Report and interactive map show which areas are at greatest risk of natural disasters in Australia.

We worked with the Insurance Australia Group (IAG) to examine the population data and economic activity of all local government areas in Australia. We compared this data with natural peril risk levels provided by the Insurance Council of Australia and IAG.

The aim of our analysis was to highlight:

  • locations in Australia that face the greatest risk of various natural perils
  • how this risk interconnects with local economic production, and
  • local capacity to mitigate or respond to disasters.

It was the first time that an analysis had been done on the potential loss of economic activity due to natural perils, rather than on insurable or actual economic losses.

We identified key economic risk areas, including large parts of both our mining industry and our knowledge economy in the major central business districts. For example:

  • $326.6 billion worth of Australia’s gross domestic product (20.3 per cent of the economy) and 3.9 million people (17.3 per cent of the population) live in local government areas with a high-to-extreme risk of a cyclone occurring. Recent cyclones have already significantly impacted both mineral and agricultural production.
  • 28.4 per cent of gross domestic product ($425.5 billion) and 24.9 per cent of the population (5.5 million people) live in local government areas with a high-to-extreme risk of flooding. Flood events in Queensland in 2011 were highly disruptive to economic activity and caused widespread damage.
  • the Melbourne central business district (which accommodates 450,000 workers) is at a high risk of flooding, which would impact on its transport network.
  • half a million workers in the Sydney central business district have also experienced transport disruptions caused by fierce storms in recent years.

It is not only economic activity which is at risk from natural perils. The local government areas of Brisbane, Gold Coast, Townsville and Moreton Bay in Queensland are at a high-to-extreme risk from combinations of cyclones, storms and floods. In Victoria, 17.5 per cent of the population lives in local government areas which are at a high-to-extreme risk of bushfires occurring.

SGS Economics and Planning Terry Rawnsley

"Just three per cent of government expenditure on natural perils is spent on mitigation – which would limit the impact of natural disasters – the rest is spent is spent on disaster relief”

SGS Principal and Partner Terry Rawnsley.

Explore our interactive map