A method for assessing community flood management knowledge for vulnerable groups: Australia's 2010–2011 floods
Bell, E and Blashki, G, A method for assessing community flood management knowledge for vulnerable groups: Australia's 2010-2011 floods, Community Development Journal, 49, (1) pp. 85-110. ISSN 1468-2656 (2013) [Refereed Article]
Relatively little is known about managing responses to the rising
number of extreme weather events for socially disadvantaged groups.
This study aimed to discover internationally relevant lessons from
the Australian floods of 2010–2011 about managing extreme floods
for specific vulnerable groups. In particular, it aimed to examine
Queensland community stakeholder accounts of flood management to
identify the strengths and weaknesses of community knowledge about
flood management for these vulnerable groups. A two-stage ‘critical
computational linguistics’ analysis was conducted of 753 community
submissions to the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry:
(i) content scoping and quantification using linguistics software and
(ii) traditional critical discourse analysis. This produced sixty-five
concepts characterizing the community submissions collectively.
Concepts associated with the selected vulnerable groups were found
to occur least frequently. The discourses of risk, warning, evacuation
and recovery dominate language referring to vulnerable groups in the
texts analysed. Other discourses about preventative needs assessment
and impact assessment for these disadvantaged groups were little
present or absent. The study also found knowledge was stratified by
social groups with undesirable shortcomings in the knowledge
indicated by critical flood management stakeholders such as
parliamentary representatives and local disaster management groups.
We conclude that community flood management knowledge about
vulnerable groups is marginal, especially outside immediate response
management. Internationally, these are sobering findings from a
developed nation with a long history of managing extreme weather
events. Our method can help pinpoint areas of knowledge weakness
and assist community authorities to better question and support
community stakeholder responses to such extreme events.