News from the CRC

NSW RFS Schools Program

NSW RFS Schools Programs
Photo: Ben Shepherd, NSW Rural Fire Service.
Release date
22 Feb 2017

Educate the child, educate the community

Primary schools students across New South Wales are now front and centre in state-wide bushfire plans, based on research that identified the importance of involving children in active bushfire preparations for the benefit of the whole community.

Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC research is supporting bushfire education for primary school students in NSW, with the New South Wales Rural Fire Service utilising findings, along with the knowledge, skills and experience of researchers to develop a bushfire education kit.

The ‘Guide to Working with School Communities’ is being rolled out to all schools through the NSW Rural Fire Service.

The Guide follows the earlier publication of an ebook, available nationally, and based on the same principles that if you educate children on hazards safety, their families and the wider community will also benefit.

This line of research, led by the CRC’s Dr Briony Towers of RMIT University, has provided fundamental insight into how children learn about bushfires and how they share those learnings with their families. Collaboration with the NSW Rural Fire Service is continuing, and the team will evaluate the guide over upcoming fire seasons to gather data to measure its impact on community safety over successive seasons.

The team ensures that collaboration is at the heart of the research at every stage, with researchers and end-users involved in all aspects of the study, from undertaking the research to developing utilisation plans and writing journal papers. This collaboration will produce enhanced benefits when the research reaches maturity and is embedded across the country.

The broader CRC project on child-centred disaster risk reduction has been highly active on the international scene, with project co-leader Prof Kevin Ronan (CQUniversity) representing the CRC on the United Nations Integrated Research on Disaster Risk committee, as well as presenting at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, in 2015. Prof Ronan is assisting in the development of a science and technology research plan to support the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, 2015-2030. This also includes involvement in the upcoming 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Cancun, Mexico. Dr Towers has also contributed to a World Vision project to deploy the Lumkani fire detector device to slums in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her ongoing children’s bushfire education research was selected by the UNISDR Scientific and Technical Advisory Group as a best practice case study.

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