The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 identifies the need to promote cooperation between research entities and those involved in emergency management to develop new products that enhance disaster resilience. The Australian National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework (PDF 4.4MB) translates the first three Sendai Framework priorities into action for the Australian context with a requirement to strengthen the link between research and operational expertise.
The Disaster Resilience Research Group accepts these challenges and in doing so, aims to enhance their research leadership in disaster resilience both locally in Tasmania, nationally in Australia and internationally.
The Disaster Resilience Research Group spans three colleges at the University of Tasmania. It is based within the College of Arts, Law and Education and run collaboratively with the College of Sciences and Engineering with researchers from the College of Health and Medicine. We are locally based but have a global reach working with a range of stakeholders that represent the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Our goal is to work with government and industry to collectively strengthen society’s resilience to disasters.
Banner Image Credit: 2016 Tasmanian Floods, The Examiner
Alignment with CALE Research
Tasmanian State Disaster Risk Assessment
In partnership with The Department of Police, Fire and Emergency Management, the University of Tasmania is undertaking the 2021 Tasmanian State Disaster Risk Assessment. This project will enable an all hazard and multi-disciplinary understanding of disaster risks affecting Tasmania. The Disaster Resilience Research Group is leading a multi-disciplinary team from the University of Tasmania to ensure that specific research subject matter expertise is encompassed in the project.
Bushfires Community Recovery Fund Evaluation Research Project
On behalf of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, the Disaster Resilience Research Group will explore how communities impacted by the 2018/19 Tasmanian bushfires recover in the context of responding to the current COVID-19 pandemic. It is envisaged that this research project will lead to results that can be generalised to the broader Australian recovery efforts.
Premier’s Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council
The Disaster Resilience Research Group worked with the Tasmanian Premier’s Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council (PESRAC) and Secretariat to use stretch-thinking techniques in COVID-19 recovery planning for a 3-year time horizon. This project also worked closely with the PESRAC Secretariat and Tasmanian peak bodies to identify strategic opportunities in the state’s recovery planning.
State Emergency Management Program
This research grant was awarded by the Tasmanian State Emergency Management Program to assist the Tasmanian State Emergency Management Committee in delivering programs to address significant disaster resilience initiatives. The project developed a practical guide so practitioners in the public and not-for-profit sectors can enhance collaboration in the recovery phase of emergency management. The project worked with stakeholders from Tasmanian not-for-profit organisations and those representing multiple public sector agencies that were involved in the 2016 Tasmanian floods.
University of Tasmania Community Engagement Grant
This research grant conducted a pilot project that involved working alongside communities that have been affected by disasters in Tasmania to explore the potential of a prospective longitudinal study of trauma exposure, resilience, health and ageing. Individual and community needs were identified to develop a framework for the co-design of a future study.
COVID-19 Recovery Project
In Phase 1 of the COVID-19 Recovery Project, the Disaster Resilience Research Group collaborated with the Western Australian (WA) Government State Recovery Coordination Unit. Using Stretch-thinking techniques, the project identified a series of recovery scenarios for WA across a 12-month time horizon that explored the likely consequences, constraints, and opportunities for the social and economic recovery environments.
In Phase 2 of this project, the team at the Disaster Resilience Research Group collaborated with Emergency Management Australia and multiple Australian jurisdictions to identify recovery scenarios for a 12-month and 3-year time horizon. This project used Stretch-Thinking Loops to develop a national picture of the potential post COVID-19 recovery landscape.
Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre
A 3-year research grant supported two interrelated projects. The first project explored decision-making in dynamic, complex, and uncertain situations where decision makers are required to manage their cognitive limitations, so they can successfully manage the consequences of their decisions. The second project worked to better understand the enablers and constraints to utilising research to support development of evidence-informed practice.
A 12-month research utilisation grant is currently being used to develop training materials and activities that will be used to up-skill a cohort of personnel from participating end-user agencies. These personnel will be able train their colleagues in the use of the non-technical skills and practices so they can be embedded as part of core business in emergency management.
The World Bank and the Government of Bangladesh
This research was part of the Bangladesh Urban Resilience Project funded by the World Bank and the Government of Bangladesh and managed by C3NTRE. The overarching goal was to create a professional emergency management training track across various levels of government in Bangladesh. The Disaster Resilience Research Group conducted an evaluation of leading research related to the proposed training tracks to identify best evidence-based practice that was incorporated into the curriculum. The Disaster Resilience Research Group also contributed to the development of a monitoring framework, including performance indicators to monitor and evaluate the progress, and effects of the program.
Our Research Group
Ben is a human factors researcher with interests in measuring and improving human and organisational performance in high risk work environments.
Steve is a human factors researcher with an interest in understanding how we can improve human capabilities to enhance organisational resilience.
Chris is a human factors researcher investigating communication, co-ordination and teamwork practices in high technology, high intensity and safety critical work environments.
Duncan is a researcher at the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre and his research focuses on stress-related factors which influence a person’s resilience.
Cameron is a public policy researcher with an interest in disaster resilience policy focussing on how public policy can contribute to enhancing infrastructure resilience.
Olly is a research assistant with an interest in quantitative methodologies and is currently studying psychology at University of Tasmania.
Ebba is a social scientist with an intertest in qualitative research techniques that she uses to unpack complex social problems.
News and Events
Due to the current pandemic we have unfortunately had to postpone our upcoming events.
News and Past Events
22-23 October 2019
Workshops for building capacity in effective decision making for natural hazards within local government
Ben and Steve in partnership with the Bushfire and a Natural Hazards CRC conducted two Stretch Thinking for Crisis and Emergency Management workshops for WALGA. The workshops explored decision making theory with participants exploring the influence of psychological safety and cognitive bias and discussing examples of best practice. Each workshop involved a detailed discussion exercise scenario encompassing social, environmental, infrastructure and economic considerations. After sharing the results of their discussion, participants reflected on how their learnings about psychological safety and cognitive bias had been incorporated into their discussion.
27-30 August 2019
2019 Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council Conference
Ben and Steve provided a joint presentation at the AFAC 2019 conference to a full house! The title of the presentation was, Preparing for the new norm: does emergency management need to be more creative? Their interactive session challenged the audience to explore their own creativity in the context of emergency management. Following the presentation Ben and Steve were interviewed by ABC local radio about their research.
12-13 June 2019
Eighth Australian & New Zealand Disaster & Emergency Management Conference
The DRRG presented 2 papers at this national conference on the Gold Coast. Christine presented a paper based on her work with the Australian Institute of Police Management exploring new approaches to enhancing police leadership capabilities. Collaborating with Ben and Steve, C3NTRE Director Alex Spence presented a paper on the Bangladesh Urban Resilience Project.
10-12 June 2019
Fourth Northern European Conference on Emergency and Disaster Studies
Steve presented at this international conference in Sweden on the research he and Ben have conducted with the commander of the Australian USAR team that were deployed to Japan following the megadisaster in 2011. This opportunity afforded the DRRG to foster relationships with a number of internationally recognised Disaster Research Centres from Europe and North America.
8 May 2019
Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC Research Advisory Forum
Ben presented the DRRG’s latest research at the Bushfire and a Natural Hazards CRC Research Advisory Forum in Melbourne. The event was attended by endusers from across Australia that represented the emergency services, local government and the not-for-profit sector.
12 April 2019
Symposium | UTAS All-Hazards Disaster
Duncan and Steve presented research from the DRRG to an array of practitioners involved in Tasmanian emergency management arrangements and academic staff from UTAS. Vice Chancellor Rufus Black was a distinguished guest on the panel session discussing how can a Tasmanian ‘community of practice’ work together to develop place-based excellence in ‘all hazards’ research.
4 April 2019
Creativity in decision making research
As part of their research with the Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC, Ben and Steve conducted a research workshop in Brisbane with the Queensland infrastructure sector investigating the role of creativity in complex decision making.
8 March 2019
Masterclass | Decision making in a crisis to the Australian Critical Infrastructure Sector
Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC research that underpinned the development of a guide on decision making in a crisis was presented by Dr Steve Curnin to the Australian critical infrastructure sector. Read more
29 October 2018
Emergency Management Expertise Presented at the Australian and New Zealand National Council (AFAC) Conference 2018, Perth
On 6-7 Sep 2018, Dr Curnin co-presented with Rob McNeil a paper titled Is an Incident Controller JUST an Incident Controller?, co-authored by - Rob McNeil (Fire and Rescue NSW), Steven Curnin, Ben Brooks and Christine Owen (UTAS and Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC). Read more
29 October 2018
Decision Making During a Crisis: a Practical Guide Launched at the Masterclass
Dr Curnin conducted a Masterclass for the Tasmanian Critical Infrastructure sector on decision making in a crisis in Hobart this month. The Masterclass was a joint initiative with the School of Social Sciences, UTAS in partnership with the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs. Read more
From Research to Education
One of the fundamental goals of our research is to translate the knowledge created into educating and training people about disaster resilience. We have used our research and expertise in this area to develop five undergraduate units at the University of Tasmania.
The Australian National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework (PDF 4.4MB) outlines a national, comprehensive approach to proactively reducing disaster risk, now and into the future. The following table outlines how our research is contributing to the four priorities identified in the ‘Framework’ at a micro-level.
National Priority 1: Understand disaster risk
Strategy D: Integrate plausible future scenarios into planning
Contribution: During the discussion exercises in our decision making workshops, participants explore scenario-based risk assessments that are designed to inform complex decisions that are used for navigating future uncertainties.
National Priority 2: Accountable decisions
Strategy C: Build the capability and capacity of decision-makers to actively address disaster risk in policy, program and investment decisions
Contribution: Our research is producing guidance materials to build the capability of decision-makers, so they can manage their cognitive limitations when addressing current and future disaster risks and the potential impacts within their area of responsibility.
National Priority 3: Enhanced investment
Strategy D: Identify additional current and future potential funding streams
Contribution: Together with our end users, we are proactively utilising existing funding pathways available at the BNHCRC for utilisation projects that transition research outcomes to changed practices that meet the needs of organisations with a role in disaster governance arrangements.
National Priority 4: Governance, ownership and responsibility
Strategy D: Create clear governance pathways for pursuing disaster risk reduction projects
Contribution: Our research investigating creativity in decision complexity is aligning these decision-making practices across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors to allow a holistic approach to prioritising disaster risks and formulating potential actions to reduce and manage them.
Available Research Degree Projects
There are currently no higher degree research opportunities available at the moment but please keep checking this section on the website for future projects.
For a full list of current University projects, refer to the Research Division – Available Research Degree Projects.
A full range of publications relevant to the Disaster Resilience Research Group can be found on our researcher's full profiles linked above. These include journal articles, books, chapters in books, reviews, conference publications, thesis, and other public outputs.