Queensland summer means natural disaster season

By STUART ARMITAGE, Queensland Farmers’ Federation President

As we welcome in November it’s good to note that we are also welcoming the official start of the cyclone season. Australia’s cyclone season runs from November through to April with Queensland being a regular feature. This is why it is so important that all farmers within cyclone regions undertake a stocktake, watch the forecast and get your individual plans finalised.

Queensland is no stranger to cyclones with a number systems having devastating and long lasting impacts on rural communities. Most recently, Cyclone Marcia hit Yeppoon as a Category 4 system, then moved over Rockhampton as a Category 3 system and continued south as an intense low pressure system to Monto. Cyclone Yasi and Cyclone Oswald also live on fresh in people memories.

On average Australia has 11 cyclones per season, with 4 of these crossing the coast. The BOM 2016–17 season outlook predicts an average to above-average number of cyclones this season. This is in part due to the La Nina or La Nina-like conditions predicted over the summer months. These seasons mean warmer waters around northern Australia which is one of the key ingredients for cyclone development. It is important to remember that cyclones are only part of the problem. Flooding is another common disaster throughout Queensland, and can occur with low pressure system, storms or even just prolonged rain through the wet season.

The Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) has taken a lead role in natural disaster recovery and resilience by supporting affected farmers throughout the state. The Cyclone Marcia Industry Recovery Programme to assist landholders’ recovery through central Queensland is currently being finalised. By providing technical, financial and emotional support to those impacted, QFF and its industry members have helped our farmers get back on their feet and prepare for future events.

Further information on the assistance available to farmers post natural disasters is available on a purpose-built QFF website: farmerdisasertsupport.org.au. The site has a simple postcode and industry search function that provides a one stop shop of all industry specific, local, state, federal and not-for-profit assistance available in your local area.

I encourage farmers from all industries to utilise this resource as it will save you time and frustration when you need it most. This site has been built by industry for industry to get you back on your feet and better prepared for the next event.

Recovery is only one piece of the puzzle when we talk about natural disaster assistance. QFF is working extensively on resilience planning for disasters and risk management projects to develop industry appropriate insurance products. These projects aim to reduce the physical and financial impacts of natural disasters on your farm business with the goal to restore the property to its pre-disaster capability as quickly as possible. Working closely with the insurance industry and our member organisations, QFF hopes this work will bring appropriate insurance products to market faster to give farmers other risk management tools.

Natural disasters are an unfortunate and difficult reality for all Queensland farmers. It is essential that farmers take the time to prepare and stay vigilant during natural disaster seasons. Don’t let another year pass being unprepared for the natural disaster season. I encourage you to use the services that are available in both preparation and in recovery.