To increase community resilience to bushfires, people need a better understanding of how government policy and public perceptions interact. There is a need for a better understanding of how the expectations of service providers, communities and agencies agree or differ.
Using the urban community living in a forested environment at Thuringowa in Townsville as a case study, this project developed methods to enhance agreement and resolve differences that resulted from different expectations within bushfire-prone communities. They were then evaluated for their effectiveness in meeting the needs of communities and service providers for bushfire mitigation, response and recovery.
The project developed a better understanding of community perceptions and attitudes to bushfires and incorporated research from other hazard studies that can be successfully adapted to these communities. This was evident in the 2007 book Communities Living with Hazards, co-edited by project leader Dr Alison Cottrell at James Cook University, which included much of the work of this project. Regular bulletins kept research colleagues and agencies up to date with the progress of this project.
The project also helped agencies to profile their at risk communities – Dr Cottrell produced a Know Your Patch, Grow Your Patch guide for this task. It worked on developing guidelines for working with disadvantaged communities including Indigenous communities in Cape York, and Sudanese communities in Townsville.