News from the CRC

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For the first time, emergency services and police across Australia will be surveyed about their mental health and wellbeing
For the first time, emergency services and police across Australia will be surveyed about their mental health and wellbeing

New natural hazards science for Australia

By Nathan Maddock. This article first appeared in Issue Three 2017 of Fire Australia.

An exciting series of new research has begun at the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, with nine new projects now underway. Joining the existing platform of natural hazards science, the projects will cover mental health and well-being, coastal management, emergency management capability, risk communication, land use planning, sustainable volunteering and recovery post-disaster.

Making the next phase of national research into natural hazards, the projects will support fire, emergency service and land managers as they work to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters.

These important projects will build on the existing foundation of natural hazards research established by the CRC in 2013. The CRC has reached an exciting point in its life, with many of its existing projects beginning to mature. Some of the original projects have now finalised their research, while many others are set to begin the next stage of the science.

The nine new projcets outlined below will broaden the scope of the existing national natural hazards research and offer vital outcomes for fire, emergency services and land managers—and through them, Australian communities.

National mental health and wellbeing study of police and emergency services

In conjunction with beyondblue, up to 20,000 current and former personnel from 35 police and emergency organisations across Australia will be asked to participate in a survey about their mental health and risk of suicide. Undertaken through the University of Western Australia, the National mental health and wellbeing study of police and emergency services will develop evidence-based strategies to support individuals, improve organisational culture and address systemic concerns that affect mental health and wellbeing.

These strategies will be developed in collaboration with a cross-section of the  police and emergency services sector, including agencies, unions, government departments, individuals, and family and community groups.

Forecasting impact for severe weather

Led by the Bureau of Meteorology and Geoscience Australia, the Forecasting impact for severe weather project aims to develop a pilot capability to make useful predictions of the impacts of extreme weather, influencing the ability for agencies and individuals to take actions to reduce damage. The project will focus on case studies along the east coast, looking at damaging winds, flooding and heavy swells.

Urban planning for natural hazard mitigation

Led by the University of Melbourne and the University of Adelaide, the Urban planning for natural hazard mitigation project will produce innovative ways of intergrating urban planning and natural hazard risk management. It will increase the understanding of what planning and emergency management can and cannot do, separately and together. It will also develop new ways to apply the tools and methods available for planning systems to the design and management of communities as they change, including population growth and where development occurs.

Flood risk communication

Previous CRC research has showed that most flood fatalities are avoidable. Continuing this line of research, the Flood risk communication project will develop an understanding of the motivations, beliefs, decision-making processes and information needs of at-risk groups for flood fatalities. 

Led by Macquarie University, the study will cover both age and gender, including an understanding of what a ‘Plan B’ would look like, how to motivate proactive decision-making before the journey, what the current challenges and barriers are to this, and what further support and information is needed. Outcomes from this project will include targeted risk-communication materials.

Diversity: building strength and capability

Led by Victoria University, the Diversity: building strength and capability project will investigate how diversity is understood and practised in emergency management. The project will seek to identify the constraints and enablers in implementing inclusion activities, and understand how diversity can improve current operational environment and systems.

Catastrophic and cascading events: planning and capability

Led by Macquarie University, the Catastrophic and cascading events: planning and capability project will identify how to improve management approaches to catastrophic events. These events can take many years to recover from, with many of the affected population choosing to permanently relocate to other areas. Economic losses can be severe when industry is disrupted, businesses close, and further demands are made for capital injections from government to support recovery costs.

Hazards, culture and Indigenous communities

Led by Western Sydney University and Deakin University, the Hazards, culture and Indigenous communities project will investigate the hazard priorities of diverse Indigenous communities in southern Australia, and the emergency management sector’s engagement with these communities. Collaborative research involving Indigenous peoples and emergency management practitioners will explore how better engagement can be supported, with a focus on the interaction of scientific, Indigenous and other knowledge sources.

Factors affecting long-term community recovery

Led by the University of New England and Massey University, the Factors affecting long-term community recovery project will investigate two complementary areas of research relating to the long-term recovery of communities after a disaster. 

The first area looks at community connectedness from the perspective of people who move home often and live  in different locations, and the role this plays in both their, and the community’s, social recovery after an emergency. The second area will use case studies to examine the enablers and barriers to successful recovery, looking at natural, cultural, human, social, political, built and financial capital.

Enabling sustainable emergency volunteering

Led by RMIT University and the University of Western Australia, the Enabling sustainable emergency volunteering project will investigate how to adapt the emergency management sector to new ways of volunteering. It will also identify the change management practices required to achieve this goal.

More news from the CRC

Dr Tariq Maqsood presenting at the 2018 Floodplain Management Association conference.
The Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC supported the recent Floodplain Management Association conference on the Gold Coast with a booth in the trade display, while a number of CRC projects presented their research...
Unpacking complexity workshop, Wellington 2018
The connections between Australian and New Zealand research in natural hazards were the focus of a workshop in Wellington last month.
Learning from past experiences is integral to emergency management. Photo: South Australia SES (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Two CRC end-users have spoken about their first-hand experiences being involved in a research project that is shaping the way emergency managers think, learn and communicate information to their teams in highly...

QFES will work to enhance the community's expectations through their new Strategy 2030. Photo: Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services is using Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC research to support its strategic planning into the next decade.
Prof Vivienne Tippett OAM
CRC researcher Professor Vivienne Tippett has been recognised for her efforts and contributions to science with a Queen’s Birthday Medal of the Order of Australia.
Dr Mel Taylor, EMPA research award 2018
CRC research on how to best plan for animals in an emergency has taken out the inaugural Emergency Media and Public Affairs (EMPA) research award, while another project on emergency warnings has been highly commended.
Peter Middleton's research is improving communication in Tasmania's emergency services.
CRC associate student researcher Peter Middleton says his recent experience at the latest Research Advisory Forum in Sydney has enhanced the way he presents his research.
An interviewee shows a researcher the impact the bushfire had on his property. Photo: NSW Rural Fire Service.
In January and February 2017, New South Wales faced some of the worst bushfire conditions ever forecast for the state, including Catastrophic fire danger ratings for many communities. During this time, a number of large...
Coaching and mentoring are relationship-based activities that require cooperation. Photo: Department of Biodiversity, Conversations and Attractions WA.
A vital new resource, backed by research, explores how coaching and mentoring builds incident management team capability for the emergency management sector.
During emergencies, individuals and teams often work under considerable pressure. Photo: New Zealand Fire Service.
There is a lot happening at an incident management centre when a bushfire, flood or cyclone occurs but two checklists are helping emergency management teams carry out effective teamwork.

News archives

AFAC17 logo

AFAC17 logo

All the resources from our 2017 conference

National research priorities for natural hazards

National research priorities for natural hazards

National priorities for research

The Sir Ivan fire. Photo: Nick Moir, Fairfax Media

The Sir Ivan fire. Photo: Nick Moir, Fairfax Media

Research findings from 2017 NSW fires

Four years of highlights

Bushfire planning with kids ebook

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Index of Editions

Issue Two of Fire Australia for 2018 includes a look at two checklists that are helping emergency management teams when there's a breakdown in communication, the findings on community preparedness after three catastrophic bushfires swept across NSW in early 2017, four utilisation case studies that are helping agencies and incident management tools to enhance communication and capability
Issue One of Fire Australia for 2018 includes a recap of the International Day for Disaster Reduction, investigates what catastrophic flooding could look like in Sydney, asks if your coastal community can cope with rising sea levels, highlights our research in incident management development and looks at predicting blow up bushfires.
Issue Four 2017 of Fire Australia includes research on including animals in emergency planning, details from AFAC17, new priorities in natural hazards research, and a Black Saturday case study to develop guidelines for improved community messaging in bushfires.
Issue Three of Fire Australia for 2017 features new prediction software for predictions of bushfire spread, how NSW's geography curriculum allows students to become agents of change for community resilience, suggestions for reducing the risks involved in prescribed burning, research on the impacts of severe wind during Cyclone Debbie, and new natural hazards science at the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC.
Issue Two of Fire Australia for 2017 features information about a weather phenomena called a mountain wave that produces severe fire behaviour, an analysis of flood fatalities in Australia, what we can learn about disaster preparation from Indonesia, and leadership for our emergency service volunteers.
Issue One of Fire Australia for 2017 features firestorms, disaster resilience, fire preparation in Bangladesh and the International Day for Disaster Reduction.
PhD progress, human factors and decision-making capabilities, asbestos risk and the role of pharmacies in disasters are showcased in the Spring 2016 edition of Fire Australia magazine.
The Winter 2016 edition of Fire Australia magazine highlights important research including reducing hazard impacts with smarter spending, fire modelling and wind behaviour as well as the rewarding experience of PhD student placements in the sector.
Mitigating disasters: how damage from floods, fires and storms can be prevented through careful planning and investment; a new approach to flood forecasting using remote sensing data; and case studies from the CRC are highlighting paths to integrate bushfire science into government policy and planning.
Developing a smartphone app to measure fuels for bushfire, 2015's International Day for Disaster Reduction, a case study on the Be Ready Warrandyte initiative and a look at what could happen if Adelaide was hit by a large earthquake.