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The 2010-2011 Queensland floods had a devastating impact which resulted in 78 per cent of the state being declared a disaster zone and the death of 35 people.
While the short-term impact of the floods has been well documented, a research team from QUT and Metro South Hospital and Health Services is asking people to fill out a survey on the long-term physical, mental and emotional effects.
Professor Gerard FitzGerald, from QUT’s School of Public Health and Social Work said the study, which is funded by the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre and Queensland Health, would help shape emergency management policy in the future.
“The survey has been sent to more than 3000 people in flood-affected areas within South-East Queensland. We are interested in what everyone has to say whether they were impacted by the floods or not,” Professor FitzGerald said.
“QUT conducted a survey on the immediate and short-term health effects of the floods in 2011 and this is a follow up. Not much is known about how people feel six years down the line from such a disaster.
“There are undoubtedly ongoing mental, physical and emotional effects that linger for years and we hope to find out what sort of support has been significant in helping people cope better.
“From the emergency management perspective it’s critical to gain a greater understanding of what can be done quickly to mitigate any negative long-term effects.”
Professor Fitzgerald said the information provided by participants in the study would be reported to appropriate Brisbane and regional agencies to enable them to develop policies to help communities better prepare for future floods.
“Survey questions include whether anyone in the household experienced physical trauma or injury, or mental illness, as a result of the floods, how they rate their health now, whether they received any reimbursement from the government or insurance company to cover losses caused by the floods, and what specific health issues they have that they believe are related to the floods,” he said.
“I believe most people have been able to recover and move on from the worst effects of the floods but there are some who continue to suffer significant consequences as a result of their exposure to the situation or what has happened afterwards.
“There is also the impact on families such as marriage breakdowns brought on by the financial and mental stress of being involved in such a disaster.
“We have sent the survey to people we think were directly affected by the floods and encourage them to share their stories with us. If anyone else affected by the floods who did not receive the survey would like to share their story with us then we welcome their input. I hope it can give them a sense of relief or closure to share how they feel as well.”
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QUT is conducting a study into the long-term health impacts of the 2010-2011 floods in South-East Queensland.