Publication Details

This paper was originally published as: Bryant, EA, Head, L & Morrison, RJ, Planning for Natural Hazards — How Can We Mitigate the Impacts?, in R.J. Morrison, S. Quin and E.A. Bryant (eds.), Planning for Natural Hazards — How Can We Mitigate the Impacts?, Proceedings of a Symposium, 2-5 February 2005, University of Wollongong, GeoQuEST Research Centre, 2005, 1-11.


Australia has the same frequency of natural hazards as any other continent; however, the types and impact of hazards are very different. Globally, the deadliest hazards are floods, earthquakes, tropical storms and tsunami. In Australia, the deadliest hazards are heat waves, floods, tropical cyclones and bushfires. Similarly, while the most expensive hazards ranked globally are also floods, earthquakes and tropical cyclones, in Australia, the costliest hazards are tropical storms, floods, wind and bushfires. Our isolated population distribution, together with rugged topography along the eastern and southern coastal fringe where the bulk of the population is concentrated, has lead to a different response to natural hazards in Australia. This paper considers some of the planning, economic and social issues related to hazard management in Australia. Communities are encouraged to be self-reliant with the national government used as a last, but effective, resort for the largest events. Funds from insurance companies and the government are used to maximise recovery in the shortest possible time. The effectiveness of these processes will be challenged by a growing population, variability in natural hazard regimes and climate change. There is a growing consensus that more attention should be directed at mitigation rather than response and recovery.