Developing our research priorities and partnerships

A promotional graphic showing screenshots of the Natural Hazards Research Australia research priorities workshops and a heading that says Discussion paper.

30 September 2021, by Dr Richard Thornton

The first few months for us at Natural Hazards Research Australia have seen plenty happening, although not all the activities have been visible to everyone. Now into the third month of the establishment phase, we are continuing to connect with a range of people and organisations to build a picture of what natural hazards research could look like over the coming decade.

Much of what we’ve been doing has been with targeted groups, but that will now expand to bring a wider cohort into the process, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to explain some of the developments so far and provide information about the process to come.

Developing our research priorities

The main priority for the new Centre is the development of the research priorities that will inform the initial research agenda.

In what has been a highly collaborative and intensive period, the Centre ran eight online workshops that were well-attended by partners and prospective partners from federal, state and local governments, emergency management agencies, various infrastructure and private sector organisations, and the not-for-profit sector. While these workshops were focused on the eight initial research themes, there is one further workshop to come that will focus on the unique issues that northern Australia faces when dealing with natural hazards. Details of the workshops and the research themes can be found here.

For end-users

These workshops and an earlier survey were the beginning of the process of defining the Centre’s initial research priorities, to ensure that the Centre addresses the most relevant and current issues for our partners. The huge volume of feedback received is being synthesised into a cohesive discussion paper about research priorities, which will be widely circulated for your further input and comment early next week.

For researchers

The workshops focused on the needs and priorities of the Centre’s end-user partners and prospective partners, as with both the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and Bushfire CRC before, this meets the Australian Government funding requirement that the research must be end-user driven to meet end-user needs. Now, research organisations and researchers will be invited to be involved by reviewing the research priorities in the discussion paper – are they clear, could they be improved, do you know of current research that is addressing the priorities, what new research is needed?

The discussion paper will be distributed shortly and will be open for comments for a number of weeks. This phase will ensure that significant research needs have not been missed and that the priorities identified in the survey and workshops reflect the national needs.

We want to make sure we capture as many perspectives and priorities as we can, so if you want to be part of this collaboration, please drop us an email at and we’ll add you to the list to receive the discussion paper.

Staffing and governance

We have been advertising for new staff and directors, as we work to create our national team. This will continue as we establish the Centre, so if you’re keen to get involved in this way, I’d encourage you to keep an eye out for new vacancies over the next few months. We will be sharing these on our interim website, across social media (@HazardsResearch) and in this newsletter. Our current openings include a Research and Implementation Director (any capital city), two Node Managers (Sydney and Brisbane) and two Research Services Project Officers (Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane). The Research Services Project Officer positions close on 3 October while the Research and Implementation Director and Node Manager positions will be open until filled.

Forming partnerships

The Centre has also been in discussions with many organisations to form new partnerships, and there is great excitement and enthusiasm for what the Centre can be and the new research questions that can be addressed over the next 10 years. This is a great sign of a bright future in front of us. Now is the time to contact us if you or your organisation are keen to be a partner in the new Centre.

Promoting final CRC research

We are still regularly rolling out the important research of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, including reports, resources and Hazard Notes. This will continue as research projects are completed and new industry-ready resources become available.

Did you see the communications and warnings documentary series, profiling the important community engagement and warnings research from the CRC? The series shows the impact of this research and follows communications and engagement practitioners from different sectors as they meet with researchers and learn how they can apply this knowledge to their own work. I encourage you to take a look at the series, as it really highlights the impact that research can have and the actions it can lead to.

There have been plenty of other resources published recently, including:

  • the new Dynamic Exposure Dashboard for the Australian Exposure Information Platform by Geoscience Australia, to display show nationally consistent exposure information in the path of a hazard.
  • research-backed storytelling resources that share Indigenous perspectives on what cultural burning means, developed by Western Sydney University and the Australian National University.
  • the After the Disaster podcast series by the ABC, University of Melbourne and the Australian Red Cross, drawing on CRC expertise.

There are still more important pieces of work to be launched from the CRC, especially from the Black Summer projects that we conducted with additional Australian Government funding, so be sure to watch out for these.