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Title: The Australian Natural Disaster Resilience Index: Conceptual framework and indicator Approach
Contributor(s): Parsons, Melissa  (author)orcid ; Morley, Phil  (author); Marshall, Graham  (author); Hastings, Peter (author); Glavac, Sonya  (author); Stayner, Richard  (author); McNeill, Judith  (author); McGregor, James  (author); Reeve, Ian  (author)
Publication Date: 2016-02
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: Natural hazard management policy directions in Australia – and indeed internationally – are increasingly being aligned to ideas of resilience. There are many definitions of resilience in relation to natural hazards within a contested academic discourse (Klein et al., 2003; Wisner et al., 2004; Boin et al., 2010; Tierney, 2014). Broadly speaking, resilience to natural hazards is the ability of individuals and communities to cope with disturbances or changes and to maintain adaptive behaviour (Maguire and Cartwright, 2008). Building resilience to natural hazards requires the capacity to cope with the event and its aftermath, as well as the capacity to learn about hazard risks, change behaviour, transform institutions and adapt to a changing environment (Maguire and Cartwright, 2008). The shift from a risk-based approach to managing natural hazards towards ideas of disaster resilience reflects the uncertainty associated with predicting the location and impacts of natural hazard events, the inevitability of natural hazard events, and the uncertainty of future natural hazard risks in a changing climate and population.
The emergency management community sits at the forefront of operationalizing ideas of disaster resilience. Australia’s National Strategy for Disaster Resilience champions a resilience based approach to the challenges posed by natural hazards. Emergency management and other government agencies involved in hazard management are also adopting principles of natural hazard resilience in policies, strategic planning and community engagement (e.g. Queensland Reconstruction Authority, 2012). It is in light of the need to operationalize the concept of disaster resilience that we are developing the Australian Natural Disaster Resilience Index.
The index is a tool for assessing the resilience of communities to natural hazards at a large scale. It is designed specifically to assess resilience to natural hazards – not derived for another purpose then modified to suit a resilience focus. The assessment inputs in several ways to macro-level policy, strategic planning, community planning and community engagement activities at National, State and local government levels. First, it is a snapshot of the current state of natural hazard resilience at a national scale. Second, it is a layer of information for use in strategic policy development and planning. Third, it provides a benchmark against which to assess future change in resilience to natural hazards. Understanding resilience strengths and weaknesses will help communities, governments and organizations to build the capacities needed for living with natural hazards.
There are two principal approaches to assessing disaster resilience using an index. Bottom-up approaches are locally based and locally driven and are qualitative self-assessments of disaster resilience (Committee on Measures of Community Resilience, 2015). Bottom-up approaches survey individuals or communities using a scorecard consisting of indicators of disaster resilience such as preparation, exposure to specific hazards, community resources and communication (e.g. Arbon, 2014). In contrast, top-down approaches are often intended for use at broad scales by an oversight body (Committee on Measures of Community Resilience, 2015) and use secondary spatial sources such as census data to quantitatively derive indicators that describe the inherent characteristics of a community that contribute to disaster resilience (Cutter et al., 2010). It is important to align the approach used with the purpose of the resilience assessment because bottom-up and top-down approaches both have a point of spatial or conceptual limitation beyond which conclusions about resilience are no longer valid. A framework that outlines the philosophical underpinnings of a project, linked to the mechanisms used to collect and interpret data, can help to scope and define relevant assessment approaches. A framework is an important tool for a resilience assessment because it defines the boundaries - the why, what and how - around the evidence that we use to derive our assessment of natural hazard resilience.
In this document we set out the framework for the Australian Natural Disaster Resilience Index. The framework outlines the conceptual underpinnings of our approach – why we are doing what we are doing – then explains what we will assess about resilience using data aligned to our resilience philosophy. We then briefly explain how we intend to measure these data and the indicators that we will collect to form the index.
Publication Type: Report
Publisher: Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC
Place of Publication: Melbourne, Australia
Field of Research (FoR) 2008: 040699 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 961005 Natural Hazards in Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Environments
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: R1 Report
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Extent of Pages: 26
Appears in Collections:Institute for Rural Futures
School of Environmental and Rural Science
School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
School of Psychology

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