MUDRI news and updates - January 2020

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Welcome to 2020

The words of Dorothy Mackellar’s poem My Country ring loudly, as this year starts as a stark reminder about the tumultuous way ‘the beauty and terror’ of our ‘love of a sunburnt country’ turns topsy-turvy in an instant. Around Australia, farmers, emergency services and too many communities shattered from their hell bent efforts to save their communities, continue to counter the scourges of drought, fire, and the flooding rains.

‘Australia burns’, the international media write, while the Financial Review reports that cancelled trips from overseas holidaymakers could cost $4.5b by the end of the year, and, out of respect, Tourism Australia pauses its $45m international advertising campaign. It seems the world weeps as Australia burns, revealing a much deeper caring nature that belies headline news about Syria, Iran, North Korea, Trump, Brexit, or Megxit. The prodigious outpouring of global donations, which nudges $500m, also reminds us about the extraordinary human kindness that flourishes during times of disaster and need.

Those of us with desk bound jobs might feel helpless as we watch people from a multitude of different agencies making significant community contributions to saving lives, homes, farms, cattle, wildlife or the forests themselves. We see those fighting fires, evacuating holidaymakers and residents, caring for wildlife, assessing damages, or carting water. We see remarkable initiatives such as the Sikh Volunteers Australia, who headed towards East Gippsland with a van, packed with vegetarian food and water to feed the hungry, and became accidental media heroes.

As the bushfire emergency, and now weather crisis subside, these events transition slowly from response to recovery. As communities emerge from the waves of destruction and find ways to build back stronger, the resilience narrative looms large and strong. Communities around Victoria have shared their resilience stories about how they build their resilience before, during and after disasters. Their experiences provide valuable lessons that could help disaster-affected communities navigate their way to building back stronger. Replicating or adapting proven resilience activities to the needs of particular communities not only helps bond people during times of great need, but also helps people learn from the lessons of others and saves wasting valuable resources. Saving valuable community resources was an important aim for MUDRI when we decided to promote these significant community efforts and contributions in the Compendium, which offers ideas to all communities to build the resilience of their community.


Welcome to the refreshed Compendium of Victorian Community-based Resilience Building Case Studies

Over many months, the MUDRI team sought feedback from users of the Compendium. Participants who attended the 2018 Diversity in Disaster Conference provided valuable and insightful advice, as did staff from Resilient Melbourne and Emergency Management Victoria.

Resulting from this feedback, we have transitioned to a more user-friendly online format comprising 38 case studies that complement the downloadable PDF format. We trust you enjoy this refreshed approach and look forward to your feedback for further improvements. Visit the online version.

MUDRI invites you to contribute your community-based resilience-building activity/ies to the Compendium, so together we can use shared experiences and learnings to strengthen community resilience across Victoria. Contact Caroline Spencer or submit online.

Free access to the Compendium provides a resource for all people from across all sectors, council boundaries and community groups to deliver resilience-building projects that help Victorian communities become even more viable, sustainable, liveable and prosperous, today and long into the future.

MUDRI’s strong interest in community resilience triggered the inspiration to create this Compendium of Victorian Community-based Resilience Building Case Studies, the first of its kind in Australia, to feature resilience-building case studies, shared learnings, insights, challenges and solutions in this context.


The Gender and Disaster (GAD) Pod wins two prestigious Resilient Australia Awards 2019

The GAD Pod is a partnership between Women’s Health In the North (WHIN), Women's Health Goulburn North East (WHGNE) and MUDRI. The group recently took away two awards at the 2019 Resilient Australia Awards.

The first honour was the Victorian 2019 Community Award, which celebrates initiatives that build community resilience to disasters and emergencies, recognising collaboration and innovative thinking across all sectors. GAD Pod won the award for their project on Long-term Disaster Resilience, led by MUDRI Adjunct Research Fellow, Dr Deb Parkinson. The MUDRI team, led by Dr Caroline Spencer, undertook the literature review and Frank Archer chaired the project advisory committee.

Winners of Victorian Award

(L to R) Dr Caroline Spencer, Dr Debra Parkinson, Ms Naomi Bailey, Dr Alyssa Duncan, Ms Jaspreet Kaur after the presentation of the Victorian award

The second honour was the Resilient Australia National Significance Award for "Addressing domestic violence in disasters through implementing National Gender and Emergency Management Guidelines”. The award recognises a contribution of ‘exemplary national significance’. In awarding this to the GAD Pod, the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR) writes: ‘Gender issues are known to compound the damaging effects of disaster on survivors. The Gender and Emergency Management Guidelines were developed collaboratively as part of 2016 All on Board project which aimed to reduce the compounding effects of gender on disaster impact through the development of national gender and emergency guidelines to fill a gap in Australian knowledge, policy and practice'.

The GAD Pod also won this National Award in 2015 for their leading edge research exploring domestic violence in the setting of the Victorian Black Saturday bushfires. To have won this national Award twice, 5 years apart, is testimony to the sustainable research excellence demonstrated by the GAD Pod research leadership.

Gad Pod wins award

(L-R) John Gibbon (Deputy Director, EMA), Deb Parkinson (WHIN), Helen Riseborough (WHIN), Caroline Spencer (MUDRI) at the National awards


MUDRI contributes to community engagement successes in Upper Beaconsfield

MUDRI, in collaboration with the Upper Beaconsfield Association (UBA) and the Upper Beaconsfield Community Centre (UBCC), recently won a $10,000 Australia Post Community Grant. The grant aims to mobilise Upper Beaconsfield community to co-design neighbourhood connections to strengthen community networks and capacity. This year, Caroline Spencer, UBA President, and Sarah Stickland, UBCC Manager, will connect with community leaders and community champions to create a group of like-minded people who would like to benefit the Upper Beaconsfield residents with increased community connections and stronger social networks. Significant to this project is reducing isolation by connecting with long-term and new residents who are either familiar or unfamiliar with bushfire and other risks typical to this area thereby achieving a connected community that survives and thrives.

As part of her role with the UBA, Caroline also recently chaired a very successful public meeting on the topic: ‘Do you want to learn about insurance for bushfire prone areas? What are Bushfire Attack Levels? Need to know more? The session attracted approximately 130 local residents and aimed to aid community preparedness for the 2019/2020 Summer Fire Season. As it turns out, this meeting was very timely!

Caroline and Sarah

Caroline Spencer and Sarah Stickland


MUDRI HDR candidates extend their international reach

Joe Cuthbertson (pictured below, left), was recently re-elected as a member of the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine (WADEM) Board. The Board then appointed Joe as a Co-chair of the new WADEM Research and Evaluation Directorate. Joe continues as Chair of the WADEM Oceania Chapter.

Suresh Pokharel (pictured below, right) was recently appointed as the Disaster Risk Management Specialist (Australia Assists Program), National Emergency Management Office, Kingdom of Tonga.

We congratulate both Joe and Suresh on their new appointments and wish them every success in the challenges ahead. We look forward to hearing from them at upcoming MUDRI events.

Joe and Suresh


MUDRI Graduate Research successes

The following students achieved successful completion of their PhDs and Masters research studies respectively, graduating with their respective degree. We congratulate all graduands on their success. We look forward to celebrating with another 12 MUDRI HDR candidates as they complete their research programs over the next year or so.

Dr Fiona Roberts

‘We Just want to Help’, community disaster resilience – profit in nonprofits

‘We just want to help’ exemplifies how Lions Clubs, Rotary Clubs and Neighbourhood Houses can offer assistance before, during and after disasters. This thesis provides a first-time analysis of the actions and strengths that nonprofit organisations can deliver in times of crises; as well as identifying barriers and suggesting enablers to action. The embeddedness of nonprofit organisations’ local knowledge and connections offers enormous capacity to strengthen and build community resilience to disasters. Importantly, with increasing evidence of climate change intensifying disaster events around the world, this research emphasises how nonprofit organisations can help in the disaster space.

Dr Diana Wong

Development and Validation of a Comprehensive Framework for Disaster Evaluation Typologies

This thesis presents the development and international validation of a unique, unifying comprehensive framework that structures disaster evaluation typologies along the disaster timeline. This Framework improves the validity of disaster evaluation by clarifying various evaluation typologies and strengthens the evidence-base of health interventions delivered in response to disasters. It provides consistent terminology and standards for evaluation and reporting across the different phases of a disaster. This in turn provides comparability to understand better the process, outcomes, and impacts of the efficacy and efficiency of interventions.

Mr Dudley McArdle CSC

Australia’s Emergency Managers – Towards Professionalisation

Ms Bianca Olstein

A Comparison of Multi Casualty Incident Management and Training Between Victoria’s and Israel’s Ambulance Services.

Mr Mat Pepper

Prehospital Response to Terrorism

Roger Jones, OAM

Developments in Australian Emergency Management Theory, Policy and Practice, 1930-2015: An Autoethnography


Welcome to our new MUDRI Adjunct Research Fellow

Congratulate Fiona on her appointment to our team of Adjuncts, who include Ben Beccari, Deanne Bird and Deb Parkinson.


2020 National AIDR Conference, 26-27 August 2020, Adelaide Convention Centre: Disaster risk reduction in action: pathways to impact. CALL FOR ABSTRACTS closes Monday 10 February 2020

As Australia moves forward with a new agenda to enhance disaster risk reduction and contribute to a more resilient nation, 2019 turned into a year of record-breaking weather events in Australia and around the world. These events would have once been rare, or unprecedented, but now occur more frequently and with significant impact. At the same time, 2019 saw the launch of Australia’s National Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction – a national and comprehensive approach to reducing disaster risk and its impacts, now and into the future.

Disaster risk reduction provides a positive path forward, where the old adage ‘business as usual’ no longer sits comfortably. However, what does that mean, and how do we take tangible action that leads to impact? The program committee invites abstracts that focus on

  • case studies,
  • research,
  • research utilisation,
  • partnerships and collaboration, and
  • good practice models.

MUDRI is represented on the Conference Committee.

Submit your abstract: For further information see the abstract submission portal.

The committee invites presenters to submit an abstract of no more than 300 words for oral presentations and posters via the abstract portal. Structured poster sessions provide a highlight at the conference in addition to hearing from speakers. The program committee will peer review all abstracts with respect to the conference theme. Abstract submission close Monday 10 February 2020.


AIDR Special update: Bushfire recovery resources

The following information comes to us from AIDR and we share it with you with permission.

As Australia moves from responding to the current bushfire crisis into relief and recovery with impacted communities, we know from previous disasters that a long-term approach is needed.

The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience supports and assists the disaster resilience community, particularly those working in recovery, by connecting you to knowledge and resources to assist you in your work with communities.

The Australian Disaster Resilience Knowledge Hub hosts information and resources developed by leading recovery experts that will help practitioners to support communities.

Community Recovery Handbook: A comprehensive guide to recovery that will help you to design and deliver disaster recovery initiatives.

Community recovery checklists: A compilation of 16 checklists that will help you plan and sense-check what you’re doing on-the-go.

National Principles for Disaster Recovery: Principles to guide your efforts, approach, planning and decision making when working with communities recovering from disaster.

Recovery Collection: A curated collection of resources to help practitioners with disaster recovery in Australia.

Gender and Emergency Management Guidelines and Checklist: These resources will help you apply a gender-sensitive approach to planning and delivering disaster relief and recovery.

Considerations for Governments Supporting Community-Led Recovery - literature review, report, and case studies: These recently-released resources look at how government agencies can foster and support community-led approaches to recovery with a view on long-term community health, wellbeing and connectedness.

Communities Responding to Disasters: Planning for Spontaneous Volunteers Handbook: This will help to guide you on how to support and coordinate people who are rallying together to lend a hand and support affected communities.

Health and Disaster Management Handbook: This provides national principles and practices for health management in disasters, tailored primarily for those working in the health system.

Disaster resilience teaching resources: Featuring Red Cross resources for parents and teachers in the recovery process.


Further useful resources

2019 / 2020 National bushfire crisis

EMV’s recently released Resilient Recovery Strategy (December, 2019)

IGEM Vic Inquiry

National Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for Disaster Recovery Programs

National Bushfire Recovery Agency

Bushfire Recovery Victoria

This is how we lead recovery, John Richardson Sastrugi Blog

Recovery lessons from the recent past

Beyond Bushfires: Community Resilience and Recovery, Final Report, Gibbs

Long-term Disaster Resilience

National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework

Taylor, D. & Goodman, H. Place-Based and Community-Led: Specific Disaster Preparedness and Generalisable Community Resilience. CatholicCare Bushfire Community Recovery Service. Melbourne, 2015

URBIS – Evaluation of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Case Management System