Disaster Resilience Education – Educating the Educators

I had a great time at the recent Slide2Learn conference in Perth. There were some fabulous keynotes, lots of interesting workshops and the opportunity to meet inspiring educators.

I was there with an ulterior motive, to publicise the project I am working on with Australian Red Cross in conjunction with Australian Emergency Management Institute (AEMI). The project is about Disaster Resilience Education and aims to develop teacher confidence in the teaching of disaster resilience education and thus develop disaster resilience within primary and secondary school students.

Some background:

The incidence of natural hazards – bushfire, flood, cyclone etc – is on the increase. More people are being affected every year and the cost to the community is growing.


Reports such as the Black Saturday Royal Commission, the Keelty Report and APEC Ministerial Statements have noted the importance of community engagement and education.


Government and Emergency Management Agencies are increasingly aware that assistance cannot be guaranteed in the immediate aftermath of an emergency or even for 24 hours or more after an event. Communities need to be prepared and know how to respond.

Disaster Resilience has a four stage cycle known as PPRR

Prevention – identifying hazards and removing if possible

Preparation – having a fire plan, preparing an emergency kit, making an evacuation plan

Response – responding to the immediate needs of the emergency situation

Recovery – the actions needed to return to normal, whether or not that is the same as before.

Disaster resilience is enabled by the understanding and ability to enact these four stages.

Disaster Resilience Education (DRE)

Educating children is a way of indirectly influencing families and communities – children encourage their family members to act, and they help connect families with communities. Disaster resilience is important for every member of society, regardless of age or physical ability or where they live. Children can change long term behaviour to build more resilient communities, and resilient children will become resilient adults.

To be effective DRE needs to part of the curriculum, not an add-on, not “yet another thing we’re expected to teach”. The project seeks to use the development of the new Australian curriculum as a means to embed the teaching of DRE across curriculum areas and general capabilities. We want teachers to have an understanding of and be able to articulate what DRE is and why it is important

To achieve this firstly we are mapping existing Australian DRE resources to the Australian Curriculum. Many of these resources have been created by Emergency Management Agencies. The report from this exercise will be used to develop pathways for teachers so they can select the best resources to use with their students. We will also provide information to Emergency Management agencies about where their resources fit the curriculum and where there are opportunities for improvement and new development.

Secondly, we will be designing and delivering professional development for teachers to promote the disaster resilience message and to share and explore available resources. Some of this will be in person at various conferences but I also plan to create some online resources and I’d love to work with teachers and students to do so.

Billie Hassett by ABC News, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  ABC News 


Can you help?

Do you know of any conferences, network meetings, or other opportunities where I would be welcome to present? I’d love to hear about them - I am able to travel for this purpose.

Do you have an interest in disasters? Are you and your students looking for a real-life project where you can make a difference? Could you and your students work with me to create resources like videos, games, ebooks to help spread the DRE messages to teachers and students?

Please get in touch!

Reply to this post, send a tweet to @hbailie, email hbailie at or download the project app where you can leave a message under “Share your thoughts”. I’d love to hear from you.

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Comment by Deon Scanlon on May 1, 2013 at 5:08pm
17 views already. Hope it gets plenty more!

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