Rachel Westcott

Dr Rachel Westcott

Completed PhD student
Dr Rachel Westcott

Dr Rachel Westcott’s PhD discovered and recommend proactive strategies to strengthen and improve human safety and well-being in a changing climate of natural hazards.

Rachel investigated and developed best practice methods for preparedness and response practices in a bushfire – all aimed at making fire preparedness part of everyday life for those who live in at-risk areas. This normalising of preparedness makes becoming ‘fire fit’ a normal routine. Rachel undertook extensive interviews on the Lower Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, a location with a recent history of severe bushfires and a resourceful regional community.

Rachel presented her research findings at many industry events during her PhD, including a Three Minute Thesis at the CRC’s Research Driving Change – Showcase 2017, as well as speaking on ABC Local Radio across Australia. She has also written a Hazard Note that outlines the practical processes and strategies behind fire-fitness, assisting people to safely negotiate natural hazards in an increasingly climate change affected environment by making fire-fitness routine and commonplace.

As a veterinarian, Rachel has had an avid interest in the ways animals are handled during a disaster and she participated in many aspects of the broader CRC project, Managing animals in disasters. In 2015, Rachel was recognised for her work with a Pride of Australia award after SA’s Sampson Flat bushfire when her and her SA Veterinary Emergency Management team helped save and manage hundreds of animals during the fire.

Rachel currently runs her own business, Engine Room Solutions, which has research, emergency management and publishing divisions – with a focus
on publishing PhD student papers – as well as running her own veterinary practice in the Adelaide Hills. She also coordinates the SA Veterinary Emergency Management team which she founded in 2009.

Student project

This study developed best practice methods for preparedness and response practices in a bushfire, with the aim of enhancing community well-being and safety.
Supervisory panel:
31 Aug 2020
Key findings: Easily achievable fire-fitness strategies normalise preparedness to become a routine...
FUELS ain’t FUELS! Crops, “conservation farming” and cropland fires
18 Sep 2018
"Firebreaks and spraying fence lines mightn’t stop the fire but give you something to burn back to...
Bushfire preparedness: how to become 'fire-fit' without really noticing
29 Jun 2017
Narrowing the awareness-action gap: cultivating a culture of routine all-hazards preparedness...
The Interactions Between Emergency Responders and Animal Owners in Bushfire: Improving Community Preparedness and Response Outcomes
18 Aug 2015
The purpose of this study is to develop best practice methods for preparedness and response...

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