End User representatives
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.
This research is already supporting bushfire education for primary school students, with the New South Wales Rural Fire Service utilising findings, along with the knowledge, skills and experience of researchers to develop a bushfire education kit. The ‘Guide to Working with School Communities’ has been rolled out to all schools through the NSW Rural Fire Service. This places primary schools students front and centre in state-wide bushfire plans, based on the research identifying the importance of involving children in active bushfire preparations for the benefit of the whole community.
The Guide follows the earlier publication of an ebook, available nationally, and based on the same principles that if you educate children on hazards safety, their families and the wider community will also benefit.
This line of research has provided fundamental insight into how children learn about bushfires and how they share those learnings with their families. Collaboration with the NSW Rural Fire Service is continuing, and the team will evaluate the guide over upcoming fire seasons to gather data to measure its impact on community safety over successive seasons.
Collaboration is at the heart of the research at every stage, with researchers and end-users involved in all aspects of the study, from undertaking the research to developing utilisation plans and writing journal papers. This collaboration will produce enhanced benefits when the research reaches maturity and is embedded across the country. Utilisation will include developing best practice guidelines and appropriate training.
The project has been highly active on the international scene, with Prof Kevin Ronan representing the CRC on the United Nations Integrated Research on Disaster Risk committee, as well as presenting at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, in 2015, and the 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Cancun, Mexico. Prof Ronan is also assisting in the development of a science and technology research plan to support the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, 2015-2030. Researcher Dr Briony Towers has also contributed to a World Vision project to deploy the Lumkani fire detector device to slums in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her ongoing children’s bushfire education research was selected by the UNISDR Scientific and Technical Advisory Group as a best practice case study.
Children represent the most vulnerable demographic group in disasters.
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.
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 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.
The national strategy for disaster resilience recognises disaster resilience education (DRE) as a priority.
Children form a vulnerable demographic in both the response and recovery phases of natural disasters
Child-centred disaster risk reduction (CC-DRR) is a flexible, rights-based, innovative approach to disaster risk reduction (DRR) combining child-focused (for the children) and child-led (by the children) activities involving children, families, communities, non governmental organisations, emergency management agencies and governments (UNICEF, 2014; PLANUK, 2010; Save the Children, 2007).
Can children be agents of change through school-based education?
Disaster resilience education for children and young people has been identified as a key mechanism for reducing disaster risk and increasing resilience. This practice framework aims to provide Australian emergency management agencies with a strategic, evidence-based approach to the development of disaster resilience educationi programs that build the capacity of children and young people to become agents of change in their households, schools and communities.
|Enhancing remote north Australian community resilience||Adj Prof Jeremy Russell-Smith||Charles Darwin University|
|Northern Australian bushfire and natural hazard training||Steve Sutton||Charles Darwin University|