Disaster Resilience Project Could Help Conquer Fear

PHOTO: robstephaustralia (Flikr)

The proposal for James Cook University’s Community Disaster Resilience Project has gained support from the Townsville City Council.

AFTERMATH: A young girl explores the ruins after Cyclone Yasi
PHOTO: Mr Billiam (Flikr)

By Jasmin Fry

The Community Disaster Resilience Project, led by James Cook University researchers, aims to deliver a teaching program in local schools to assist children improve their resilience to natural disasters.

James Cook University researcher Dr Helen Boon and Council Emergency Management manager Allen Morris will collaborate to bring the project to three local state primary schools.

Preparing students, teachers and parents

Lead researcher and senior JCU education lecturer Dr Helen Boon came up with the idea for the Community Disaster Resilience Project after undertaking a similar project analysing community resilience after natural disasters in Ingham, Innsifail, Beechworth and Bendigo.

“Results from that project suggested one of the most important things (for disaster resilience) is education and prior experience,” she said.

“We want to help our local community because we are likely to have more natural disasters, unfortunately.”

Dr Boon said the project would include the delivery of a teaching program and various activities to help the community be prepared for disasters and be able to face them without fear.

She said the project would prepare students, teachers and parents with skills to cope with, and live through, disasters.

“For me, the main aim is to engage families and it will be great to have children involved,” Dr Boon said.

“I think it’s good to improve teachers’ understanding and knowledge on disasters, but ideally I want the parents to be engaged with the schools as well.

“Some families don’t have a lot of connections, so it would be good for them to feel comfortable to go to the school and know they can get information to help prepare themselves.”

DESTRUCTION: A tree down over Bowen Rd after Cyclone Yasi
PHOTO: robstephaustralia (Flikr)

More natural disasters in the future

Townsville City Council Emergency Management manager Allen Morris has been working closely with Dr Boon and other JCU researchers.

Mr Morris has previously delivered disaster management education sessions to local schools with the Emergency Management group, and said teachers often told him how beneficial they believed the sessions were.

“A lot of teachers comment on how great they think these sessions are because they often don’t have a deep understanding on these issues,” he said.