National Flood Guidelines

The Australian Government is committed to improving the quality and consistency of flood information through the development of guidelines and standards. Such tools can inform both the design of future flood studies, and the management of flood risks. Currently there are three national guidelines that provide, respectively:

  • a framework for Australian jurisdictions to coordinate their approach to future flood mapping;
  • a national guideline for the estimation of design flood characteristics; and
  • a handbook to support best practice in flood risk management.

National Guidelines for the National Flood Risk Information Program

The National Guidelines for the National Flood Risk Information Program External site link (the Guidelines) set out the framework and principles under which Australian jurisdictions will work together to improve the quality, consistency and accessibility of information on floods. They build on an ongoing program of coordinated effort under the auspices of the now Standing Council on Law and Justice (previously Standing Council on Police and Emergency Management, SCPEM) and the now Australia-New Zealand Emergency Management Committee (previously the National Emergency Management Committee, NEMC) to generate nationally consistent flood mapping.

The Guidelines set out the roles and responsibilities of the local, State and Territories and the Australian Government in relation to the Portal and articulate best practice principles and guidelines for a national approach to the creation, collation and dissemination of flood information in Australia.

The Guidelines will be subject to revision as the nature and understanding of flood risk information change, and as relevant technologies develop. Implementation of these Guidelines will enable all levels of government, the corporate and non-government sectors, communities and individuals to more effectively address flood risk issues.

Australian Rainfall and Runoff

Australian Rainfall and Runoff (ARR) External site link is a national guideline for the estimation of design flood characteristics in Australia. The 1987/1999 edition, published by Engineers Australia, has served the industry well but is now being revised. The revision process includes 21 research projects, which have been designed to fill knowledge gaps that have arisen since the 1987 edition was published. These research projects will allow industry to comment on the technical direction before the new edition of the ARR guideline is released.

The ARR guidelines and accompanying datasets are a significant source of technical information used to determine the degree to which a particular area is flood-prone. The guidelines allow engineers and planners to make more informed decisions about the location and design of infrastructure and buildings.

Since 2008, the Australian Government, through the Department of the Environment External site link , has provided $4 million in funding, with the Bureau of Meteorology External site link making a significant in-kind contribution, to enable Engineers Australia to progress the ARR revision. Since the initiation of the National Flood Risk Information Project Geoscience Australia has committed a further $5 million to complete the revision.

Keeping ARR up-to-date is an important component in the provision of reliable (robust) estimates of flood risk. The revision will take into account new approaches to catchment and flood modelling, include a significant volume of new data about rainfall and runoff patterns, and embrace the considerable advances that have been made in computing technology. The revision will be made available digitally, providing increased efficiencies for the consultants and others who develop flood studies. It will also enable the individual components of ARR to be more easily updated in the future.

Managing the floodplain - a guide to best practice in flood risk management in Australia - Handbook 7

The Managing the floodplain: a guide to best practice in flood risk management in Australia - AEMI Handbook 7 External site link recognises that effective flood risk management can enable a community to become as resilient as practicable to floods. Resilience achieved through planning and preparing for, responding to and recovering from flooding requires a coordinated, multidisciplinary approach across all levels of government and between agencies with different responsibilities. It also requires the support of a range of non-government organisations and industry professionals in a wide range of activities and fields (such as land-use planning) and the active engagement of the community.

The goal of increased resilience to floods requires the management of the flood impacts on both existing developed areas of the community and areas that may be developed in the future. Generally, this involves a combination of flood mitigation, emergency management, flood forecasting and warning measures, land-use planning, and infrastructure design considering the local flood situation and the associated hazards. Decision makers in these areas, insurers and the general public require access to information on flood risk to make informed management and investment decisions.

The Managing the floodplain: a guide to best practice in flood risk management in Australia - AEMI Handbook 7, recently completed by the National Flood Risk Advisory Group (NFRAG) aims to set out a framework for best practice for flood plain management.