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Disaster Resilience Research Group

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

Research Snapshot


Natural Disaster Risk Reduction Grants Program

The Disaster Resilience Research Group is collaborating with the Department of Premier and Cabinet to identify a horizon scanning framework that will align with the priorities from the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework to integrate a suite of plausible future scenarios into Tasmania’s Emergency Risk Management prevention and preparedness planning program.

Tasmanian State Disaster Risk Assessment

In partnership with The Department of Police, Fire and Emergency Management, the University of Tasmania assisted in undertaking the 2021 Tasmanian State Disaster Risk Assessment. This project enables an all hazard and multi-disciplinary understanding of disaster risks affecting Tasmania. The Disaster Resilience Research Group led a multi-disciplinary team from the University of Tasmania to ensure that specific research subject matter expertise was encompassed into the project.

Bushfires Community Recovery Fund Evaluation Research Project

On behalf of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, the Disaster Resilience Research Group completed a project that explored how communities impacted by the 2018/19 Tasmanian bushfires recovered in the context of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings from this research project 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.


Cyber and Infrastructure Security Centre

The team at the Disaster Resilience Research Group were invited by the Australian Department of Home Affairs to update and enhance the current the Organisational Resilience HealthCheck Tool and Organisational Resilience Good Business Guide to ensure it is contemporary and fit for purpose, particularly following the recent amendments to the Security of Critical Infrastructure (SOCI) Act 2018.

Natural Hazards Research Australia

The team at the Disaster Resilience Research Group led by Dr Stellmach are part of a broader national project that is investigating the community experiences of the 2022 eastern Australia floods project, but will focus on learning firsthand from people who were impacted by the 2022 floods in northern Tasmania and apply their lessons to future flood preparedness

The team at the Disaster Resilience Research Group were approached by Natural Hazards Research Australia to provide research expertise for a collaborative thought leadership piece between Natural Hazards Research Australia and KPMG. The project developed a series of case studies for industry that explore how technology can be maximized for intelligent decision-making in uncertainty within the context of emergency management.

Australian Research Council DECRA Project

The team at the Disaster Resilience Research Group have been awarded a 3-year Australian Research Council project. Commencing in December 2021, this project will create new knowledge by exploring how Futures-Thinking Teams can be implemented into organisations in the context of crisis management, and how they can enhance collaboration and build trusting relationships within and between teams.

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 developed training materials and activities that were used to up-skill a cohort of personnel from participating end-user agencies. These personnel are now to 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.


Global Future FITness Study

The team at the Disaster Resilience Research Group is collaborating with the University of Southern Queensland as part of an international project led by EDHEC Business School. The Future FITness project seeks to investigate an organisation’s capability to anticipate and assess drivers of change, understand systemic effects and foresee consequences to take a proactive posture towards change. The project will work with Australian companies to compare the need and maturity of their strategic foresight capabilities.

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 intensity and safety critical work environments.

A medical anthropologist, Darryl studies how individuals and organisations understand and respond to large-scale human crisis. He has a special interest in collaborative frameworks for disaster response.

Cameron is a public policy researcher with an interest in disaster resilience policy focussing on how public policy can contribute to enhancing infrastructure resilience.

Adeel is an experienced humanitarian worker whose thesis is investigating the role of emotional intelligence led trust in improving the capability of disaster response teams.

Olly is a research assistant with an interest in quantitative methodologies and is currently studying psychology.

Ebba is a social scientist with an intertest in qualitative research techniques that she uses to unpack complex social problems.

News and Events

News and Past Events

Aerial view of flooded land and houses

26 June 2023

ABC Radio

The Disaster Resilience Research Group was invited by Mel Bush from the ABC to participate in the Tasmania Saturday’s radio program. Darryl spoke on the Saturday morning show about the Natural Hazards Research Australia flood study project, and specifically the Northern Tasmania flood project he is leading. The interview focussed on how the work feeds into broader federal agendas for disaster preparedness.

Steve Curnin behind the lecturn speaking at the conference

24 March 2023

Cyber and Infrastructure Security Conference

The Disaster Resilience Research Group was invited by the Australian Department of Home Affairs to present at the inaugural Cyber and Infrastructure Security Conference. The conference was attended by 550 in person participants and 1000 participants that joined via the live stream. Steve provided an interactive presentation titled ‘Assessing Your Organisation’s Resilience’ that was based on the work the University of Tasmania was conducting updating the Australian Government publication, Organisation Resilience Good Business Guide.

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 a suite of undergraduate and postgraduate units aligned to the topic of disaster resilience.

Policy Alignment

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.


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.