The following article was written by the Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC
Major learnings from research insights on the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria have been distilled into practical industry guidance for key messaging in catastrophic bushfires.
AFAC has developed the industry guideline; Community Safety Messaging for Catastrophic Bushfires: Lessons Learnt from Black Saturday Bushfires, Victoria 2009, for use by community safety and engagement practitioners.
This research utilisation case study explains how lessons based on the research findings from a 126 page report were translated into a practical, 12 page guidance resource for community engagement practitioners. Project team members and end-users also comment on the factors that they believe drove successful utilisation of the research insights.
Community engagement and community safety experts, drawn from the AFAC Community Engagement Technical Group developed the guideline through extensive rounds of review, consultation and drafting.
AFAC National Council approved the guideline in late 2016 as doctrine for use by member agencies as a pivotal document for practitioners across all jurisdictions to guide key messaging for communities in the lead up to, during and after catastrophic bushfire.
Shortly after the Black Saturday bushfires, the Bushfire CRC led a Research Response Task Force, which included an international team of researchers from Australia, NZ and the US, and supported by field staff from fire agencies across Australia. A variety of stakeholder organisations were represented, including Australian fire and emergency services and organisations such as the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology.
Fire behavior, human behavior factors and the role and impact of building and land-use planning were put under the microscope in what was the first large-scale study of its type ever conducted in Australia and possibly in the world.
The human factors researchers focused on collecting data from the survivors of the deadly bushfires to help understand the key factors that contributed to loss of life and property and their prevention on that day. The researchers conducted face-to-face interviews with more than 600 survivors of the Black Saturday bushfires in a bid to understand their decisions and actions in the lead up to, during and immediately after the disaster.
At the same time, a Victoria Police Taskforce began a detailed investigation into the deceased events for the Coroner, drawing insights from the last minutes of the victims, including how and where they died.
Subsequently, a Taskforce officer combined and analysed both data sets for a major overview report on lessons identified for the Coronial Brief. This 126 page report forms the basis of the new industry guidelines and case study.
This case study can be downloaded below or from the AFAC research utilisation page.
For further information on this case study, contact Dr Noreen Krusel, AFAC Director of Research Utilisation via email: Noreen.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learning Lessons from Research Insights (pdf Document, 603 kb)