A JFSP Fire Science Exchange Network
Bringing People Together & Sharing Knowledge in the Northern Rockies

Forging, protecting, and repairing community resilience informed by the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires

Author(s): Sancia West, Denis C. Visentin, Amanda Neil, Grad Dip, Rachel Kornhaber, Valerie Ingham, Michelle Cleary
Year Published: 2020

Natural disasters are inherently traumatic. The unexpected, unpredictable, threatening, and overwhelming nature of these events can be destabilising and distressing, potentially leading to psychological trauma (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, 2014). Psychological trauma encompasses how people respond to physical and psychological events that involve actual or life‐threatening situations resulting in an intense fear of helplessness (Flannery, 2015). Yet, the experience of psychological trauma is not inevitable, and indeed much can be done to ‘trauma‐proof’ communities and the many emergency service personnel who respond to such events. The experience of a natural disaster, such as the 2018 Californian 'wildfires' and the 'bushfires' currently occurring in Australia, provides the knowledge and context to inform all future trauma‐related preparations and responses to disaster experiences. Our premise is that if effectively trained, prepared, and supported, communities can consolidate and reinforce community resilience and social capital during natural disasters. Communities which continually enhance their resilience will have reduced likelihood of experiencing trauma and/or lowered degree to which trauma is experienced, which increases their capacity to respond more positively to future events.

Citation: West, Sancia; Visentin, Denis C.; Neil, Amanda; Dip, Grad; Kornhaber, Rachel; Ingham, Valerie; Cleary, Michelle. 2020. Forging, protecting, and repairing community resilience informed by the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires. Journal of Advanced Nursing 76(5):1095-1097. https://doi.org/10.1111/jan.14306
Topic(s): Fire Communication & Education, Fire Effects, Human Dimensions of Fire Management, Psychological Safety, Wildland Urban Interface
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 21172
FRAMES RCS number: 60696
Record updated: May 5, 2020