Graeme Milligan

Graeme Milligan

Graeme Milligan is the Executive Director of the Resilience team at the Queensland Reconstruction Authority. Graeme has more 30 years’ experience in senior government roles specialising in water resources, environmental management and disaster resilience. Since 2011, Graeme has led a series of projects to strengthen the flood resilience of Queensland communities and is currently leading the delivery of Resilient Queensland, which is the implementation plan for the Queensland Strategy for Disaster Resilience. Key projects include regional collaboration to improve Queensland’s flood warning infrastructure, and three pilot projects testing a new regional collaboration approach to strengthen local resilience in Central West Queensland, the Fitzroy and Mary River Regions. Other team achievements include release of Queensland’s largest flood study, the Brisbane River Catchment Flood Study in May 2017, and the recent completion of the Brisbane River Strategic Floodplain Management Plan released in April 2019.

Regional And Multi-Disciplinary Approaches to Supporting Resilient Rivers

In 2017, the Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA) presented at the 20th International RiverSymposium to seek guidance from an international panel of river basin management experts on achieving greater coordination for managing the impact of floods through a catchment approach. This feedback informed the delivery of two key projects delivered by the QRA in 2017 and 2018, being the Brisbane River Strategic Floodplain Management Plan and the Burnett Catchment Flood Resilience Strategy.

Both projects have been groundbreaking for Queensland, calling on regional-scale and multi-disciplined approaches to manage flood risk and achieving future prosperity in a changing climate. Both projects were informed by a developing philosophy in disaster resilience practice, tying together traditional aspects of the disaster management cycle and linking them to broader social, economic, environmental, and settlement systems. However, the delivery between the projects varied with one based heavily flood engineering principles and the other delivered through a land use planning approach.

The Brisbane River Strategic Floodplain Management Plan, was based on modelling generated from the Brisbane River Catchment Flood Study, the largest flood Study undertaken in Australia. The Flood Study modelling provided an engineering basis for further testing and exploring regional scale resilience strategies across the areas of disaster management, land use planning, community resilience, current and future risk, building guidelines and integrated catchment management. The Plan, took almost two years to develop, in contrast to the Burnett Catchment Flood Resilience Strategy which was developed without a flood modelling evidence base, and delivered over twelve month period.

Both projects delivered regional resilience action plans to achieve coordinated approaches that ultimately delivered shared solutions to common problems. The question is, was one approach better than the other?

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