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Launceston flood research initiative flood risk in Launceston: understanding community perceptions and policy responses

Willis, KF, Vogt, M, Natalier, KA and Vince, J 2008 , Launceston flood research initiative flood risk in Launceston: understanding community perceptions and policy responses.

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This research grows out of concern for the potentially significant economic and social
outcomes of a modest or major flood event in Launceston. While the implications of
such an event would resonate throughout the greater Launceston municipality, they
would be most directly experienced in the suburbs of Invermay and Inveresk (referred
to throughout the report as Invermay). Much of this area is low lying and much is
protected from flood damage by a system of levees. Recently, engineering advice has
indicated that the levee system has been subject to significant degradation over time,
and there is concern that it could not currently deliver the functionality required to
protect Invermay against flood (GHD and Risk Frontiers, 2006). In response, plans
are now underway to strengthen the system and implement other, additional
protective measures. However, in light of the estimated time frame for the
strengthening of the levees (up to 5 years), and given that levee systems are only a
partial response to flood risk, there is a need to investigate the factors that may impact
upon response and recovery in the event of a major flood. In particular, there is a
need to understand how residents perceive the likelihood and nature of flood, how
they have engaged with the flood risk information provided to them, and the strategies
they plan to implement in a flood event.
Developing our knowledge of community responses to flood risk can contribute to
more robust and effective strategies of communication and flood risk management.
Launceston City Council has distributed information about flood risk and appropriate
responses through a number of media, but to date, residents' responses to this
communication have not been canvassed. And yet, existing risk communication
literature indicates that risk communication is most effective when a two way transfer
of information occurs, so that lay knowledge (consisting of social, historical and
personal understandings of flood) is related to expert technical information about
calculable risks and effective response. In short, effective policies must in part be
based on an understanding of how people themselves perceive and respond to any
particular phenomenon.

Item Type: Report (Project Report)
Authors/Creators:Willis, KF and Vogt, M and Natalier, KA and Vince, J
Publisher: University of Tasmania
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