Fiona Dunstan

Fiona Dunstan

End-user
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Fiona Dunstan

Lead end user

Children represent the most vulnerable demographic group in disasters – across the globe it is estimated that 30-50% of fatalities are children - while they are also most vulnerable to psychosocial impacts. Early research indicates that children are a resource for reducing current disaster risks and can also mitigate future risks.

The role of children’s disaster education in managing risk has been recognised as a major priority in the federal government’s National Strategy for Disaster Resilience. Yet, despite a recent surge in child-centred disaster research, the social, psychological, economic and political mechanisms that enable children to both understand and take action to reduce disaster risk remain largely unexplored and the evidence-base for best-practice remains limited.

This project is conducting a nationwide evaluation of programs and strategies based on a child-centred disaster risk reduction framework. It will develop cost-effective programs that reduce the risk and increase resilience for children, schools, households and communities.

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.

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