John Handmer leads RMIT’s Risk and Community Safety research group and holds adjunct professorial positions at ANU and at the Flood Hazard Research Centre in London. He has been a member of the National Flood Risk Advisory Group, and the national committee revising the Australian Emergency Risk Assessment Guide, and was Convener of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Network for Emergency Management, and Principle Scientific Advisor for the Bushfire CRC. He was a Coordinating Lead Author for the IPCC’s special report on extremes. His research group has won a number of research awards, and was commended in the recent report Excellence in Innovation in Australia. His most recent book is J Handmer and S Dovers (2013) Handbook of disaster policies and institutions: improving emergency management and climate change adaptation. He works on the human dimensions of emergency management and disasters.
How people volunteer to keep their community safe from natural hazards is changing. As our work and life commitments change, many people do not have the time to dedicate to traditional ways of volunteering with an emergency service, undergo the required training and develop the ability to respond to potentially dangerous situations. But they still want to help, and they still want to volunteer.
This completed project has investigated current and emerging issues around volunteering and volunteers responding to disaster events, and the different factors that can influence people’s participation in non-traditional emergency volunteering. Utilisation is now in progress.
|Community volunteering and disaster recovery||Fiona Jennings|
|Household decision making in bushfire self evacuation||Ken Strahan|
|Spontaneous volunteers in the emergency management sector||Gemma Gray|
Communication and education of risk mitigation strategies play an essential role in building and maintaining resilience through preparation and planning by residents. However, little is known about the relative effectiveness of existing hazard communications and education strategies.
Citizens may play vital roles in helping those affected to respond and recover, and can provide invaluable assistance to official agencies.
The aims of this research project are to establish an evidence-base for a effective, school-based bushfire education programs with children.
Be Ready Warrandyte (BRW) was an award-winning, community-led bushfire preparedness project instigated by community members and coordinated by the Warrandyte Community Association from May 2012 to June 2015. Its goal was “to have more Warrandyte households with effective bushfire plans”. It involved close collaboration between community volunteers, local governments and the Country Fire Authority (CFA).
Disaster education for children has been identified as a key stragety for increasing disaster resilience. In Australia, comprehensive, evidence-based guidance for the development and implementation of quality education programmes is lacking. This framework, underpinned by current research in the field, aims to provide emergency service agencies and other stakeholders with a good practice approach to developing education programmes that foster children's capacities for building resilience.
The public is usually first on the scene in an emergency or disaster and remain long after official services have ceased. Citizen participation is a key principle of disaster risk reduction and resilience building. However, emergency management relies largely on volunteers affiliated with official agencies and a comparatively smaller workforce of paid staff. Individuals and groups working outside of this system have often been seen as a nuisance or liability, and their efforts are largely undervalued.
Children represent the most vulnerable demographic group in disasters. The world health organisation estimates that 30-50% of disaster fatalities are children. They are also most vulnerable to psychosocial impacts. However, preliminary research and the new Sendai Framework also identifies them as community “drivers” of change for reducing current and future disaster risks and increasing community resilience.
Citizen participation is a key principle of disaster risk reduction and resilience building.
A risk-benefit framework has been designed to assist decision-makers in emergency management organisations (EMOs) consider potential benefits and risks of six strategic options for ‘non-traditional’ emergency volunteers in response and recovery phases.