A River with a City Problem: Suncorp hosts Q&A with historian Margaret Cook


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​Recently, Suncorp hosted a Q&A evening and book launch with renowned author and historian, Dr. Margaret Cook, attended by south east Queensland’s flood and water management professionals.

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A River with a City Problem: Suncorp hosts Q&A with historian Margaret Cook

Suncorp proudly hosted an intimate evening with renowned author and local historian, Dr. Margaret Cook, to discuss her latest book. Spanning more than 130 years, A River with a City Problem documents the history of floods in the Brisbane River catchment area, focussing on the aftermath of the 1893, 1974 and 2011 floods.

Hosted in Suncorp’s Brisbane Square building as part of an ongoing partnership with the Queensland Flood Community of Practice, the evening was an opportunity for flood and water management professionals from across the south east to hear from Dr. Cook, guest speaker, Mr. David Fagan, journalist and ex-Courier Mail Editor, and host Mr. Piet Filet, Flood Community of Practice Convenor, about their own memories of the Brisbane River, and to gain a rare insight into the extensive work undertaken by the local historian. 

Throughout the course of the evening, both Ms. Cook and Mr. Fagan discussed the challenges Brisbane has faced in the years after the 1893, 1974 and 2011 floods, and how Brisbane’s wider community came together in times of hardship.

The overwhelming theme of the night, was discussing the need to improve how cities right around the world manage floods.

“Australia faces significant risk of natural disasters and Suncorp has seen first-hand the devastating impacts they have on communities, including the 2011 floods in Brisbane and most recently with the floods in Townsville earlier this year,” Joshua Cooney, Suncorp Executive Manager Government Industry and Public Policy said.

Providing a new perspective on society's relationship with such weather events, Mr. Filet praises Dr. Cook's research inspiring a larger spocial change.

"It was refreshing to bring in a historian to look at the social history" says Mr. Filet, "to better understand how we need to adapt to our futures. Our community is underpinned by a diversity of professionals working on collective measures to build resilience in living on floodplains and Margaret’s book confirms this need."

"Margaret has provided a timely reminder that floods will come again; that we all have a responsibility to be better prepared."

This message is echoed throughout A River with a City Problem, and is also a cause Dr. Cook feels passionate about.

“As a community we need to think more about where we are building our houses, what parts of the riverside we are developing, and think more about using resilient design and better building products,” Dr. Cook said.

"There’s a real disconnect of knowledge. There’s a big focus on reactive, not proactive behaviours and I think more needs to be done in regard to flood response. This is not a Brisbane story, it's a story heard right around the world."