available to insurers through the ICA DataGlobe. This process does not discount the fact that many comminities outside of these electorates are also in desperate need of funding for flood risk management activities.

It does not take into account the extent to which buildings placed on these land parcels may have been constructed with floor levels above certain flood depths in an effort to reduce exposure. This data is not typically made available by local or state governments.

Sixteen of the 20 most flood-affe ted electorates are in Queensland* and 4 are in New South Wales**. Each of these electorates contains locations that have a significant number of land parcels that are exposed to flood probabilities ranging from 5 per cent to Probable Maximum Flood.

Some locations within these federal electorates are governed by local governments with comprehensive flood-risk mitigation programs. Others lack the capacity and funding to carry out the required work.

Flood mitigation can take many forms. For those areas with legacy flood risks finding a solution requires a commitment to mapping and analysing the risks and then assessing the merits of each mitigation option, This effort, typically undertaken by local governments, requires serious commitment from federal and state governments to fund both the analysis and then the preferred permanent mitigation works. The benefits of a multi-agency approach to understanding flood risks and how best to manage them can not be overstated. Pioneering work performed by the Queensland Reconstruction Authority on managing flood risks in the Burnett River Catchment is worthy of replication across the country and funding by government.


20 Worst Flood Prone Federal Electorates in Australia

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No 1. HERBERT

55,460 land parcels with flood exposure.

The electorate of Herbert contains many locations exposed to riverine flood, but none larger than Townsville. Mitigation against high frequency flooding is provided in part by operation of the Ross River Dam, built in 1971 and upgraded in 2007 for $115 million. Despite this protection over 45,000 Townsville land parcels still have significant flood exposures. Without the upgrades to the Ross River Dam this exposure would be significantly larger. Further mitigation is possible for Townsville to reduce the frequency and severity of flood exposure.

Townsville Council in conjunction with the state government, has developed a comprehensive floodplain mitigation strategy that commenced in 2009 and is currently considering options for mitigation and improving the resilience of the community.

Available options to mitigate Townsville’s flood exposure will not be inexpensive and this region should be considered for substantial targeted federal funding in order to progress mitigation initiatives in a timely fashion.

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No 2. KENNEDY

35,284 land parcels with flood exposure.

Kennedy is more than twice the size of the United Kingdom and contains many of Australia’s most remote communities. There are many population centers where flood risk is prevalent including:

Edmonton (3004), Ingham (2266), Gordonvale (1720), Charters Towers City (735), Alice River (610), Balgal Beach (609), Mareeba (608), Richmond Hill (597), Innisfail Estate (581), Kurrimine Beach (576), Tully (570), Atherton (553), Innisfail (500), East Innisfail (431), Cloncurry (408), Halifax (406), Abergowrie (375), Aloomba (343), Mourilyan (334), Queenton (327), Goondi Bend (320), Tolga (319), Ravenshoe (318), Silkwood (296), Trebonne (287), Forrest Beach (278), Karumba (274), Macknade (264), and Hawkins Creek (259)

There are a further 250 townships with less than 200 land parcels exposed.

There are relatively few known mitigation levees in place for these locations, with flood risk predominantly managed by elevating properties above the 1 percent flood, as well as procedural management of temporary isolation.

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No 3. MARANOA

31,452 land parcels with flood exposure.

Maranoa contains a number of flood prone locations, several of which have been progressively mitigated over the last decade. Charleville, Roma and St George have benefited from mitigation efforts by government, with subsequent premium adjustments.

Flood impacted towns include Dalby (5741), Charleville (1896), Chinchilla (1699), Roma (1529), Kingaroy (806), Cunnamulla (786), Longreach (735), Yarraman (687), Tara (684), Inglewood (669), Mitchell (642), Jandowae (447), Dirranbandi (443), Warwick (367), St George (361), Alpha (343), Warra (297), Condamine (259), Miles (257), and Meandaraa (251).

There are a further 343 townships with less than 200 land parcels exposed.

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No 4. BLAIR

27,310 land parcels with flood exposure.

The primary locations with more than 250 flood prone properties include:

Brassall (2598), Raceview (2150), Dundamba (1869), Karalee (1525), North Booval (1229), North Ipswich (1149), East Ipswich (1049), Booval (905), One Mile (882), Ipswich (874), Lowood (844), Riverview (820), Fernvale (811), Leichhardt (749), Yamanto (675), Churchill (640), Collingwood Park (633), Silkstone (563), Woodend (477), Barellan Point (469), Basin Pocket (424), Tivoli (414), Wulkuraka (377), Sadlers Crossing (3360, Coalfalls (319), Dinmore (314), Chuwar (272), and Blackstone (262).

There are a further 60 townships with fewer than 250 land parcels exposed in each instance.

No 5. FLYNN

26,560 land parcels with flood exposure.

The main locations with more than 250 flood prone properties include:

Emerald (2440), Gayndah (1066), Blackwater (495), Agnes Water (476), Sharon (468), Gooburrum (404), Moore Park Beach (391), Gladstone Central (385), New Auckland (367), Alton Downs (353), Theodore (350), Mount Perry (332), Biloela (321), Mount Morgan (312), Proston (306), Calliope (300), South Kolan (272), The Gemfields (265), Kin Kora (259), and West Gladstone (251).

There are a further 411 townships exposed to to flood risk.

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No 6. PAGE

26,067 land parcels with flood exposure.

The most flood prone federal electorate in New South Wales. The main locations with more than 250 flood prone properties include:

Grafton (4330), Casino (2744), Yamba (2418), Iluka (1048), South Lismore (1027), Lismore (1022), South Grafton (904), Woolgoolga (597), Coraki (520), Maclean (512), Ulmarra (496), Woodburn (463), North Lismore (414), Lawrence (411), Wardell (358), East Lismore (356), Wooli (353), Nana Glen (309), Broadwater (292), Moonee Beach (286), Harwood (272).

A number of these locations have some flood mitigation in place, typically reducing high frequency flooding, whilst leaving towns exposed to larger floods. For example, the mitigation levee protecting the CBD of Lismore is understood to have been designed to protect the city against the 10% (10yr) flood event, leaving residents exposed to the 5%, 2%, 1% and Probable Maximum Flood. A level of protection hardly able to be recognised in insurance premiums.

There are a further 125 townships with less than 250 land parcels exposed.

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No 7. FADDEN

25,881 land parcels with flood exposure.

The key issue with this electorate is a near total absence of quality flood data available for the Gold Coast, an extremely flood prone region, poorly mapped.

The primary locations with more than 250 flood prone properties include:

Hope Island (6015), Paradise Point (4031), Helensvale (2811), Runaway Bay (2742), Labrador (1732), Biggera Waters (1513), Coomera (1246), Jacobs Well (1135), Coombabah (993), Hollywell (831), Pimpana (554), Oxenford (368), South Stradbroke (341), and Steiglitz (338).

There are a further 10 townships with fewer than 250 land parcels at flood risk in any instance.

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No 8. LEICHARDT

25,424 land parcels with flood exposure.

An electorate with high cyclone and related flood exposure.

The primary locations with more than 250 flood prone properties include:

Mount Sheridan (1773), Mooroobool (1753), Bentley Park (1620), Manunda (1618), Manoora (1600), White Rock (1345), Woree (1205), Holloways Beach (1188), Yorkeys Knob (1149), Redlynch (972), Smithfield (944), Bungalow (880), Trinity Park (854), Bayview Heights (734), Caravonica (714), Westcourt (707), Earlville (659), Parramatta Park (556), Brinsmead (528), Whitfield (525), Kanimbla (523), Portsmith (479), Machans Beach (460), Cairns CBD (369) and Aeroglen (259).

There are a further 22 townships with fewer than 250 land parcels at flood risk.

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No 9. GRIFFITH

24,988 land parcels with flood exposure.

Part of Brisbane City Council’s local government area, the main locations with more than 250 flood prone properties include:

West End (3181), Coorparoo (2369), South Brisbane (2087), Woolloongabba (1970), Morningside (1897), Bulimba (1818), East Brisbane (1814), Norman Park (1752), Hawthorne (1454), Kangaroo Point (1363), Greenslopes (1090), Camp Hill (653), Balmoral (570), Cannon Hill (566), Stones Corner (510), Highgate Hill (443), Annerley (365), Murarrie (361).

See comments on the work done by Brisbane City Council at No 11.

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No 10. MORETON

24,940 land parcels with flood exposure.

Part of Brisbane City Council’s local government area, the primary locations with more than 250 flood prone properties include:

Oxley (2992), Yeronga (2259), Acacia Ridge (2088), Sherwood (1961), Coopers Plains (1911), Graceville (1823), Moorooka (1777), Corinda (1715) , Salisbury (1639), Rocklea (1416), Chelmer (1133), Fairfield (1070), Annerley (751), Yeerongpilly (748), Archerfield (598), Tennyson (384) and Willawong (283).

See comments on the work done by Brisbane City Council at No 11.

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No 11. BRISBANE

24,603 land parcels with flood exposure.

Brisbane centre and outer suburbs bordering the Brisbane River are exposed to considerable flood risk. Brisbane City Council (covering a much larger area than this single electorate) has one of the most comprehensive flood risk management programs in Australia.

These programs include mitigation works, property buybacks and household resilience programs.

Whilst Brisbane City Council has not been able to eradicate flood risks from the Brisbane River, the work undertaken to reduce flood exposures where possible, and then to inform those with residual risks, is worthy of replication across Australia.

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No 12. OXLEY

22,469 land parcels with flood exposure.

The main locations with more than 250 flood prone properties include:

Goodna (2252), Sinnamon Park (1770), Jindalee (1752), Durack (1746), Darra (1509), Westlake (1456), Riverhills (1314), Middle Park (1210), Inala (1197), Collingwood Park (1054), Jamboree Heights (690), Seventeen Mile Rocks (686), Wacol (663), Redbank (646), Mount Ommaney (590), Sumner (546), Gailes (494), Doolandella (477), Redbank Plains (449), Bellbird Park (384), Camira (334), Forest Lake (334) and Pallara (269)

There are a further 11 locations with less than 250 parcels exposed to flood risk in any instance.

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No 13. MONCRIEF

21,592 land parcels with flood exposure.

The primary locations with more than 250 flood prone properties include:

Mermaid Waters (4481), Surfers Paradise (3387), Broadbeach Waters (3324), Carrara (2546), Bundall (1795), Benowa (1613), Southport (1602), Nerang (1213), Miami (614) and Mermaid Beach (447).

There are a further 9 locations with less than 250 parcels exposed to flood risk in any instance.

As with the electorate of Fadden, the key issue with this electorate is a near total absence of quality flood data available for the Gold Coast, an extremely flood prone region, poorly mapped.

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No 14. DAWSON

21,392 land parcels with flood exposure.

The primary locations with more than 250 flood prone properties include:

Annandale (2928), Mackay (5796), Bowen (1774), Wulguru (1571), Idalia (1548), Home Hill (1492), Oonoonba (1067), Nome (485), and Stuart (280),

There are a further 15 townships with less than 250 parcels exposed to flood risk in any instance.

The northern part of this electorate is also home to some of the highest cyclone exposures in the country based on frequency and intensity.

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No 15. NEWCASTLE

20,078 land parcels with flood exposure.

The primary suburbs with more than 250 flood prone properties include:

New Lambton (2198), Mayfield (1982), Hamilton (1792), Merewether (1605), Hamilton South (1248), Carrington (905), Adamstown (883), Islington (845), Broadmeadow (828), Cooks Hill (713), Wallsend (636), Maryville (627), Georgetown (548), Wickham (498), Lambton (453), Hamilton North (405), Hamilton East (390), The Junction (345), Jesmond (316), Stockton (309), Newcastle West (290), Waratah (251).

There are a further 25 townships with less than 250 parcels exposed to flood risk in any instance.

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No 16. McPHERSON

19,205 land parcels with flood exposure.

The primary locations with more than 250 flood prone properties include:

Burleigh Waters (3866), Palm Beach (3415), Robina (2077), Currumbin Waters (2012), Varsity Lakes (1944), Clear Island Waters (1784), Elanora (1387), Burleigh Heads (525), Mudgeeraba (469), Merrimac (402), Tugun (379), Tallebudgera (320).

There are a further 7 townships with less than 250 parcels exposed to flood risk in any instance.

As with the electorate of Fadden, the key issue with this electorate is a near total absence of quality flood data available for the Gold Coast, an extremely flood prone region, poorly mapped.

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No 17. RYAN

17,861 land parcels with flood exposure.

The main locations with concentrations of more than 250 flood prone properties include:

Indooroopilly (2261), Kenmore (1975), Toowong (1873), St Lucia (1715), Fig Tree Pocket (1236), Auchenflower (1219), Karana Downs (1200), Bellbowrie (1134), Chapel Hill (1037), Taringa (1003), Moggill (764), Brookfield (517), Kenmore Hills (395), Anstead (379), Bardon (284), Pullenvale (278).

There are a further 7 townships with less than 250 land parcels exposed.

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No 18. WIDE BAY

17,142 land parcels with flood exposure.

The primary locations with more than 250 flood prone properties include:

Maryborough (5793), Tinana (1071), Granville (1007), Gympie (894), Cooroy (392), Southside (362), Monkland (279), Glenwood (260).

There are a further 183 townships with less than 250 land parcels exposed.

No 19. LYNE

16,041 land parcels with flood exposure.

The primary locations with more than 250 flood prone properties include:

Taree (2171), Forster (1735), Harrington (1564), Wingham (998), Tuncurry (970), Tea Gardens (816), Dungog (802), Lorn (625), North Haven (620), Wauchope (596), Clarence Town (369), Hawks Nest (336), Tinonee (303), Cundletown (257).

There are a further 100 townships with less than 250 land parcels exposed.

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No 20. DOBELL

15,857 land parcels with flood exposure.

The primary locations with more than 250 flood prone properties include:

Berkeley Vale (1370), Wyong (1175), Killarney Vale (1061), Long Jetty (953), Ourimbah (873), Chittaway Bay (769), Bateau Bay (607), Wyoming (582), Mardi (570), Tuggerah (474), The Entrance North (457), Blue Haven (392), Chittaway Point (386), Hamlyn Terrace (376), Gorokan (373), Lisarow (366), Tuggerawong (343), Watanobbi (337), The Entrance (325), Tumbi Umbi (318), and Toukley (308).

There are a further 48 townships with less than 250 parcels exposed to flood risk.



* Of the 16 electorates in Queensland with high flood risks, 5 have a high coincident cyclone exposure, resulting in even higher insurance premiums.

** Whilst the top 20 flood exposed federal electorates are in Queensland and New South Wales, all federal electorates contain locations that have flood exposure to some extent, these are simply the electorates with the highest number of flood exposed land parcels. South Australia is the one state that has been unable to provide comprehensive flood data over the last decade for analysis and has not been included in this report. Estimates of flood exposure in that state indicates that if quality data was made available by the State Government the federal electorates of Hindmarsh, Sturt and Adelaide would be included in the top 20.