Disaster Challenge opens for 2024 | Natural Hazards Research Australia

Disaster Challenge opens for 2024

Release date

9 May 2024

Do you want to flex your creative muscles to seek out ways to improve disaster resilience in Australia? Then the Disaster Challenge is calling out to you.

Open now, the 2024 Disaster Challenge seeks teams of the best and brightest early career researchers, postgraduate and undergraduate students across Australia to make a difference to the way we respond to bushfires, floods, storms and other natural hazards.  

If this sounds like you, then the Disaster Challenge wants to know what you can bring to disaster management in Australia.

Now in its third year, the Disaster Challenge has a brand new wicked problem to encourage new ideas, new thinking and new research. And the best bit? No prior experience or knowledge of disasters is required.

With a national final and prizes, what innovation can you and your team bring that Australia hasn’t done yet? Entries close 7 July.

The wicked problem

At the heart of society’s approach to disaster resilience are the notions of shared responsibility and community-led action, backed by scientific evidence and lived experience. This requires informed, trusted and effective relationships between people and organisations involved in preventing, preparing, responding and recovering from disasters, including climate change.

There are many ways to build and sustain mutual trust, however trust can be eroded by the decisions and actions of people, communities and organisations. In its place people and organisations can be disconnected, communication can break down and cynicism, doubt, isolation and non-participation can grow.

When trust is challenged the foundations of disaster resilience are threatened.

The Challenge

In a world where trust is both vital and fragile, how can we build and sustain trust across our whole society to drive the collective and coordinated actions that are fundamental to reducing the risks and impacts of disasters, and strengthening the safety, sustainability and resilience of all Australians?

Learn more, sign up for the online briefings

Got questions? Fear not! There are two online briefings, 30 May and 6 June, to answer your questions about the Disaster Challenge, connect individuals with potential teammates and outline the wicked problem and what makes it wicked.

Online briefing one: learn about the Disaster Challenge

30 May, 4pm AEST

Interested in participating but not yet sure? Keen to enter but after more specifics? Want to find others to collaborate with and form a team? Join us on 30 May if any of these questions sound like you. If you already have a team, bring them along.

Online briefing two: why is this problem wicked?

6 June, 4pm AEST

Learn more about the wicked problem and ask questions of practitioners and researchers with experience of the wicked problem to better understand it and refine your potential solutions. Connect with others who are thinking about similar problems and solutions.

Register for one of both briefings here

What could you gain from entering the Disaster Challenge? Watch 2023 winner Lydia Wardale explain why you should enter and how rewarding and inspiring she found being involved. Need further inspiration? Replay the pitches from the 2023 Disaster Challenge Final.

The Disaster Challenge will take place in three phases:

  • Enter your initial concept by 7 July: the judges will then review and select the best entries, and finalists will be notified the week of 29 July
  • Bring your idea to life: academic and industry mentors will support finalists in developing their idea to the next level
  • Finalists will pitch their brilliant ideas to a judging panel of disaster management experts at the Disaster Challenge Final in October 2024 in Western Australia

Why enter the Disaster Challenge? 

As an early career researcher, postgraduate or undergraduate student, this is a great opportunity to use your ideas to help change how we manage natural hazards. The judges are involved in day-to-day management of natural hazards around Australia and your ideas will help them work with communities to improve preparedness and resilience, save lives, protect property, keep people safe and recover better after disasters. Pitching your concept puts you in the running for a $5,000 cash prize and the opportunity to progress your idea further. This is an excellent opportunity to boost your credentials and advance your career, with extensive promotion of the winning concept. 

For more information on eligibility, how to enter and other details, visit disasterchallenge.com.au. Read and review the Guide for Entrants, available now on the website, for handy tips on how to get started.

The 2024 Disaster Challenge is coordinated by Natural Hazards Research Australia, hosted with support from universities and emergency management organisations around Australia.