This qualitative research into long-term disaster resilience identifies what helps and hinders individual and community resilience in disasters. It documents the experiences and wisdom of 56 disaster survivors nine years after the 2009 Black Saturday fires and up to 50 years after earlier fires and floods in Victoria, including the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 94 years of age, and the disasters spanned bushfires and floods from 1943 to 2011.  The purpose of the research was to identify how individuals and communities understand the risk to long-term health and wellbeing that disaster experience brings, and how to promote resilience over decades.

Resilience may be a mix of individual characteristics, intersections of privilege, and the legacy of a lifetime’s experience. It is equally a twist of fate, and the difference between surviving with resilience, and not, appears to lie outside the survivors themselves. In acknowledging that long-term resilience is premised on effective disaster prevention and management, it sits with government to provide expert advice on areas of safe human habitation, and after disaster to promptly re-establish essential services. It sits with Australian women, men and children – led by those involved in emergency management– to engage in explicit discussions of gendered expectations, realistic expectations of government services, and human rights in the disaster context.

Underpinning resilience is the central importance of empathy and kindness.

Long-Term Disaster Resilience Report Launch

Long-term Disaster Resilience report launched in Wangaratta

The Gender and Disaster Pod (GAD Pod) team were excited to have Senator Linda Reynolds officially launch the partnership's new research report Long-term Disaster Resilience in Wangaratta last Friday. The launch follows the 10 year anniversary of the Black Saturday bushfires that devastated Victoria. Other prominent speakers at the launch were local MP, Cathy McGowan (Indi) and a statement from the Victorian Emergency Management Commissioner, Andrew Crisp.




Media Coverage


Ebsary, E. Crisp supports study. In the Border Mail, p. 6. (Subscription now required.)


Richards, S. Boiling point: the behavioural stormfront that follows disaster.


Anderson-Byrne, L. Flood and fire survivors tell their story of disaster impact: Unique report
highlights the importance of gender awareness in future planning. In The Chronicle, p. 4.


Ebsary, E. Life lessons from fire and flood. In the Border Mail, p. 4.


Kelly, S. Learning from disaster survival. In The Chronicle, p. 4.


Kelly, S. A long road back from the fires. In The Chronicle, p. 6.