ABC safety messages backed by research | Natural Hazards Research Australia

ABC safety messages backed by research

Photo: John Bates, Vic SES
Release date

24 January 2024

Research is continuing to inform flood and storm safety messages that ABC Radio deliver right across the country through their emergency broadcasting.

ABC Radio began broadcasting their new Community Service Announcements for floods and storms, based on the research findings, in November 2021. They have been broadcast across the ABC Radio network throughout the two La Nina summers of 2021/22 and 2022/23, and again this summer as storms and flooding has hit up and down the east coast.

Comprising of 26 different Community Service Announcements, these messages are the first-ever nationally agreed set of public flood and storm risk announcements. The announcements use findings from Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC research led by A/Prof Mel Taylor from Macquarie University, facilitated and supported by AFAC through the AFAC SES Community Safety Group.

“Prior to the development of these Community Service Announcements, the safety messages broadcast differed state by state and were not consistent,” explained Pat Hession, Emergency Broadcast Lead at the ABC.

“We know that the best way to reach audiences is by giving simple, consistent messages and delivering them regularly. The Community Service Announcements have been distributed nationally and reinforce the on air messages from our broadcast teams. One of the strengths of the ABC is that we’re local too and our presenters often anchor their messages based off the Community Service Announcement they have just played, giving the important local context about what it means,” said Pat.

“The value of these Community Service Announcements is they are informed by the research and they are nationally consistent – no matter which state or territory you’re in, you’ll hear the same safety messages.”

Since the rollout of the Community Service Announcements in November 2021, many parts of the country have experienced floods and storms, with ABC Radio providing emergency broadcasting. This includes:

  • Queensland and New South Wales floods, February/March 2022
  • New South Wales floods, July 2022
  • Victoria and Tasmania floods, October 2023
  • South Australia floods, December 2022/January 2023
  • Kimberley, Western Australia floods in January 2023
  • Far north Queensland floods, December 2023
  • Queensland, New South Wales, the ACT and Victoria storms and floods, December 2023/January 2024.

The 26 Community Service Announcements cover a range of topics, including:

  • six related to different risks and contexts associated with driving in floods
  • four related to playing in floodwater — these are the behaviours most associated with flood fatalities
  • four related to animal ownership
  • four that provide information about the meanings or nature of warnings and alerts
  • eight include issues around home preparation, safety considerations when cleaning up after flooding, information about what to do if you are trapped by rising floodwater or are considering staying when advised to leave, and messages about flash flooding and the implications of flooding upstream.

The Community Service Announcements are the first-ever nationally agreed set of public flood and storm risk announcements, having been endorsed in doctrine by AFAC.

What are Community Service Announcements?

Flood CSAs are used by ABC Radio before, during and after floods and severe storms for radio broadcasts and are typically around 30 seconds in duration. They contain high-level, general advice and support to listeners with the aim of increasing public safety in floods and storms. They are also often linked together to form longer public information segments to provide breaks in rolling emergency broadcasting.