Our People

Project Leader
Key interests:


Kevin R. Ronan, BA (Univ of Minnesota), MA, PhD (Temple University)

Professor Kevin Ronan is Foundation Professor in Psychology and Chair in Clinical Psychology, School of Health, Human and Social Sciences at CQUniversity Australia.  He is also Chair of the Disaster Reference Group of the Australian Psychological Society.  Kevin as a clinical psychologist who specialises in hazards and disasters, problems of youth and families (e.g., effects of disasters including trauma; conduct disorder; anxiety disorders; child maltreatment), schizophrenia, and program outcome evaluation.


He is senior author of a book called “Promoting Community Resilience to Disasters: The Role for Schools, Youth, and Families” (2005, Springer, New York).  As the title of this book would indicate, and along with many colleagues, one major part of his research program has focused on the role of youth, families, schools and other community networks in promoting community prevention and preparedness for disasters.  At the National Summit for Youth Preparedness in Washington DC in September 2010, hosted by FEMA and other US agencies linked to disaster preparedness and response, as the opening speaker to that Summit, he was referred to as a “pioneer” in this area of research and practice.  He is currently involved as the coordinating lead author, commissioned by the United Nations, of a Background Paper related to the 2015 Global Assessment Review led by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reducation (UNISDR). Over two decades in this area, he has many publications in different outlets (e.g., journals, books, conference proceedings, trade publications), including those focused on research, practice and theory.


In addition to work in the Prevention and Preparedness phase, his practice, research and policy advocacy also continues in the Response and Recovery phases.  After recent natural disasters in Australia, he has been involved with numerous psychosocial response and recovery efforts, in his role as Chair of the Australian Psychological Society’s (APS) Disaster Reference Group.   This has included work through partnerships the APS has with the Australian Red Cross and the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health.  It has also included local efforts.  One example is a new university psychology clinic that is part of a clinical psychology training program that he started and that offered free services for 2010-11 flood affected residents, underwritten through a partnership with a local Rotary group.  Another was spending a week in Bundaberg following the 2013 floods there, coordinating and working in tandem with other psychologists and with the Australian Red Cross.


In terms of policy advocacy, he was after the 2010-11 summer of disasters in Australia part of a submission to the Australian Senate on development and implementation of early warning systems for disasters, following up that submission in August 2011 with an invitation to provide evidence to the Senate.  This appearance included providing research-supported answers to questions alongside advocacy for evidence-based policy development in this critical area.  Another more recent submission in 2013 with colleagues from the APS addressed issues related to preparedness for extreme weather events. 


Finally, in addition to work in the disaster area, he also continues work in core clinical psychology areas.  This includes programmatic research in treatment outcome evaluation.  For example, he and his team at CQUniversity are now in the fifth year of a 5 year randomized controlled trial (RCT) for a new intervention for conduct disorder and youth offending, with the pilot study findings demonstrating a significant increase in prosocial behaviour, more cohesive family functioning, and, importantly, significantly reduced delinquent and offending behaviours as reported by the youth, by parents and through official offending data sources. One other area worth mention is he has developed and evaluated interventions for anxiety and trauma in children, youth, and families, including interventions following disaster and other traumatic events.  He is co-author of a 2010 book on a cognitive-behavioural intervention for trauma in relation to child and youth maltreatment.


Project leadership

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.

Year Type Citation
2017 Journal Article McNeill, I. M. & Ronan, K. Children in disasters: the role of household preparedness. Natural Hazards (2017). doi:10.1007/s1106
2017 Journal Article Westcott, R., Ronan, K., Bambrick, H. & Taylor, M. Expanding protection motivation theory: investigating an application to animal owners and emergency responders in bushfire emergencies. BMC Psychology 5, (2017).
2017 Journal Article Westcott, R., Ronan, K., Bambrick, H. & Taylor, M. "Don’t Just Do Something .. Stand There!" Emergency Responders’ Peri-Incident Perceptions of Animal Owners in Bushfire. Frontiers in Veterinary Science 4, (2017).
2016 Journal Article Ronan, K. et al. Child-centered disaster risk reduction: Can disaster resilience programs reduce risk and increase the resilience of children and households?. The Australian Journal of Emergency Management 31, (2016).
2016 Journal Article Lai, B. S., Alisic, E., Lewis, R. & Ronan, K. Approaches to the assessment of children in the context of disasters. Current Psychiatry Reports 18, (2016).
2016 Report Towers, B. et al. Disaster resilience education: A practice framework for Australian emergency management agencies. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2016 Journal Article Johnson, V., Ronan, K., Johnston, D. M. & Peace, R. Improving the Impact and Implementation of Disaster Education: Programs for Children Through Theory-Based Evaluation. Risk Analysis 36, 2120-2135 (2016).
2016 Journal Article Towers, B., Ronan, K. & Rashid, M. Child Health and Survival in a Changing Climate: Vulnerability, Mitigation, and Adaptation. Geographies of Children and Young People 8, (2016).
2016 Report Ronan, K. et al. Building best practice in child-centred disaster risk reduction: Annual project report 2015-2016. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2016 Conference Paper Ronan, K. & Towers, B. Evidence-based practice, practice-based evidence: moving towards scaled implementation in child-centred disaster risk reduction. AFAC16 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2015 Journal Article Ronan, K., Alisic, E., Towers, B., Johnson, V. & Johnston, D. M. Disaster preparedness for children and families: a critical review. Current Psychiatry Reports 17, (2015).
2015 Conference Paper Ronan, K. et al. Promoting Child Resilience to Disasters: Policy, Practice, Research Conference Paper 2014. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC Wellington Conference 2014 (2015).
2015 Report Ronan, K. & Towers, B. Child-Centred Disaster Risk Reduction Annual Report 2014. (2015).
2015 Journal Article Ronan, K. Progress made with school curricula, education material and relevant training in disaster risk reduction and recovery concepts and practices. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 30, (2015).
2015 Report Ronan, K. et al. Building best practice in child-centred disaster risk reduction: Annual project report 2014-2015. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2014 Journal Article Johnston, D. M., Standring, S. & Ronan, K. Children's understanding of natural hazards in Christchurch: reflecting on a 2003 study. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 29, 66 (2014).
2014 Journal Article Johnson, V., Johnston, D. M., Peace, R. & Ronan, K. Evaluating Children’s Learning of Adaptive Response Capacities from ShakeOut, an Earthquake and Tsunami Drill in Two Washington State School Districts. Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management 11, 347-373 (2014).
2014 Journal Article Johnson, V. & Ronan, K. Classroom responses of New Zealand school teachers following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. Natural Hazards 72, 1075-1092 (2014).
2014 Journal Article Webb, M. & Ronan, K. Interactive Hazards Education Program for Youth in a Low SES Community: A Quasi-Experimental Pilot Study. Risk Analysis 34, 1882-1893 (2014).
2014 Journal Article Johnson, V., Johnston, D. M., Peace, R. & Ronan, K. Implementing Disaster Preparedness education in New Zealand primary schools. Disaster Prevention and Management 23, 370-380 (2014).
2014 Journal Article Ronan, K. & Towers, B. Systems Education for a Sustainable Planet: Preparing Children for Natural Disasters. Systems 2, 1-23 (2014).
2014 Journal Article Johnson, V., Ronan, K., Johnston, D. M. & Peace, R. Evaluations of disaster education programs for children: a methodological review. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 9, 107-123 (2014).
2014 Journal Article Ronan, K. Solving wicked problems linked to disasters, risk and uncertainty: Children are truly our future. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 29, 8-9 (2014).

Posters credited

The role of children in disasters: A program of research

Children represent the most vulnerable demographic group in disasters.  

A cross cultural investigation of child-centred disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in Indonesia and Australia

There remains an assumption that children and young people are passive victims with no role to play in communicating risks or participating in risk reduction strategies. 

Child-centred disaster risk reduction: A longitudinal investigation of bushfire education

The aims of this research project are to establish an evidence-base for a effective, school-based bushfire education programs with children.

Risk Reduction and Resilience Education: Recommendations for Scaling Up. Views from Indonesia

Nearly one third of the world's population are children. However, much disaster management programming sees children as passive participants, leaving them out of the planning and decision making process.

Key Topics:
An Evidence-Based Practice Framework for Children's Disaster Education

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.

Children and Youth in Disasters: A Co-Produced Program of Research

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.

Child-Centred Disaster Risk Reduction: Achievements, Challenges, and Scope

Child centred-disaster risk reduction (CC-DRR) is  defined as disaster risk reduction measures for and with children, involving children, parents, communities, service providers and governments (Unicef, 2014). Emerging as a distinct approach to disaster risk reduction over the last several years, CC-DRR advocates a shift from seeing children as passive victims to seeing them as agents of change for their own well-being and the development of their communities (Benson & Bugge, 2007).

The Interactions Between Emergency Responders and Animal Owners in Bushfire: Improving Community Preparedness and Response Outcomes

The purpose of this study is to develop best practice methods for preparedness and response practices in a bushfire hazard, with the aim of enhancing community well-being and safety. Effective collaboration between animal owners, emergency responders and the whole of community could be one way to narrow the gap between hazard awareness and hazard survival. 

Key Topics:
Kevin Ronan Conference Poster 2016

The national strategy for disaster resilience recognises disaster resilience education (DRE) as a priority.

Key Topics:
Ilona McNeill Conference Poster 2016

Children form a vulnerable demographic in both the response and recovery phases of natural disasters

Key Topics:


Resources credited

Type Released Title Download Key Topics
Presentation-Slideshow 27 Mar 2014 Building best practice in child-centred disaster risk reduction Save (570.26 KB) child-centred, communities, risk management
Presentation-Slideshow 08 Sep 2014 Building best practice in child-centred disaster risk reduction Save (586.58 KB) child-centred, risk analysis
Presentation-Audio-Video 27 Oct 2014 Building best practice in child-centred disaster risk reduction child-centred, emergency management
Presentation-Audio-Video 14 Dec 2014 Child-centred disaster risk reduction Save (0 bytes) child-centred, communication, risk management
Presentation-Slideshow 10 Apr 2015 Child-centred Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 NSW RAF Presentation Save (1.35 MB) child-centred, risk analysis
HazardNoteEdition 21 Oct 2015 Turning warnings into action Save (236.32 KB) animals, communication, tsunami
Presentation-Slideshow 17 May 2016 Building best practice in Child-centred Disaster Risk Reduction: utilisation as the royal road Save (1.6 MB) child-centred, multi-hazard, risk management
Presentation-Slideshow 30 Aug 2016 Moving towards scaled implementation of effective child-centred disaster risk reduction initiatives - Kevin Ronan Save (2.96 MB) child-centred, communication, education
Presentation-Slideshow 18 Apr 2017 Building Best Practice in Child-centred Disaster Risk Reduction Save (2.13 MB) child-centred, communication, risk management
Presentation-Slideshow 07 Jul 2017 Communicating and warning: getting the message across more effectively Save (4.79 MB)

All the resources from our 2016 conference

Research program in detail

Where, why and how are Australians dying in floods?

2015-2016 year in review

Bushfire planning with kids ebook