RMIT researchers will focus on building the nation's resilience to natural disasters, supported by $2.75 million in funding grants.
Researchers have secured funding for three major projects from the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (BNHCRC).
The BNHCRC was officially launched late last year, with the aim of expanding research in natural hazards, such as floods, cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis.
Its research will include working with communities to improve disaster resilience and reduce the human, social, economic and environmental costs from bushfires and other natural hazards.
RMIT is leading three research projects through the BNHCRC and partnering with other universities in an additional three projects over four years.
Professor John Handmer, Director of RMIT Centre for Risk and Community Safety and its Human Security Program, will lead a team investigating how the emergency management sector in Australia and New Zealand can best promote resilience through the support of non-traditional emergency management volunteering.
The project is a collaboration with the Australian National University, Australian Red Cross, Volunteering QLD and fire and emergency agencies from Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and New South Wales.
Professor Handmer said that with natural hazards such as bushfires, floods and cyclones regularly affecting Australia, resilience was a vital research priority.
"RMIT's research collaboration with BNHCRC demonstrates our depth of knowledge and expertise in research that contributes to Australia's preparedness, response and recovery from disasters and natural hazards," he said.
"The three research projects being led by RMIT researchers show the level of cross-disciplinary expertise, from public safety, fire danger systems, hazard and sensor mapping and infrastructure."
Professor Simon Jones and Dr Karin Reinke, from the School of Mathematical and Geospatial Sciences' Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry research group, will lead a project focusing on disaster landscape attribution, thermal anomaly surveillance and hazard mapping, data scaling and validation.
The researchers will collaborate with the CSIRO, German Aerospace, the Bureau of Meteorology and ITC University of Twente, Netherlands on the project.
Professor Sujeeva Setunge, deputy head (Civil Engineering) of the School of Civil, Environmental and Chemical Engineering, will lead a project aimed at the development of tools and techniques to derive design and maintenance regimes, optimising the resilience of lifeline infrastructure affecting the performance of roads during and after a disaster.
The collaborative project involves the University of Melbourne, University of Southern Queensland, University of Salford UK, Lockyer Valley Regional Council, VicRoads, the Federal Attorney-General's Department, RMS New South Wales, Municipal Association of Victoria, and Transport and Mainroads Queensland.
The research will derive vulnerability models for bridges, culverts and flood ways under flood & storm surge, bushfires, earthquakes and climate change and will develop measures to improve community resilience by hardening of infrastructure.
RMIT's Professor Handmer and Dr Briony Towers will also collaborate with other universities on three projects.
Dr Towers, from the Centre for Risk and Community Safety, is working with researchers from the University of Central Queensland on a project titled Building Best Practice in Child-Centre disaster risk reduction.
This research will evaluate how education can equip children and families for disaster, and how children can help mobilise a community to respond and recover more effectively from unanticipated events.
Professor Handmer will work on a project based at the University of Melbourne, collaborating with the University of Queensland and GNS in New Zealand, which will examine how to improve the communication of risks and warnings that underpin the building, maintaining and restoring of resilience.
He will also join collaborators on a project titled Scientific Diversity, Scientific Uncertainty and Risk Mitigation Policy and Planning, based at the University of Western Sydney.
The project, which also involves the Australian National University, will investigate the diversity of bushfire and flood knowledge, and how it contributes to risk mitigation policy and planning, as well as how people use and understand scientific evidence and other forms of knowledge in bushfire and flood risk mitigation.
The RMIT Disaster Research Network brings together researchers to coordinate approaches to managing the natural and human-induced disasters that occur with increasing frequency in many parts of the world.
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