A need to understand the common ground - cross hazard research

Created date

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 11:25pm

Thankfully there was no loss of life in the most recent Perth fires, but with almost 100 properties damaged or destroyed these are significant and tragic events.

What can we learn from the recent natural disasters in Queensland, Victoria and now Western Australia? Firstly that the many of the findings from bushfires relating to community preparedness are common across the various natural disasters: just like in our research into communities in the Black Saturday fires of two years ago, we saw reports of people inexplicitly unprepared, reluctant to evaluate the situation in which they found themselves and waiting for someone to tell them what to do; secondly, issues relating to where and how houses are built continue to be debated, much can be learnt from the extensive community research we have conducted. Similarly the fire community can learn a lot from what went well in the recent cyclones, and floods, these are lessons which we still have to be learnt.

The Bushfire CRC is now open to new proposals from students to contrast and compare the various natural disasters. This cross hazard work would provide a unique insight which all agencies could learn from; I look forward to receiving ideas. See here for application process

In the past month we have sent researchers to the Lake Clifton fires south of Perth to understand the experiences of the locals and as of last week similar teams have moved in to the recent Perth fires. These findings will be combined with the findings from Black Saturday, Toodyay and Lake Clifton, to build a bigger picture of how communities are receiving messages and warnings, so that these can be improved.