Research leader

Dr Briony Towers Research Leader

Research team

Dr Katharine Haynes Research Team
Prof Kevin Ronan Research Team
Susan Davie
Susan Davie Research Team
Dr Marla Petal Research Team
Nick Ireland Research Team
Prof John Handmer
Prof John Handmer Research Team
Prof David Johnston
Prof David Johnston Research Team
Prof Annette Gough Research Team
Belinda Davis Research Team
A/Prof Eva Alisic Research Team
Emma Davis Research Team

End User representatives

Matthew Henry End-User
Fiona Dunstan
Fiona Dunstan End-User
Sarah Anderson End-User
Tony Jarrett End-User
Conrad Walsh End-User
Brigid Little End-User
Bruno Greimel End-User
John Richardson
John Richardson End-User
Antonia Mackay End-User
Susan Davie
Susan Davie End-User
Tamsin Achilles End-User
Peta O'Donohue End-User
Mandy Moore End-User
Sandra Barber
Sandra Barber End-User
Lucy Saaroni End-User

Student researchers

Avianto Amri Student Reseacher
Mayeda Rashid Student Reseacher
Andrew Clarke
Andrew Clarke Student Reseacher
Revathi Nuggehalli Krishna Student Reseacher
Matthew Henry Student Reseacher
Tony Jarrett Student Reseacher

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.

Year Type Citation
2019 Report Towers, B., Perillo, S. & Ronan, K. The disaster resilience project: a school-based feasibility and acceptability study. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2019).
2018 Journal Article Kelly, B. & Ronan, K. Preparedness for natural hazards: testing an expanded education- and engagement-enhanced social cognitive model. Natural Hazards 91, 19-35 (2018).
2018 Journal Article Towers, B. & Whyrbo, M. A formative evaluation of the Triple Zero Kids’ Challenge Teacher’s Guide. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 33, 6 (2018).
2018 Report Towers, B. & Ronan, K. Evaluation of Survive and Thrive. 94 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2018).
2017 Conference Paper Jarrett, T. An organisational response to Stage 3 Geography and the study of a contemporary bushfire event. AFAC17 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 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).
2017 Journal Article McNeill, I. M. & Ronan, K. Children in disasters: the role of household preparedness. Natural Hazards (2017). doi:10.1007/s1106
2016 Book Chapter Rashid, M., Ronan, K. & Towers, B. Education in Times of Environmental Crisis: Teaching Children to be Agents of Change (Routledge, 2016).
2016 Conference Paper Rumsewicz, M. Research proceedings from the 2016 Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC conference. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC annual conference 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).
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 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 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 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).
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 Journal Article Towers, B. Children’s knowledge of bushfire emergency response. International Journal of Wildland Fire 24, 179-189 (2015).
2015 Journal Article Handmer, J. & Towers, B. Progress made with public awareness-raising activities aimed at building both rural and urban disaster resilience. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 30, (2015).
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 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. & Towers, B. Child-Centred Disaster Risk Reduction Annual Report 2014. (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 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).
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).
Date Title Download Key Topics
27 Mar 2014 Building best practice in child-centred disaster risk reduction PDF icon 570.26 KB (570.26 KB) child-centred, communities, risk management
08 Sep 2014 Building best practice in child-centred disaster risk reduction PDF icon 586.58 KB (586.58 KB) child-centred, risk analysis
27 Oct 2014 Building best practice in child-centred disaster risk reduction child-centred, emergency management
14 Dec 2014 Child-centred disaster risk reduction File 0 bytes (0 bytes) child-centred, communication, risk management
15 Jan 2015 Fire Australia Summer 2014-15 PDF icon 10.47 MB (10.47 MB) child-centred, communities, multi-hazard
10 Apr 2015 Child-centred Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 NSW RAF Presentation PDF icon 1.35 MB (1.35 MB) child-centred, risk analysis
01 Jul 2015 Fire Australia Winter 2015 PDF icon 4.24 MB (4.24 MB) coastal, earthquake, severe weather
21 Oct 2015 Turning warnings into action PDF icon 236.32 KB (236.32 KB) communication, tsunami, warnings
17 May 2016 Building best practice in Child-centred Disaster Risk Reduction: utilisation as the royal road PDF icon 1.6 MB (1.6 MB) child-centred, multi-hazard, risk management
30 Aug 2016 Moving towards scaled implementation of effective child-centred disaster risk reduction initiatives - Kevin Ronan PDF icon 2.96 MB (2.96 MB) child-centred, communication, education
28 Oct 2016 Child-centred disaster risk reduction - project overview File 0 bytes (0 bytes) child-centred, communities, education
27 Feb 2017 Fire Australia Issue One 2017 PDF icon 5.79 MB (5.79 MB) child-centred, fire severity, resilience
18 Apr 2017 Building Best Practice in Child-centred Disaster Risk Reduction PDF icon 2.13 MB (2.13 MB) child-centred, communication, risk management
07 Jul 2017 Communicating and warning: getting the message across more effectively PDF icon 4.79 MB (4.79 MB) communication, flood, warnings
31 Aug 2017 Fire Australia Issue Three 2017 PDF icon 5.22 MB (5.22 MB) child-centred, prescribed burning, severe weather
16 Apr 2018 Building best practice in child-centred disaster risk reduction PDF icon 2.54 MB (2.54 MB) child-centred, emergency management, risk management
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