Published works

Published works

Northern Australia bushfire and natural hazard training: Annual project report 2015-2016

TitleNorthern Australia bushfire and natural hazard training: Annual project report 2015-2016
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsSutton, S
Document Number230
Date Published09/2016
InstitutionBushfire and Natural Hazards CRC
Report Number230

This report outlines progress in the North Australian Fire and Natural Hazard Training project.  The project is part of a program of action research projects based at Charles Darwin University entitled “Building Community Resilience in Northern Australia”.  This program includes both physical and social science research into natural and cultural processes that impact upon the vulnerability and resilience of remote north Australian communities. 

The Building Community Resilience in Northern Australia program has a strong focus of participatory action research to encourage and enhance existing nodes of capability and excellence.  The most prominent of these for fire and emergency management are remote Aboriginal Ranger groups.  These groups have grown substantially in the last decade and have built a solid base of capacity by ensuring skills, knowledge and qualifications in relevant fields.  In contrast to the more widely reported ‘deficit’ model of remote communities,  communities with Ranger groups are moving to develop the social infrastructure that underpins disaster resilience; employment, social networks and communication.

The North Australian Fire and Natural Hazard Training project aims to provide a ‘next-generation’ training program that builds on these current assets in the north 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.

The project was late to start, but has now completed 10 new training units and will ready for pilot delivery in 2016-17.  In keeping with the participatory mode for the wider project in which the training project sits, ARPNet has been engaged to document critical local fire management knowledge and to facilitate workshops on traditional leadership as it relates to emergency management.

A key focus of the new training units is the development of a didactic approach to building an understanding of the differing world views about fire and emergency management and the ways these affect preparation and response, particularly to bushfires, but also other natural hazards. This is intended to build on existing knowledge of participants and lead to an understanding of the material rather than a more limited ‘knowledge’ of the subject matter. The incorporation of detailed local traditional knowledge regarding the management objectives and practices for different landscape units is crucial to instilling this deep understanding of fire and natural hazard management in a way that can be used effectively at a local level.

The project has made presentations to the Adelaide AFAC/BNHCRC conference, and the Research Advisory Forum in Hobart.

Four workshops involving Project team, experienced trainers and professionals working in the multitude of BNH related disciplines and Indigenous practitioners have been held in Darwin and other locations in the Top End. These have focused on deepening and fine tuning the content of particular units.


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