Decision Making under stress - understanding community members survival related decision making in bushfire (Analysis of 2009 Victorian Bushfires)

Evidence presented to the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission suggested that, in addition to shortcomings in agencies’ provisions of specific warnings to at-risk communities about threats from bushfires, a significant number of fatalities may not have occurred if people had made (and acted upon) decisions more appropriate to their situation in the face of threats from the fires under the extreme weather conditions on the day.

While considerable research has investigated community members’ intentions to prepare for possible future bushfire threat, to date little research has focused on the reasons behind intentions for survival actions under imminent bushfire threat, and in particular why some people choose to wait and see how the bushfire situation develops.

This project aims to enhance understanding of the reasons why community members might choose to leave, stay and defend or to wait and see what develops, upon receiving a warning of bushfire threat.

This research will help influence policies on evacuating, sheltering and defending in the face of natural and man-made hazards and disasters.

The researchers participated in the collaborative research taskforce that interviewed residents after the fires around Perth in January and February of 2011.

Online survey

A community survey is now underway for several selected communities.

The questionnaire can be accessed here:

Related news

Yass fire - photo by the NSWRFS
Different psychological processes between individuals drives decision making. What does this mean for residents who are threatened by bushfire? Why do they decide to evacuate, stay and defend or wait and see?
The Bushfire CRC, in partnership with the Australian Science Media Centre, conducted an online background briefing on bushfires on current national bushfire research projects on 13 December 2012.
Task Force researchers in Strathewen
Fire Note 98 is a summary of the final report from the project: Decision making under stress: understanding community members survival-related decision making in bushfire.