Disasters and emergency events disrupt the foundations of our daily life. We are conducting research to build resilience and promote stability in times of crisis.
The Torrens Resilience Initiative (TRI) is one of Australia’s longest-standing research initiatives dedicated to disaster preparedness and management. Our research is advancing the concept of resilience and helping organisations, communities and nations balance disaster preparedness and prevention, response and recovery.
Our research advises and guides government policy, prepares communities and empowers people to minimise the impacts of possible natural hazards, health and security risks or humanitarian and other emergencies in Australia and around the world.
The diversity of Australian landscapes puts the country at risk of a wide range of natural hazard events; from bushfires to cyclones, flooding to drought. Our research highlights the importance of community cohesion in disaster planning, and we have developed a balanced Community Disaster Resilience Scorecard to help communities work together in preparing for disaster threats.
We have supported the implementation of the Scorecard in communities around Australia as part of community-based emergency preparedness. In Melton and Wyndham Council in Melbourne, more than 124 community members and leaders joined workshops and completed the Scorecard. The Councils won the Resilient Australia Award for a coordinated community response to potential emergencies.
We assist governments, organisations and communities ensure their disaster management plans account for a broad range of disruptive challenges and include specific consideration of vulnerable groups. People living with disability, older people, CALD communities and communities in remote and rural areas have specific needs relevant to disaster planning and management.
One of our research projects includes mitigation for loss of power supply to aged care facilities. We developed guidance on the selection and installation of generators to ensure access to heating, cooling, and lighting, safe storage of medicines and sustained use of medical equipment during failure of power supply. This work is complemented by a new toolkit and scorecard developed by TRI for aged care facilities to assess their resilience to bushfires, floods and earthquakes.
Our research informs Australian and international governments on policy and capacity for national security risks including mass gathering health and security, resilience of critical infrastructure and issues of interest to Defence.
Responding to terrorist threats to use chemicals or toxins to attack communities, including the use of chemical weapons in Syria, we hosted a global meeting of 22 Nation State representatives and several United Nations agencies to discuss health and security responses to this emerging threat. We worked with the group to inform the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for health systems and supported development of coordination and response training to forge stronger collaboration among regional networks and responsible agencies.
Conflict and catastrophic natural events can lead to humanitarian crises including the spread of disease, unregulated population movement, declining food production and reduced arable land. We are conducting research to help achieve foreign policy and humanitarian objectives in Australia and countries in South East Asia and the Pacific Rim.
We worked with WHO during the Ebola outbreaks in West Africa to develop guidelines for the management of the Ebola threat during large sporting events – such as the West Africa Games. Our extensive research in mass gathering health and disaster planning and management helped ensure the safe conduct of the Games and helped to avoid cancellation of the event or exclusion of teams representing Ebola-affected countries. We further provided expert support for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated us a WHO Collaborating Centre for Mass Gathering and Global Health Security.
We are looking at holistic approaches to risk assessment to encapsulate the nature of the hazard or event better, degree of exposure or damage, the extent of vulnerability and considering response capacity.
Our research is building knowledge around the many factors influencing or governing risk to enhance prevention, preparedness and response planning and management.
We are looking at the barriers and opportunities to achieve a balanced environment for information risk and resilience decision-making in public and private sectors and when communicating with individuals and communities during emergencies and in disaster planning.
We are providing evidence-based disaster management for communities, businesses, individuals and government and looking at new ways to share this information with the wider public.
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