Steve Sutton

Researcher
About
Steve Sutton

Steve’s PhD thesis examines the components of the socio-cultural context of the Indonesian island, Simeulue, which had remarkably low level of fatalities during the Indian Ocean Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. “Simeulue, 150 km off the coast of Sumatra, was the first location struck by the tsunami but reportedly lost only a handful of lives,” Steve said. “In neighbouring Sumatra three per cent of the population died.”

With a background in archaeology and Indigenous heritage, Steve’s research is investigating the social and environmental factors that led to such an outcome. “Most research into disaster risk reduction focuses on the losses arising from bushfires and natural hazards and how to avoid similar losses in the future. Very little research considers situations where losses have been avoided by effective practices. The really compelling thing about the story of Simeulue is the way the entire community responded to the disaster. I want to understand why this particular community prepared and what, if any, were the environmental or cultural signs,” Steve said.

The key factors that contributed to the disaster response behaviour will then be considered in Australian cultural settings with a view to improving risk communication and community resilience. Steve has been a great ambassador for the CRC, receiving the CRC Special Recognition Award in 2017. He has presented his PhD findings at the CRC’s Research Forum in 2016 and 2017, and in addition to his PhD, has led the CRC project Northern Australia bushfire and natural hazard training, creating training units that have been developed specifically for the needs of remote northern communities that are sensitive to language and cultural variations and draw upon local knowledge and contexts.

Project leadership

This project, now in its utilisation phase, has developed a training program that builds on the current assets in place, such as the ranger programs, and leads to increasing levels of competence and confidence and in its turn, resilience. The project is a response to north Australian stakeholder concerns that existing training is inadequate for their needs.
Research team:

Student project

This thesis examines the components of the socio-cultural context of an Indonesian island community that reportedly led to a remarkably low level of casualties during the Indian Ocean Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. Various elements of the social context of the Simeulue Island community are being assessed for their contribution to disaster response behaviour, potentially including community participation, collective efficacy, empowerment and trust as well as the maintenance of traditional disaster response knowledge. The key factors that contributed to the disaster response behaviour will then be considered in Australian cultural settings with a view to improving risk communication and community resilience.
Supervisory panel:
27 Aug 2019
In order to change a culture you must first understand it. Lessons for for community engagement...
27 Aug 2019
Natural hazard response efforts are increasingly reliant on broadcast warnings by agencies. While...
Training as Research and Research as Training in remote north Australia
19 Sep 2018
The ‘BNH Training for Remote Communities’ was initially perceived as training for ranger group...
Steve Sutton Conference Poster 2016
12 Aug 2016
This project is about what went right –a disaster where the whole community responded in exactly...
Cultural Drivers of Disaster Risk Reduction Behaviour
11 Sep 2015
This project examines the case study of Simeulue Island - A  rare example of an entire community...
Learning Together: Cross Cultural Emergency Management Training for Northern Australia
18 Aug 2015
This project develops BNH Training built on learnings from BNHCRC research and tailored to North...

Resources credited

Type Released Title Download Key Topics
Presentation-Slideshow 27 Aug 2019 Are we future-ready? PDF icon Save (3.79 MB) Northern Australia
Presentation-Slideshow 08 May 2019 Northern Australia bushfire and natural hazard training RAF May 2019 PDF icon Save (472.25 KB) Northern Australia
Presentation-Audio-Video 07 Sep 2018 AFAC18 - Continuing the conversation: Community File Save (0 bytes) communities, indigenous communities
HazardNoteEdition 30 Aug 2018 Remote Indigenous communities welcome two-way training PDF icon Save (1.98 MB) indigenous communities, Northern Australia, resilience
Presentation-Slideshow 29 Jun 2018 Indigenous cultures in the north PDF icon Save (954.79 KB) fire, Northern Australia, savanna grasslands
Presentation-Slideshow 17 Apr 2018 How can we Deliver Training to Build north Australian Community Resilience? PDF icon Save (1.38 MB) indigenous communities, Northern Australia, resilience
Presentation-Slideshow 07 Jul 2017 Building community resilience in remote north Australia PDF icon Save (5.37 MB) communities, indigenous communities, Northern Australia
Presentation-Slideshow 18 Apr 2017 North Australian Bushfire and Natural Hazard Training PDF icon Save (2.18 MB) communities, indigenous communities, local knowledge
Presentation-Slideshow 30 Aug 2016 How do island communities balance disaster resilience and what can mainlanders learn from that? - Stephen Sutton PDF icon Save (2.63 MB) communities, indigenous communities, tsunami
HazardNoteEdition 14 Jun 2016 What is disaster resilience and how can it be measured? PDF icon Save (373.58 KB) communities, indigenous communities, resilience
Presentation-Slideshow 17 May 2016 North Australian bushfire and natural hazard training PDF icon Save (2.01 MB) fire, local knowledge, Northern Australia
Presentation-Audio-Video 22 Mar 2016 Northern Australia bushfire and natural hazard training - project overview File Save (0 bytes) multi-hazard, Northern Australia, risk management
14 Oct 2015 Stephen Sutton PhD Progress Report 2015 PDF icon Save (66.05 KB)
Presentation-Slideshow 03 Jul 2015 North Australian Bushfire and Natural Hazard Training PDF icon Save (1.29 MB) fire, multi-hazard
Presentation-Slideshow 10 Apr 2015 North Australian Bushfire and Natural Hazard Training 2015 NSW RAF Presentation PDF icon Save (3.01 MB) multi-hazard, Northern Australia, planning
Presentation-Slideshow 21 Mar 2014 Fire management training for northern Australia PDF icon Save (1.22 MB) fire, indigenous communities, Northern Australia

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