Adapting a research model of cross-stakeholder involvement pioneered for the DRR research domain in Australia, the IRDR National Committee Australia “Bushfire & Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (BNH CRC)”, an ARC-funded research five-year study led by a team from the University of Melbourne explores the medium to long term impacts of the Victorian 2009 bushfires on individuals and communities.
On 30 October 2014, the project will hold an outreach symposium with presentations from the research team and community partners that will provide a platform for discussions with the audience.
In partnership with a range of academic, NGO and community partners, including government, emergency, and service agencies the study seeks to draw on a wide range of bushfire experiences from low impact to high impact, collecting information through surveys, interviews, focus groups and community visits etc. The study will examine impacts on mental health, well being and social relationships within selected residential communities. Over 1,000 participants joined by completing surveys in 2012 that will be followed up in 2014 and beyond, provided funding becomes available.
Conducting the study over five years and focusing on the role of social networks will provide new insights into the interplay between individual and community factors and their influence on recovery from natural disaster over time. The study findings will thereby expand understanding of long term disaster recovery needs for individuals and communities.
For detailed information about the study methodology, refer to the study protocol paper Beyond Bushfires: Community, Resilience and Recovery – a longitudinal mixed method study of the medium to long term impacts of bushfires on mental health and social connectedness.