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Flood resilience a pressing national focus for Southern Cross University


Sharlene King
5 February 2019

Southern Cross University unveiled plans today to create a new national institute to assist flood-prone communities and build their resilience.

The National Institute for Flood Resilience will be headquartered at the University’s Lismore campus, which lies at the centre of the most active flood-plain in Australia outside the tropics.

The National Institute will apply a systems approach to flood risk, response and mitigation through critical national and international partnerships.

The National Institute will address exactly the sort of crucial issues being presented by vulnerable flood affected communities across Australia: how to plan, predict and respond to one of nature’s most savage events.

Nearly 80% of all natural disasters in the world since 1970 have been flood-related.

This new National Institute was the focus of a funding commitment of $12.3m by the federal Australian Labor Party when Opposition Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek visited the University on Tuesday February 5.

“The new Flood Resilience Institute will build on the existing investment and work undertaken over recent years by Southern Cross University,” Vice Chancellor Adam Shoemaker said.

“Specifically, this strengthens dramatically the establishment in 2017 of the Southern Cross Centre for Flood Research; and the two decade-long operation here on campus of the emergency evacuation centre for households and businesses in the Lismore region.”

Lismore is a regional city of 27,000 people located inland of Byron Bay on the NSW Far North Coast.  In 2017, Lismore was hit by the most damaging floods in more than 40 years off the back of Cyclone Debbie.

The National Institute for Flood Resilience will evaluate and test new approaches to increasing flood resilience across all sectors of the regional environment - social, economic, ecological and cultural - within flood-affected communities in Australia, and overseas.

“This region is a living laboratory for flood research and flood preparedness. This new Institute will undertake work of national and international significance, drawing on a diverse range of fields from environmental science, business, law, engineering, coastal waters, education and health,” Professor Shoemaker said.

Labor’s commitment towards the Institute comes from its proposed University Future Fund.