United Nations' International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction - 13 October 2021

On 13 October we partnered with the ABC to hear from an expert panel, including researchers Dr Josh Whittaker (NSW Rural Fire Service), Dr Briony Towers and end-user Dr Kate Brady (Australian Red Cross), to acknowledge the United Nations' International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Watch the full recording here. 

The panel discussed the latest research findings on community experiences of the 2019-20 fire season in NSW and bushfire education with children, as well as unpacking bushfire risk reduction through preparation, caring for your mental health and recovery, before answering questions.

Host: Kate BradyAfter The Disaster podcast.


  • Dr Rob Gordon is a clinical psychologist who has spent 35 years working with communities affected by disasters throughout Australia and New Zealand.
  • Dr Josh Whittaker is a geographer specialising in research on the vulnerability of human communities to bushfire (wildfire) and other natural hazards. He was a Research Fellow at the University of Wollongong's Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires from 2016 until February 2021, and is now the Coordinator Community Engagement at the NSW Rural Fire Service. Most recently he led research into community attitudes and experiences of the 2019-20 bushfire season in NSW.
  • Dr Briony Towers is the co-director of LEADRRR and a former Research Fellow at RMIT University. For the past six years, she has served as a Chief Investigator on Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC project on child-centred disaster risk reduction. Her scholarship and practice is focused on school-based education for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Briony lives and works on the land of the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation.
  • Nicky Haslinghouse is a CFA volunteer firefighter with the Mount Macedon fire brigade in Victoria, and the University of Melbourne’s Emergency Management and Critical Incident Specialist. Having grown-up in one of the most fire-prone areas of Victoria and joined CFA in her mid-twenties, she has held volunteer roles in community engagement, social media coordination and brigade management with CFA, and is deeply passionate about supporting high-risk communities to safely and effectively prepare for, respond to and recover from the impact of bushfire in the landscape.
  • Shona Whitton, Australian Red Cross

Research Priorities Workshops

The priorities for research will be developed around the themes that were developed during the preparation of the Centre’s initial research plan that was created earlier this year to support the Centre’s funding application to the Commonwealth.

Based on the feedback received, the eight current research themes are:

  1. Workforce and communities of the future
  2. Evidence-informed policy and strategy
  3. Resilient communities
  4. Learning from disasters
  5. Resilient and sustainable built environments
  6. Sustainable, safe and healthy landscapes in a changing environment
  7. Situational awareness
  8. Operational response and innovation

For each of the themes, the centre hosted half-day national end-user workshops (by invitation) during August:


Workshop date 

Workforce and communities of the future
Download the presentation

5 August  

Evidence-informed policy and strategy
Download the presentation

10 August 

Resilient communities 
Download the presentation

12 August 

Learning from disasters
Download the presentation

17 August 

Resilient and sustainable built environments
Download the presentation

19 August  

Sustainable, safe and healthy landscapes in a changing environment 
Download the presentation

24 August 

Situational awareness 
Download the presentation

26 August 

Operational response and innovation 
Download the presentation

31 August 

Northern Australia 


Outcomes from the workshops will be distributed soon. For further reading on these workshops, and for information about the themes and further stages of developing the research priorities, see:

For more information on these workshops, contact: