Disaster Challenge Final 2023 | Natural Hazards Research Australia

Disaster Challenge Final 2023

The Disaster Challenge Final took place on Thursday 12 October 2023 in Melbourne, on the eve of the UN International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction.

We heard three brilliant ideas to take Australia in the right direction towards tackling the wicked problem pitched to an audience of emergency managers and disaster preparedness experts.

The wicked problem: in the midst of disruption, chaos and calamity, how can resources from across society be accessed and connected in new and innovative ways to improve disaster response and link those who have the resources and supports with those most in need

Meet our Finalists

Group photo of all the team members outside.


WINNER - Empowering youth-led engagement in community resilience – Lydia Wardale

This concept will foster social cohesion and strengthen community-based resilience with a pitch to establish a youth-led engagement program for young Australians aged 13-18. The proposed program would provide youths with disaster education in the form of knowledge and practical skills and strengthen their understanding of the disaster risks within their community.

Watch Lydia's pitch and her discussion on her concept and the inspiration behind it below.



RUNNER UP - Flood vulnerability index for Brisbane city – Dr Catherine Kim (Queensland University of Technology), Kaitlyn Brown (Queensland University of Technology), Dr Richard Cottrell (University of Tasmania/University of Queensland), Dr Aiden Price (Queensland University of Technology), Tace Stewart (Queensland University of Technology) and Dr Kate Saunders (Monash University/Queensland University of Technology)

This idea is for a Flood Vulnerability Index for Brisbane City to predict flood vulnerability at each level 2 statistical area. The proposed solution applies a data science approach to utilise the valuable spatial data sets readily available by councils, with the aim of increasing the public’s awareness of flooding impacts beyond inundation.

Watch the team's pitch below.


RUNNER UP - Climate Day: disaster preparedness in high schools – Maya Walton, Chloe O’Brien, Kathy Tran, Kiefer O’Brien and Edbert Young (University of Technology Sydney)

This concept is for a disaster preparedness education initiative for high schools and aimed at students in years 10-12 called Climate Day. Climate Day would build community resilience and emergency preparedness through immersive education experiences, reducing young people’s climate anxiety as a result.

Watch the team's pitch below.


Commended entries

  • Measuring difficulty of following preparation advice – Amanda Muller (University of Adelaide)
  • Critical infrastructure interdependencies model – Bawantha Rathnayaka (RMIT University)
  • Zoned community-led response – Ryan Pratt, Lauren Ghosen, Sonia Giga, Cameron Brown and Jada Subasinghe (University of Technology Sydney)
  • Energy Ark mobile energy solution – Louise Broeng (Macquarie University) and Sara Mills (Fire and Rescue NSW)

Learn more about the Disaster Challenge.