Research leader

Associate Prof Chris Bearman
A/Prof Chris Bearman Research Leader

Research team

A/Prof Benjamin Brooks Research Team
Dr Christine Owen
A/Prof Christine Owen Research Team
Dr Steven Curnin Research Team
Dr Peter Hayes
Peter Hayes Research Team

End User representatives

Heather Stuart
Heather Stuart End-User
Sandra Whight End-User
Geoff Kaandorp End-User
Phil Robeson End-User
Alen Slijepcevic
Mark Swiney
Mark Swiney End-User
Mike Grant
Mike Grant End-User
John Santiago End-User
Mike Wouters
Mike Wouters End-User
Mark Thomason End-User
Rob McNeil End-User

Each year Australian emergency management organisations coordinate the response to thousands of emergency events. While a successful outcome is achieved in the vast majority of these events, notable and ongoing concerns are being raised as to how well some of the emergency management teams have functioned.  Often the problems are not based on technical skills (such as the use of equipment) but on the non-technical skills, such as: communication, coordination, situation awareness, and decision making. In addition, skills such as creativity and divergent thinking may be important in helping people to manage ever more complex emergencies. This project seeks to develop simple practical tools that can help people to better manage their teamwork, improve their decision making and develop more creative solutions.  In addition to developing these tools this project also considers how organisations utilise the outcomes of research.  Application of research in support of organisational learning is critical not just for organisational growth, competitiveness and sustainability but also for wide-scale industry development, community and economic well-being. However, maximising organisational learning from research often falls short. As part of this project the research team developed a tool to help agencies to utilise research more effectively.

A number of tools were developed to help people to better manage their teamwork and decision making. These tools include:

In addition to creating tools that help better manage teams and make more effective decisions, members of the project team have also developed methods to help people to act more creatively during operations (such as stretch thinking loops for team decision making). To help end-users to diagnose their capacity to utilise research a self-assessment tool was developed (known as the self-assessment research utilisation maturity matrix or RUMM). This tool can be used by practitioners to identify steps needed to move along the path towards research implementation.

Read the final report here.

Year Type Citation
2021 Report Bearman, C. & Hayes, P. Embedding non-technical skills as part of core business in emergency management - Final project report Part A. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2021).
2020 Journal Article Bearman, C., Butler, P. & Owen, C. Non‐technical skills for emergency incident management teams: A literature review. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management (2020). doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-5973.12341
2020 Journal Article Owen, C., Krusel, N. & Bethune, L. Implementing research to support disaster risk reduction. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 35, 54-61 (2020).
2020 Journal Article Curnin, S., Brooks, B. & Owen, C. A case study of disaster decision‐making in the presence of anomalies and absence of recognition. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management (2020). doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-5973.12290
2020 Journal Article Hayes, P., Bearman, C., Thomason, M. & Bremner, P. A. Staying on task: a tool to help state and regional-level emergency management teams. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 35, 38-44 (2020).
2020 Journal Article Brooks, B. & Curnin, S. Stretch‐Thinking Loops: A New Technique for Scenario Planning. Risk, Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy (2020). doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/rhc3.12205
2020 Report Brooks, B. & Curnin, S. Follow up of study participants: brain plasticity and divergent thinking. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2020).
2020 Report Bearman, C. et al. Improving decision making, teamwork and organisational learning in emergency management – final project report. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2020).
2020 Report Brooks, B. & Curnin, S. Utilisation funding: South Australia stretch thinking project. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2020).
2020 Report Bearman, C., Brooks, B., Owen, C. & Curnin, S. Using the human centred design method to develop tools for non-technical skills in emergency management. (Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC, 2020).
2020 Report Bearman, C. et al. Decision making, team monitoring & organisational learning in emergency management annual report 2018-2019. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2020).
2019 Conference Paper Hayes, P., Karanasios, S., Cooper, V. & Poblet, M. Joining the dots: using social media to connect with more vulnerable Victorians during emergencies. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC Research Day AFAC19 (2019). at <https://knowledge.aidr.org.au/resources/australian-journal-of-emergency-management-monograph-series/>
2019 Journal Article Brooks, B., Curnin, S., Owen, C. & Bearman, C. Managing cognitive biases during disaster response: the development of an aide memoire. Cognition, Technology & Work 1-13 (2019). doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10111-019-00564-5
2019 Journal Article Curnin, S. & O'Hara, D. Nonprofit and public sector interorganizational collaboration in disaster recovery: Lessons from the field. Nonprofit Management & Leadership 30, 277-297 (2019).
2019 Journal Article Brooks, B., Curnin, S., Owen, C. & Boldeman, J. New human capabilities in emergency and crisis management: From non-technical skills to creativity. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 34, (2019).
2019 Report Brooks, B. & Curnin, S. Evaluation of pre-intervention data: divergent thinking and brain plasticity. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2019).
2018 Journal Article Owen, C., Hayes, P., Brooks, B., Scott, C. & Conway, G. Identifying the evidence to support incident management team capability. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 33, 44-49 (2018).
2018 Journal Article Curnin, S. Collaboration in disasters: A cultural challenge for the utilities sector. Utilities Policy 54, (2018).
2018 Journal Article Owen, C., Hayes, P., Brooks, B., Scott, C. & Conway, G. Evidence to support incident management team capability. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 33, 5 (2018).
2018 Journal Article Owen, C., Brooks, B., Curnin, S. & Bearman, C. Enhancing learning in emergency services organisational work. Australian Journal of Public Administration (2018). doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8500.12309
2018 Journal Article Owen, C. How emergency services organisations can – and do – utilise research. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 33, (2018).
2018 Journal Article Brooks, B., Curnin, S., Bearman, C. & Owen, C. Human error during the multilevel responses to three Australian bushfire disasters. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management 26, (2018).
2018 Journal Article Bearman, C., Rainbird, S., Brooks, B., Owen, C. & Curnin, S. A literature review of methods for providing enhanced operational oversight of teams in emergency management. International Journal of Emergency Management 14, (2018).
2018 Report Owen, C. Opportunities and constraints identified in existing frameworks in use for organisational learning. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2018).
2018 Report Bearman, C., Brooks, B., Owen, C., Curnin, S. & Stuart, H. Decision making, team monitoring and organisational learning in emergency management: annual project report 2017-18. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2018).
2017 Conference Paper Brooks, B., Curnin, S., Bearman, C. & Owen, C. Identifying lessons from exercising and training for emergency management decision-making. AFAC17 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2017 Conference Paper Rumsewicz, M. Research proceedings from the 2017 Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC Conference. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC annual conference 2017 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2017 Conference Paper Bearman, C., Rainbird, S., Owen, C., Brooks, B. & Curnin, S. Enhancing team performance. AFAC17 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2017 Journal Article Grunwald, J. & Bearman, C. Identifying and resolving coordinated decision making breakdowns in emergency management. International Journal of Emergency Management 13, (2017).
2017 Journal Article Bearman, C., Grunwald, J., Brooks, B. & Owen, C. Tools for monitoring teams in emergency management: EMBAM and TBM. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 32, (2017).
2017 Journal Article Owen, C., Krusel, N., Bearman, C. & Brooks, B. From research outcome to agency change: mapping a learning trajectory of opportunities and challenges. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 32, (2017).
2017 Report Bearman, C. et al. Decision making, team monitoring and organisational learning in emergency management: annual project report 2016-17. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2016 Journal Article Brooks, B., Curnin, S., Bearman, C., Owen, C. & Rainbird, S. An assessment of the opportunities to improve strategic decision-making in emergency and disaster management. Australian Journal of Emergency Management (2016). at <https://knowledge.aidr.org.au/resources/ajem-oct-2016-an-assessment-of-the-opportunities-to-improve-strategic-decision-making-in-emergency-and-disaster-management/>
2016 Journal Article Owen, C., Brooks, B., Bearman, C. & Curnin, S. Values and complexities in assessing strategic-level emergency management effectiveness. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management 24, 181-190 (2016).
2016 Journal Article Bearman, C. & Bremner, P. A. Don't just do something, stand there! Mitigating goal seduction in emergency management. National Emergency Response 29, 12-17 (2016).
2016 Journal Article Bosomworth, K., Owen, C. & Curnin, S. Addressing challenges for future strategic-level emergency management: reframing, networking and capacity building. Disasters 41, 306-323 (2016).
2016 Report Bearman, C. et al. Decision making, team monitoring and organisational learning in emergency management: Annual project report 2015-2016. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2016 Report Bearman, C., Rainbird, S., Brooks, B. & Owen, C. Proposed tools for monitoring teams in emergency management. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2015 Conference Paper Owen, C., Brooks, B. & Bearman, C. Challenges of Measuring Emergency Management Performance Under Adversity: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Conference Paper 2014. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC Wellington Conference 2014 (2015).
2015 Journal Article Bhandari, R., Owen, C. & Trist, C. Incident Management Approaches above the Incident Management Team Level in Australia. Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management 12, 101-119 (2015).
2015 Journal Article Bearman, C., Grunwald, J., Brooks, B. & Owen, C. Breakdowns in coordinated decision making at and above the incident management team level: An analysis of three large scale Australian wildfires. Applied Ergonomics 47, 16-25 (2015).
2015 Journal Article Owen, C., Scott, C., Adams, R. & Parsons, D. Leadership in crisis: developing beyond command and control. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 30, (2015).
2015 Report Brooks, B. & Curnin, S. Decision making, team monitoring and organisational performance: Part two decision making research stream. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2015 Report Bearman, C. et al. Decision making, team monitoring and organisational performance: Part One Executive Summary. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2015 Report Bearman, C. et al. Practical decision tools for improved decision-making in complex, time-constrained and multi-team environments: Annual project report 2014-2015. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2015 Report Owen, C. Decision making, team monitoring and organisational performance: Part four organisational performance research stream. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2015 Report Bearman, C., Brooks, B. & Owen, C. Practical Decision Tools for Improved Decision-Making in Complex Situations Annual Report 2014. (2015).
2015 Report Bearman, C. Decision making, team monitoring and organisational performance: Part three team performance monitoring research stream. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
Date Title Download Key Topics
07 Aug 2014 Incidents - Decision Making in Teams PDF icon 3.53 MB (3.53 MB) decision making
08 Sep 2014 Challenges of measuring emergency management performance under adversity PDF icon 1.69 MB (1.69 MB) decision making
20 Oct 2014 Measuring EM performance under adversity: The good, the bad, the ugly capability, emergency management
10 Apr 2015 Decision Making 2015 NSW RAF Presentation PDF icon 1.98 MB (1.98 MB) decision making, education
17 May 2016 Decision making, team monitoring and organisational learning PDF icon 1.79 MB (1.79 MB) communication, decision making, multi-hazard
30 Aug 2016 Transforming the decision-making capabilities of leaders in emergency management - Ben Brooks PDF icon 1.04 MB (1.04 MB) capability, decision making, emergency management
30 Aug 2016 Team monitoring tools - Chris Bearman PDF icon 674.21 KB (674.21 KB) capability, decision making, emergency management
27 Oct 2016 Practical decision tools for improved decision-making - project overview File 0 bytes (0 bytes) decision making, emergency management, multi-hazard
27 Feb 2017 Fire Australia Issue One 2017 PDF icon 5.79 MB (5.79 MB) child-centred, fire severity, resilience
18 Apr 2017 Team monitoring, decision making & organisational learning PDF icon 1.33 MB (1.33 MB) decision making, emergency management
23 Jun 2017 Tools to enhance emergency management team performance PDF icon 568.01 KB (568.01 KB) decision making, emergency management, multi-hazard
28 Jun 2017 Helping agencies learn from experience PDF icon 656.75 KB (656.75 KB) decision making, education, risk management
07 Jul 2017 Enhancing capability in emergency management PDF icon 1.15 MB (1.15 MB) capability, decision making, emergency management
07 Jul 2017 Improving decision-making in complex multi-team environments case study - Jeremy Smith File 0 bytes (0 bytes) decision making, emergency management
07 Sep 2017 Enhancing teamwork PDF icon 349.78 KB (349.78 KB) capability, decision making, emergency management
07 Sep 2017 Identifying lessons from exercising and training for strategic emergency management decision-making PDF icon 512.17 KB (512.17 KB) capability, decision making, emergency management
16 Apr 2018 Team monitoring, decision making & organisational learning PDF icon 1.41 MB (1.41 MB) decision making, emergency management
23 Apr 2018 Dr Steven Curnin - early career researcher entry 2018 File 0 bytes (0 bytes) capability, decision making, emergency management
23 Apr 2018 How organisations can - and do – utilise research PDF icon 1.47 MB (1.47 MB) decision making, emergency management
16 May 2018 Emergency Management Breakdown Aide Memoire PDF icon 94.2 KB (94.2 KB) communication, decision making, emergency management
16 May 2018 Team Process Checklist PDF icon 105.77 KB (105.77 KB) communication, decision making, emergency management
01 Jun 2018 Fire Australia Issue Two 2018 PDF icon 6.73 MB (6.73 MB) communities, decision making, emergency management
12 Jun 2018 Heather Stuart from NSW SES discusses the benefits of organisational learning in IMT's File 0 bytes (0 bytes) communication, decision making, emergency management
12 Jun 2018 Assistant Commissioner Rob McNeil draws on his experiences making critical decisions in periods of high stress. File 0 bytes (0 bytes) communication, decision making, emergency management
04 Oct 2018 How to use the team monitoring tools PDF icon 102.15 KB (102.15 KB) communication, decision making
08 May 2019 Improving decision making in complex multi team environments RAF May 19 PDF icon 116.91 KB (116.91 KB) decision making, environments
18 Jun 2019 Non - Technical Skills PDF icon 798.67 KB (798.67 KB) decision making, environments, response
27 Aug 2019 Joining the dots: Using social media to connect with more vulnerable Victorians during emergencies PDF icon 1.23 MB (1.23 MB) decision making
27 Aug 2019 Staying on task: A tool to help state and regional-level incident management teams PDF icon 1.13 MB (1.13 MB) decision making
24 Sep 2019 Accountability in research utilization. What are we all juggling? PDF icon 1.91 MB (1.91 MB) decision making
20 Feb 2020 Lista de comprobación del proceso de equipo PDF icon 101.66 KB (101.66 KB) communication, decision making, emergency management
21 May 2020 Cognitive Bias Aide Memoire PDF icon 147.31 KB (147.31 KB) communication, decision making, emergency management
21 May 2020 Psychological Safety Checklist PDF icon 151.59 KB (151.59 KB) communication, decision making, emergency management
22 May 2020 Creating psychologically safe teams and managing cognitive bias in strategic decision making PDF icon 449.62 KB (449.62 KB) decision making, emergency management, scenario analysis
17 Aug 2020 Project information sheet for survey: assessing capability in research utilisation PDF icon 198.08 KB (198.08 KB)
05 Nov 2020 Closing the gap between research and practice PDF icon 155.94 KB (155.94 KB) capability, decision making, emergency management
25 Nov 2020 Complex decision making and teamwork when the heat is on decision making, emergency management, response
13 Apr 2021 Emergency Management Non-Technical Skills PDF icon 458.74 KB (458.74 KB) decision making, emergency management, multi-hazard
13 Apr 2021 Key Tasks Cognitive Aid PDF icon 187.99 KB (187.99 KB) decision making, emergency management, scenario analysis
19 Apr 2021 Supporting emergency management team performance during emergencies PDF icon 684.82 KB (684.82 KB) decision making, emergency management, multi-hazard
19 Apr 2021 Improving emergency management teamwork using non-technical skills PDF icon 662.1 KB (662.1 KB) decision making, emergency management, scenario analysis
17 May 2021 Fire Australia Issue Two 2021 PDF icon 11.74 MB (11.74 MB) capability, emergency management, Northern Australia
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