Communicating Risk

From the detailed analysis of the events of 7 February 2009 by the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, it is clear that many warnings were not received in a timely or usable way. Although some of this is linked to operational factors that are not the subject of research, there are clear gaps in knowledge of how to effectively communicate in these situations. Many of the questions are cross-disciplinary.

This program of work focuses on the communication of risk and threat: how are warnings and information best communicated and, for example, which media should be used?

A frightening aspect of the qualitative interviews conducted by the Bushfire CRC after the 7 February 2009 fires was that the anticipated behaviour of residents when faced with potentially lethal conditions was starkly different to that taken and in some cases led people into greater danger. This is an area that is not well understood, and further research needs to be conducted to understand what people actually did, why they did it, and what tools, methods and techniques can be used by public safety authorities to better ensure the safest behaviour under these types of conditions.