Plan for and recover from disasters

Natural disasters and hazards come in many forms, from weather extremes, to bushfires, to biosecurity alerts. Some (such as earthquakes or tornadoes) are relatively uncommon in Australia. It is recommended you investigate the likelihood of various adverse natural disasters occurring in your area, and develop an overall risk management plan for your property.

On this page:

  • Assistance
      • Australian government
      • State government
      • Local
      • Counselling services


Dionne Walsh conducting a back burn - grass on fire.Bushfires can develop from a range of sources, including planned controlled burning that escapes the original burn zone, embers from a cigarette or unattended campfire, lightning strikes, or deliberate arson. Fires are usually quick to establish, spread rapidly, and their path can be difficult to predict. Losses to stock, pasture, and infrastructure can be devastating. Even if stock are not directly affected, the loss of pasture often has longer-term implications for supplementary feeding and stocking rates.

Sources of information on bushfires:

Natural disasters - storms and floodsStorms and floods

Storms are a regular occurrence in Australia and range in intensity from minor thunderstorms to category 5 cyclones. Lightning can ignite bushfires, torrential downpours can initiate flash flooding, and high winds and hail can cause damage to crops, trees, stock, and infrastructure. Stock losses may occur during the storm (e.g. flying debris), or later from disease, starvation, or movement though damaged fences.

Flash flooding is often caused by local storms, and involves a quick rise and fall in water levels (usually within an existing watercourse). Riverine or floodplain flooding usually involves extended or heavy rainfall over a wide area of catchment, and may take hours, days or even weeks to reach your area. Floods can cause substantial damage to infrastructure, stock losses, and substantial soil erosion.

Sources of information on severe storms, floods and cyclones:


Natural disasters such as drought, affect plant health. While drought is not as much of an immediate natural disaster threat as much as an approaching bushfire or storm, the effects can be just as devastating. Drought not only impacts on current stock condition and reduces income from lower stocking rates, but prolonged drought affects overall land condition, from which it can be difficult to recover.

Sources of information on drought:

Biosecurity incursions

The risk of an exotic pest or disease entering Australia is always present. Potential repercussions of an outbreak include transport restrictions, costs of animal treatment or culling, and potential loss of international or domestic markets. Some pests and diseases may also impact on human health.

Sources of information on biosecurity:

Assistance for recovery from natural disasters

Help after natural disasters is usually divided into two types:

  1. Immediate relief (first response), such as search and rescue, shelter, food rations etc.
  2. Recovery assistance, which may be individual or community-based.

Types of recovery assistance that may be available to you after a disaster include grants, low interest loans, food or fodder drops, tax breaks or concessions, or other physical, financial, or mental support services.

Australian Government assistance

State Government assistance

Local assistance

Local councils, organisations or clubs may also be able to provide information and/or support.

Counselling services

If you are suffering hardship or stress, even if you don’t require financial assistance, there are a variety of counselling services that can offer suggestions based on your circumstances.

Local community groups may also be able to offer support.

Multimedia — Natural disasters

Climate outlooks – month and seasonal

The Bureau of Meteorology produces quarterly climate and water outlook videos – visit their Climate outlooks – monthly and seasonal web page for the latest climate outlook overview.

Protecting your most important asset – You!

‘Protecting your greatest asset – YOU’ is a short talk designed to assist people affected by drought, although it is applicable to anyone who is ‘doing it tough’. The talk offers some self-help strategies to take care of yourself and others. It also gives some guidelines on when to seek additional help, and where to go for that help. 20:03 minutes published 29 July 2014 by FutureBeefAu

Decisions for drought affected producers

Two-thirds of Queensland is drought declared and we are potentially facing a second failed wet season. The few patchy rainfall events have brought limited relief to areas desperately needing it. Even if it rains in the next few weeks, it may be too late for useful pasture growth, so it’s timely to review and critically reflect on drought action plans and develop a way forward. In this webinar recording, FutureBeef senior extension officer Roger Sneath discusses:

  • the current situation and the year ahead: developing forage budgets, adjusting cattle numbers and long term planning
  • options and tools: sell, agist, feedlot, production or survival feeding, and spreadsheets available to help decide the best one for your situation
  • feed supplies: availability, cost and how to cost nutrients
  • producers’ reflections on drought.

For your convenience, here are the presentation slides (PDF, 2.19MB) and a list of useful links (PDF, 215KB).
50:55 minutes published 28 February 2014 by FutureBeefAu

Drought and the breeder

In this presentation Dr Geoffry Fordyce (Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation) discusses the new concepts for measuring breeder productivity, with insights from the recent Cash Cow project and their application to seasonal breeder management.
28:28 minutes published 18 March 2014 by FutureBeefAu

Pasture flood recovery

In this presentation, Stuart Buck (Senior Pasture Agronomist, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries), explains the key points in pasture recovery from a flood event. Stuart covers the tolerances of grasses, various management options including pasture spelling, controlling weeds, re-seeding pasture and forage crop options and concludes with his key ‘take home’ messages.
16:16 minutes published 3 March 2013 by FutureBeefAu