Members of RMIT’s Disaster Research network are currently involved in several disaster preparedness projects.
Managing risk in environmental disasters
Team: John Handmer, Karyn Bosomworth, Adriana Keating, Blythe McLennan, Briony Towers, Josh Whittaker.
RMIT researchers in the Centre for Risk and Community Safety are playing a leading role in addressing the problem of increasing frequency and severity of disasters. The team does this through analysing bushfire safety and policy and leading the national Network on Climate Change Adaptation and Emergency Management (NCCARF). They contribute to a global team preparing a special report for the United Nations Intergovermental Panel for Climate Change, titled Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters. One of the goals of the UN report is to establish whether communities and economic sectors can become more adaptive and resilient in the face of environmental disasters.
Fundamental to dealing with issues of risk management and disaster resilience are questions of policy and risk governance. Researchers in the Centre for Risk and Community Safety are therefore also working with the Australian fire and emergency management sector examining how risk, and responsibility for community safety can be shared in the face of natural disasters. The research also explores larger questions about the appropriate roles of governments and citizens in contemporary Australian society. Decisions about allocation of risk and responsibility involve costs and benefits. A complementary project is providing advice on the economics of disasters, emergency management and climate change adaptation.
Probability of fire ignition and escalation
Team: John Hearne and James Minas
Funded by: Bushfire CRC (2013-2016)
This project aims to establish probabilistic models to predict fire ignition and escalation as a function of critical environmental, social and economic variables. A conceptual framework will be developed for incorporating probability of fire ignition and escalation into strategic and operational decision making, together with stochastic optimisation models to assist with complex decisions.
The project supports the State's policy objective of establishing an explicit risk management system to guide fire management investment decision making in accordance with Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission recommendation 59.
The project is being undertaken for the Department of Environment and Primary Industries Victoria and is being managed by Bushfire CRC by RMIT and The University of Melbourne researchers.
Enhancing resilience of critical road infrastructure: bridges, culverts and floodways
Team: Sujeeva Setunge, Chun-Qing Li, Darryn McEvoy, Kevin Zhang
Funded by: Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC (2013-2017)
This project will develop tools and techniques for implementing strategies to enhance resilience of road infrastructure to multi-hazards of floods, fire and climate change and earthquakes.
Road networks and critical road structures such as bridges, culverts and flood ways have a vital role before, during and after extreme events to reduce the vulnerability of the community being served. A major gap in the current research is the lack of assessment techniques and tools to reduce the vulnerability of road structures to enhance both community and structural resilience.
This project will develop innovative tools and techniques for implementing strategies to enhance resilience of road infrastructure to multi-hazards of floods, fire and climate change and earthquakes. The research will commence with close assessment of two case study regions: one in Victoria and one in Queensland. It will then be expanded and validated.
Building best practice in child-centred disaster risk reduction
Team: Kevin Ronan (CQU), John Handmer, Briony Towers
Funded by: Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC (2013-2017)
This project is led by Central Queensland University (CQU) and will conduct a nationwide evaluation of programs and strategies based on a Child Centred-Disaster Risk Reduction framework.
The role of children’s disaster education in managing disaster risk has been recognised as a major priority in the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience. Yet, despite a recent surge in child-centred disaster research, the social, psychological, economic and political mechanisms that enable children to both understand and take action to reduce disaster risk remain largely unexplored and the evidence-base for best-practice remains limited.
A promising approach to supporting children’s active engagement in disaster risk reduction is an approach most commonly referred to as Child-Centred Disaster Risk Reduction. Its primary objective is to strengthen children’s skills so that they understand the disaster risk in their communities and are able to take a lead role in reducing that risk. While it is becoming increasingly popular amongst government and non-government agencies and organisations around the world, rigorous empirical research on the efficacy of the approach is scarce.
Scientific diversity, scientific uncertainty and risk mitigation policy and planning
Team: Jessica Weir (UWS), John Handmer
Funded by: Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC (2013 – 2017)
This project is led by the University of Western Sydney (UWS) and also involves the Australian National University (ANU) and investigates the diversity of bushfire and flood knowledge, and how it contributes to risk mitigation policy and planning. This research will also investigate how people use and understand scientific evidence and other forms of knowledge in bushfire and flood risk mitigation.