Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC
In late 2013, the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre was launched at Parliament House, Canberra, with high expectations and widespread support.
The Minister for Justice, the Hon Michael Keenan declared that the new $130 million research centre would draw together all of Australasia’s fire and emergency service authorities with the nation’s leading experts across a wide range of scientific fields to explore the causes, consequences and mitigation of natural disasters.
In July 2017, the CRC and its partners gathered in Adelaide for Research Driving Change – Showcase 2017. That event celebrated the achievements of the first four years, and acknowledging the many practical uses of the research; by CRC partners and by others.
Here in one place are the highlights and achievements of the CRC to date - as well as a review of 2017-2018 - activities that aim to save lives and reduce disaster-related costs.
Our vision is to be the preferred and trusted source of research and knowledge in bushfire and natural hazards.
The CRC is conducting research to build a disaster-resilient Australia.
The CRC coordinates a national research effort in hazards, including bushfires, flood, storm, cyclone, heatwave, earthquake and tsunami.
The research program has been developed and delivered under the direction of the researchers and end-user agencies.
Now in our fifth year of operation, researchers and end-user partners are working closely together
to ensure that the research is embedded into the planning, policies and operations of partner organisations, and into the development of new research projects.
The CRC draws together all of Australia and New Zealand’s fire and emergency service authorities with
the leading experts across a range of scientific fields to explore the causes, consequences and mitigation of natural disasters. This combined effort is helping to build disaster resilient communities.
The CRC conducts a multi-disciplinary research program on the major national issues across the natural hazards spectrum. The CRC is a partnership of all Australian and New Zealand fire, land and emergency service agencies; more than 30 universities; plus many federal, state and local government departments; professional and volunteer associations; and non-for-profit organisations.
From mid-2013 and backed with $47 million over eight years from the Australian Government, plus contributions from its member organisations, the CRC has been undertaking research that supports the development of cohesive, evidence-based policies, strategies and programs to build a more disaster resilient Australia.
The CRC is providing a long-term knowledge base that directly supports emergency services and other government and non-government agencies protect their communities through work to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters.
The CRC is end-user driven. This means that users of the knowledge define and are involved in the ongoing development of the research program so that the work is conducted with a clear end use in mind. The utilisation of the research by the end-users to the benefit of the broader Australian community is critical to the whole process. The research program comprises three broad themes, covering 12 clusters of projects, most of which span the priorities for those working in a multi-hazard environment. The themes are:
Dr Richard Thornton
Chief Executive Officer, Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC
Research outcomes across the natural hazards have become vital to emergency services agencies, government departments and others within the sector. At the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC we have contributed strongly to this national demand by driving a collective approach to natural hazards science based on the requirements of our partners. In this publication the CRC looks back, forward and beyond to see how our research is making a difference for all to see.
We will continue to deliver our research benefits for the sector because the economic and social costs of disasters in Australia and New Zealand is
continuing to increase. The need for an evidence base relevant to the challenges we face both now, and in the future, is constant. Collectively, we must all continue to ask the important questions. The future is not just a linear extension of what we know now.
Together with our partners, we are working towards a more disaster resilient Australia. This is your natural hazards research centre. We hope you will help us deliver for the community through your active involvement in the research.
On a sad note, our founding Chairman Dr Laurie Hammond passed away in November 2018 after a short battle with illness. Laurie was integral to the growth and development of the centre. His leadership at the Board level and his strategic advice to management was always insightful, timely and welcomed.
Laurie will be sadly missed by all of us here at the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, and by his colleagues across the emergency services and management sector.
Research Driving Change - Showcase 2017 (Adelaide, July 2017) was an opportunity to listen, discuss and digest the learnings from the CRC. Case studies from those using the research highlighted how the findings are being put into practice. The CRC was established to conduct end-user inspired, high-quality applied research. The CRC was created with a mission to:
The first ‘C’ in CRC is all about being a cooperative, a network of local, national and international projects, with a pool of ideas and resources.
The CRC has created a space for discussion, learning and development of natural hazards science and disaster resilience in Australia through regular conferences and activities, and publications.
The business of the CRC is focused research into operations and policy, with a strong feedback loop of allowing operations and policy to inform new research. This makes the CRC dynamic and responsive, with all partners an essential part of that research loop.
With the creation of new knowledge through research, the CRC develops the skills and knowledge of researchers, PhD students and the community.
This is the final step – when the CRC harnesses its collective strength, creates a forum for knowledge, and manages the research loop, then it will have developed a capacity in its people (both researcher and agency personnel) to deliver research that is relevant, accessible and ready to be used.
The strength of the CRC lays in its collective nature. As a cooperative research centre, the CRC is a collection of people and individual organisations, that bring a range of values to the whole. The CRC operates as a hub, creating bridges that link disparate and diverse groups together in a network focused on innovation.
With more than 250 researchers and 250 agency staff in Australia and internationally directly involved in the research projects - with many more indirectly involved - the collective strength is an efficient and effective way to advance the science of natural hazards.
The CRC provides a research capacity that is not feasible at the individual state or territory or agency level, nor with any one university or research organisation. Core funding through the Australian Government’s CRC Programme combined with contributions from all partners (cash and in-kind) creates a pool of resources large enough to tackle research questions at the national scale.
With the resources pooled and the research outcomes shared, the return on the investment for any individual partner is significantly better than if it was to pursue the research aims alone.
This pooled investment in the CRC is also being leveraged in other ways:
The CRC is building and maintaining the skills and knowledge of partners, researchers, students, and the community.
Briefing papers on the latest research findings in easy to understand language
National Research Priorities for natural hazards emergency management 2017-2027
The latest news, developments and technical information for emergency services, natural hazards researchers and the fire protection industry
The premier journal for emergency management, in partnership with the Australian Journal of Emergency Management
The CRC is frequently sought out for comment by a range of national, international and regional media. Through the CEO and through experts across many disciplines, the CRC is well positioned to provide media comment that supports our agency partners.
As an Affiliate Partner of the Australian Science Media Centre, the CRC is a key supporter of the promotion of Australian science. This partnership also places the CRC’s natural hazard research in prominent view of science journalists around Australia and internationally. Many international media frequently reach out for expert opinion, emphasising that the CRC is viewed as the authority on natural hazards research.
Coverage in traditional media is amplified through the social media channels of the media, and the CRC and its partners. The CRC is active on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, with a growing list of followers on each platform. Social media is an important channel to reach individuals and groups in addition to the regular CRC networks, including regional communities, volunteer brigades and units, local government, politicians, and international researchers.
Peak times centre around the CRC’s Seasonal Bushfire Outlooks for southern and northern Australia, the Research Forum and annual conference, and major hazard events (prominently bushfires, floods and cyclones over summer).
By way of example, in September 2017 the Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook was covered more than 55 times across all media. This included live coverage on ABC24 and across the nightly news on all four networks, as well as The Project and Sunrise and major newspapers The Herald Sun, The Age, The Daily Telegraph, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra Times and The Weekly Times.
On social media, the updated version released in November 2017 reached more than 99,000 people on social media.
Television, radio and website interviews have focused on the science emerging from various projects. Prominent commentary articles have appeared in The Conversation, The Australian, and the Australian Financial Review. All media mentions are listed on the CRC website. Media coverage is generated in conjunction with university and end user partners.
Industry and trade media are key media partners, with the CRC contributing regular articles on the latest research findings and developments in Asia Pacific Fire (UK-based), Wildfire (US-based), and most partner agency publications. CRC research was also cited in numerous publications by the Climate Council.
The CRC ensures that the research both informs practice, and that the practice informs the ongoing and new research. Integrated project teams of researchers and end-users are in place for every project to ensure the projects are informed by, and remain focused on, the needs of the partner organisations. Ongoing and active engagement between researchers and end-users is crucial to the success of each project.
The CRC is building and maintaining the skills and knowledge of partners, researchers, students, and the community.
Over the first five years of the CRC the ongoing development of the research program included extensive engagement with end-users, researchers and the broader community with a stake in natural hazards management.
Under the watch of the International Science Advisory Panel, the research program was mapped for progress of utilisation opportunities and to develop new projects for the coming years.
Major outcomes for research utilisation include the many conferences where these publications were presented and discussed with end-users, and the use of the research by partners as outlined in the following case studies.
Better warnings to ensure action
Strength in the face of high winds
Better fire danger ratings
Emergency planning for animals
Sharing the risk
School-based education for disaster risk reduction
Looking back can prevent future flood deaths
"What if questions" drive future policy
A model for relief and recovery
Carbon abatement through better fire mapping
Complex decision making and teamwork when the heat is on
Finding fires faster
Sattelites to help show when the bush is ready to burn
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