Queensland Department of Community Safety

THE CHALLENGE

Tropical Cyclone Yasi crossed the North Queensland coast near Mission Beach in February 2011, the largest cyclone to hit the coast in almost 100 years. Wind gusts in the vicinity of 280km/h made it a borderline Category 5 system. Despite widespread damage to houses, buildings and other infrastructure, there was no direct loss of life resulting from Tropical Cyclone Yasi. The sheer scale of the cyclone, the unpredictability of the point of landfall and anticipated major storm tides in low lying coastal areas challenged disaster managers at the local, district and state level.

Noetic was engaged by the Department of Community Safety to conduct an independent review of the disaster management performance of Queensland during the cyclone. The review aimed to identify areas of improvement since Tropical Cyclone Larry (the response to which Noetic reviewed in 2006) and highlight lessons to be learnt from the Tropical Cyclone Yasi experience.

WHAT NOETIC DID

Noetic conducted an extensive series of interviews and focus groups in Brisbane and North Queensland with senior personnel involved in the disaster response effort. This included elected officials, disaster management staff, police and other emergency services personnel. The information from this process was analysed and synthesised to inform the development of Noetic’s report. The report contained detailed findings of the review and recommendations to address areas requiring further action by the relevant government authorities and agencies.

THE OUTCOME

The Department of Community Safety has a detailed record of the effectiveness of the government response to Tropical Cyclone Yasi and a range of actions areas to be addressed to continue to improve the operation of the disaster management system in Queensland.