Our People

Andrew Richards
End User Rep

About

Lead end user

During a disaster responsibility for animals lies with the owner. However, owners are often ill-prepared for themselves and their animals, which can lead to people risking their lives by failing to evacuate or evacuating too late, which endangers both human and animal lives. This recognition that animals need to be considered and integrated into emergency management and disaster preparedness, response, and recovery poses additional challenges for traditional responding. Extra preparation, knowledge and skills are required to ensure the safety of animals, their owners, and responders.

In this context, animal emergency management has emerged as a relatively new area, with a more complex and often less experienced set of stakeholders requiring integration and coordination.

This study, now in its utilisation phase, sought to address the lack of Australian research by identifying challenges for end-users and studying the disaster experiences of animal owners and responders. Subsequent publications have led to an extended knowledge base, and identification of best practice approaches.

The increasing frequency and complexity of natural hazards poses a challenge for community resilience. Communication and education of risk mitigation strategies play an essential role in building and maintaining resilience through preparation and planning by residents.

This project, now in its utilisation phase, has combined expertise in communication, social and consumer psychology, and disaster and emergency management. It identified barriers and enablers in residents’ decision making, preparing, and planning by examining residents’ intended use of different types of triggers for action during hazards. This included when to start evacuating and what information source to use, with the aim of trying to understand why some residents form a better-quality household plan with safer intended triggers than other residents.

With the multitude of warnings issued when an emergency hits, how can emergency services ensure their critical safety advice is heard and acted upon, rather than dismissed as noise? This project is helping emergency services warn communities by actively testing the wording and structure of warning messages to better understand how messages are understood and translated into direct action. The team is supporting broader initiatives in the communications and warnings space, not just for individual organisations, but also at the national level by providing reviews and assisting with the development of evidence-based warning doctrine.

This project aimed to better understand the factors that shape community resilience to tsunami in Australia, and effective tsunami warning risk communication. The research phase is now completed. The need for this work derived from the fact that the Australian coastline faces some 8,000km of active tectonic plate boundary capable of generating a tsunami that could reach Australia in two to four hours. Recognition of this risk led to the development of the Australian Tsunami Warning System.

The findings of the project have been presented to the Australian Tsunami Advisory Group and the NSW SES, and will be used to inform the development and implementation of a community engagement strategy that can be used by end-user agencies to develop community warning and response strategies.

Research team:

This project is developing an index of the current state of disaster resilience in Australian communities – the Australian Natural Disaster Resilience Index. The Index is a tool for assessing the resilience of communities to natural hazards at a large scale and is designed to provide input into macro-level policy, strategic planning and community engagement activities at national, state and local government levels.

Deliverables will include development of disaster resilience indicators, maps of disaster resilience at multiples scales, a State of Disaster Resilience Report, and examples that use the Index in a natural hazard resilience planning context.

This study commenced in July 2017 and will develop an understanding of the motivations, beliefs, decision making processes and information needs of at-risk groups for flood fatalities. It will cover both age and gender, including an understanding of what a Plan B would look like, how to motivate proactive decision making ahead of the journey, what the current challenges and barriers are to this and what further support and information is needed. The opportunity to undertake a PhD in this project is currently open, with details available at http://www.bnhcrc.com.au/research/resilience-hazards/4097

Resources credited

Type Released Title Download Key Topics
Presentation-Audio-Video 15 Sep 2015 Communications and Warnings File Save (0 bytes) communication, multi-hazard, warnings
Presentation-Slideshow 07 Jul 2017 Communicating and warning: getting the message across more effectively PDF icon Save (4.79 MB)