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Hazards, culture and Indigenous communities

Hazards, culture and Indigenous communities

The natural hazard sector is broadening its agenda to prioritise disaster resilience, including a greater emphasis on community engagement, and the risk and resilience issues of culturally diverse peoples.

Industry priorities for this work include: to reduce hazard risk to these groups; to increase resilience in these groups and the wider community; to meet societal and policy expectations about cultural engagement; and to broaden the knowledge base utilised in natural hazards management. However, this is a complex cultural context to navigate, not least with respect to Indigenous peoples living in southern Australia.

While the majority of the nation’s Indigenous people live in southern Australia there has been, to date, relatively little research regarding their roles, knowledge and aspirations within natural hazards management. This project seeks to ameliorate this research gap by investigating the hazard priorities of southern Australia’s diverse Indigenous communities and the emergency management sector’s engagement with these communities. It will conduct collaborative research with Indigenous peoples and emergency management practitioners to explore how better engagement can be supported, with a focus on the interaction of scientific, Indigenous and other knowledge sources.

Drawing upon and supporting innovation where it is occurring, the project will analyse and report on what this dynamic intercultural context can offer practice and policy, including with respect to the merging of risk and resilience agendas. The project researchers, drawn from a range of institutions, aim to build narratives of intercultural hazard risk management and collaboration. Building trust, capacity and knowledge in these intercultural contexts will reduce risk to Indigenous peoples, the wider community, and the environments in which we live.


Jessica Weir (Western Sydney University)

Brian Cook (University of Melbourne)

Oliver Costello (Firestick Initiative)

Jeremy Dore (Aboriginal Carbon Fund)

Tara McGee (University of Alberta)

Jeremy Russell-Smith (Charles Darwin University)

Project Funding

This project is funded by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre.


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