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Southbank Residents Association

12 May 2017

How prepared is Southbank?

Last week I was fortunate to attend a symposium and workshop by the University of Melbourne on risk and resilience in the built environment with a specific focus on flooding.

This symposium considered climate change, risk and resilience, governance and planning responses and community. Southbank was mentioned throughout the forum and a walk-through visit to Southbank allowed us to study the flooding issues and understand the barriers and potential triggers for change.

To many Southbank residents, flooding is nothing new and we have unfortunately learnt to live with it. Clarendon and Whiteman streets are front of mind. I have seen the flooding there first-hand and have raised the flooding of these streets with the council on a number of occasions.

During the council elections at a Southbank meet the candidates forum hosted by Southbank Residents Association, former councillor Stephen Mayne spoke of the flooding problem and indicated it would require around a $100 million infrastructure investment to be made to the stormwater drains across Southbank.

Personally, I can’t see our council being able to provide to Southbank’s flood mitigation requirements.

As you may be aware, Southbank is built on swamp land, we are therefore prone to flooding particularly from water rises in the Yarra during storm surges.

A 1.05m flood level will have water spilling across Queensbridge Street down to Power Street. At 1.10m – a minor flood level, the Yarra promenade begins to flood.

In February 2005 the flood level was 1.37m, which inundated the ground floor of a number of Southbank buildings, the fire station on Moray St was affected by flooding on the road and water exceeded 30 centimetres on many streets throughout Southbank including City Rd, Miles St, Clarke St, Whiteman and Clarendon streets.

A major flood level is considered at 1.60m. In July 1891 we experienced a flood level of 2.24m.

Without being an alarmist, it made me ponder just how prepared Southbank would be for another 1-in-100-year flood. Climate change is already noticeably affecting the world’s ocean levels, which accentuates king tides that seem far too frequent.

It is anticipated there will be more frequent and unpredictable changes in weather with larger and more powerful storm surges. I would suspect flooding in Southbank is only likely to be more frequent and unpredictable over the near-term future.

How prepared are we? How prepared are our buildings, are they insured for flooding? And how prepared is our council? In a catastrophic event, where will roughly 15,000-plus residents be evacuated to?

I don’t have the answers to these questions, but the symposium certainly left me feeling action is not happening quickly enough. Dialogue is rare and I wonder who is taking the lead?

So I ask, how prepared are you? There is not likely to be much warning. What will you do?

On a happier note, the first week of May is National Volunteer Week. Firstly, I would like to extend a warm thank you to all the volunteers in our Southbank community.

Without volunteering, our community would not be as vibrant as it is. Volunteers are an integral part of our community fabric with many working tirelessly and selflessly for the betterment of others, and unfortunately often their work is unrecognised – the quiet achievers.

On behalf of the Southbank community I would particularly like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the entire Southbank Residents Association committee of volunteers for their generous devotion to advancement of the Southbank community for the betterment of all residents and workers.

If you’ve always wanted to volunteer and make a difference somewhere, we’d love you to consider volunteering to join us.

We’ll specifically be needing a secretary and someone to manage our social media platforms of Facebook and Twitter, but other roles are available too.

If you have any questions, please email us at We’d love to hear from you.


Tony Penna

President - Southbank Residents' Association

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