What is disaster resilience education?

Community disaster education is an integral component of emergency management in Australia and around the world. Its main goal is to promote public safety and, to a lesser extent, reduce damages.

However, many governments around the world, including Australia, aim to also build community disaster resilience, with education viewed as a critical mechanism. There is therefore a need to examine current community disaster education practices with a view to aligning them to the broader goal of disaster resilience.

To attempt this, an exploratory research methodology was utilised to examine possible education content and processes that could be used by emergency agencies and other organisations to design plans, programs and activities that build disaster resilience in local communities.

The research found that disaster resilience education content should not only cover preparedness and response aspects, but also learning about speedy and effective recovery for people, organisations (e.g. businesses) and communities.

It found that disaster resilience education should also involve learning about the community itself, including how to reduce vulnerabilities and connect communities through social capital formation.

As a result of the research, opportunities for disaster resilience education were identified in the main learning domains: behavioural, cognitive, affective and social.

The findings demonstrated that many current disaster education programs are only using limited parts of this learning ‘spectrum’, although this would be significantly increased by further embracing social media as a disaster resilience learning medium.

The research also identified a framework to design disaster resilience education programs that can be used for any community. The framework includes guiding principles, ‘palettes’ from which to choose appropriate learning content and processes, and a series of ‘filters’ to tailor the programs to specific disaster-impacted communities.

Mr Neil Dufty, Principal, Molino Stewart Pty Ltd will be speaking about his research on disaster resilience education at the Australian & New Zealand Disaster & Emergency Management Conference to be held at the QT Gold Coast, 5th – 7th May 2014.

The conference will examine what we have learnt in the past few years and provide a comprehensive forum that shines a light on resilience and offers professionals (and future professionals) an opportunity to examine the expertise, competencies and systems relating to the preparedness for future disasters, emergencies and hazards and the ability to recover from them quickly and efficiently.

To find out more, visit the conference website or contact the conference secretariat.