Educating Children About Bushfire Risk and Mitigation

The need to better educate the public about bushfire risk and mitigation has been recognised and schools have been identified as a major resource for pursuing this objective. However, effective utilisation of this resource requires consideration of two important issues. Firstly, as children develop, their perspectives on causality and prevention undergo systematic age-related changes. Secondly, children’s perspectives on causality and prevention are acquired through interaction with different elements of the social context - family, friends, and teachers - and the constituent influence of each element changes as children develop.

Research in a variety of areas, including health education and road safety education, has shown that when the content of a safety message is sensitive to age-related changes in perspective and the delivery of the message capitalises on the prevailing influence within the social context, the child’s ability to understand and assimilate that message is significantly enhanced and the adoption of preventative strategies increases.

This project examined age-related changes in children’s understand of causality and prevention as applied to the bushfire context. It also examined the role of parents, friends, and teachers in the development this understanding. The outcomes include a framework within which bushfire management agencies can design and deliver school-based bushfire education programs that accommodate age-related changes in children’s perspectives and capitalise on prevailing elements within their social context, thus increasing opportunities for understanding bushfire risk and, by extension, increasing the likelihood that mitigation strategies will be adopted.

This PhD research was completed by Briony Towers of RMIT University in 2011.

Related News

Bushfire CRC PhD students at the AFAC and Bushfire CRC conference in Perth, 2012
The Bushfire CRC scholarship program has so far produced 45 PhD graduates—with more to graduate in the next few years—ensuring the future of Australian fire research.
Use and sharing of the Bushfire CRC’s first ebook, Making a bushfire plan? Involve you kids! is growing, with a number of organisations distributing and promoting the ebook when talking about making bushfire plans with communities.
Briony Towers speaks at the ebook launch
Highlighting the breadth and depth of Australia’s national bushfire research program, two books were launched by the Bushfire CRC on 23 October in Melbourne.
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The ebook is available now for free
The Bushfire CRC has produced an ebook for parents on how to talk to children about bushfire preparation and safety.
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The Li'l Larikkins characters
Pioneering Bushfire CRC research is helping children learn about bushfires and other hazards as well as helping education, emergency service and other authorities enhance the effectiveness of bushfire education campaigns.
Two more PhD research students from our 2003-2010 program have submitted their theses in the past fortnight and two more have had their doctorates conferred.

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