Natural Disasters and Evacuations as a Communication and Social Phenomenon

  • Douglas GoudieEmail author
Reference work entry
Part of the Encyclopedia of Complexity and Systems Science Series book series (ECSSS)



A group of neighbors or people with a commonality of association and generally defined by location, shared experience, or function (Lichtenberg and Maclean 1991).

Community empowerment

Internally and externally nurtures a community to accept that residents live in a hazard zone, and they choose to do things as a group to maximize their safety.

Community safety group

Existing community groups (such as neighborhood watch) and individuals, working with formal response organizations, form a coherent affiliation in and near a hazard zone, to help maximize safety and care for all community members.


The interface between an extreme physical event and a vulnerable human population (Skertchly and Skertchly 2000).

Disaster lead time

The time taken from first detection of a natural disaster threat to the likely time of impact on humans or human structures.

Disaster threat

A natural extreme event which may impact on a community.

Effective risk communication

That which...



I most thank my research guardian and mentor over 15 years, Prof. David King, director of both the Australian Center for Disaster Studies and of the Center for Tropical Urban and Regional Planning. David allowed me freedom to develop as an “evidence-based” scientist, to conceive core approaches to sustainability implementation research, productive in helping render positive change in both disaster management and sustainability planning. Thanks to Australian Bureau of Meteorology staff for their interactive support to improve risk communications, listening to what real people in real hazard zones experience, how they hear warnings, and how the medium and the messages can be and are optimized. The Bureau embraces the core goal to motivate safety-oriented action by people in hazard zones. The Bureau listens and improves the message and the delivery. The bushfire research of 2006 and 2007 was funded by the Australian Bushfire Cooperative Research Center, supported by the University of Tasmania. The 14 years of research reported in this article was not possible without the contributions of authorities and more than 1000 Australians, old and new, who opened their organizations or doors to myself or research team members and shared their hazard experiences and specific warning needs. Thanks all.


Primary Literature

  1. ACF (2004) Institutions for sustainability. Australian Conservation Foundation ACF, pp 1–37Google Scholar
  2. AMCORD (1995) AMCORD95, Australian model code of residential development. Department of Housing and Regional Development. Aust Govt Printing Service, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  3. Australian Bushfire CRC (2005) Bushfire CRC/research/community self sufficiency for fire safety/effective risk communication. Accessed 2008
  4. Baram M (1991) Rights and duties concerning the availability of environmental risk information to the public. In: Kasperson RE, Stallen PJM (eds) Communicating risks to the public – international perspectives. Kluwer, Dordrecht, p 481Google Scholar
  5. BBC (2005) Access to 2008, In pictures: Hurricane onslaught
  6. BBC (2007) Californians flee as fires rage
  7. Berry L, King D (1998) Tropical cyclone awareness and education issues for far North Queensland school students – storm watchers. Aust J Emerg Manag 13:6Google Scholar
  8. Boughton GN (1992) Education on natural hazards, the Macedon digest. Aust J Disaster Manag 7(2):4–7Google Scholar
  9. Boura J (1998) Community fireguard: creating partnerships with the community to minimise the impact of bushfire. Aust J Emerg Manag 13:59–64Google Scholar
  10. Bruntland GH (1988) Our common future. The World Commission for the Environment and Development. Alianza Publications., Accessed 2008
  11. Cairns City Council (2006) Storm tide maps.
  12. Carlson JM, Alderson DL, Stromberg SP, Bassett DS, Craparo EM, Gutierrez-Villarreal F, Otani T (2013) Measuring and modeling behavioral decision dynamics in collective evacuation. arXiv preprint arXiv:1304.4704Google Scholar
  13. Chamberlain ER, Hartshorn AE, Muggleston H, Short P, Svensson H, Western JS (1981a) Queensland flood report Australia day (1974). Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, p 38Google Scholar
  14. Chamberlain ER, Doube L, Milne G, Rolls M, Western JS (1981b) The experience of cyclone tracy. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, p 150Google Scholar
  15. Cialdini R, Reno R, Kallgren C (1990) A focus theory of normative conduct: recycling the concept of norms to reduce littering in public places. J Pers Soc Psychol 58(6):1015–1026CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. COAG (2004) Natural disasters in Australia, reforming mitigation, relief and recovery arrangements.$file/COAG+Report+on+Natural+Disasters+in+Australia+-+August+2002.pdf. Accessed 2008, Council of Australian Governments Commonwealth of Australia, 201
  17. Cohen E, White P, Hughes P (2006) Bushfire and the media reports 1–3. Latrobe University and BCRC, La Trobe UniversityGoogle Scholar
  18. Cronan K (1998) Foundations of emergency management. Aust J Emerg Manag 1(13):20–23Google Scholar
  19. Cuthill M (2004) Community well-being – the ultimate goal of democratic governance. Qld Plan 44(2):8–11Google Scholar
  20. Cutter SL, Boruff BJ, Shirley WL (2003) Social vulnerability to environmental hazards. Soc Sci Q 84(2):242–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. DIMIA (2004) Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous AffairsGoogle Scholar
  22. Dolphin RR, Richard R, Ying F (2000) Is corporate communications a strategic function. Manag Decis 38(2):99–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dominick JR (1993) The dynamics of mass communication. Mc Graw-Hill, Columbus, p 616Google Scholar
  24. Douglas M (1992) Risk and blame. Essays in cultural theory. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  25. Drabek TE (1994) Disaster evacuation and the tourist industry, Program on environment and behaviour monograph 57. University of Colorado, ColoradoGoogle Scholar
  26. Dunlap RE, Van Liere KD (1978) The ‘new environmental paradigm’: a proposed measuring instrument and preliminary results. J Environ Ed 9(4):10–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. ECAP (1997) Guidelines for disaster prevention and preparedness in tropical cyclone areas. Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the World Meteorological Organisation and the Red Cross Societies, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  28. EMA (2000) Emergency risk management applications guide, The Australian Emergency Manuals Series. Emergency Management Australia, Dickson, p 4Emergency Management AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  29. EMA (2002a) Research agenda for emergency management. March. EMA research and development strategy for “safer sustainable communities”. Emergency Management Australia, DicksonGoogle Scholar
  30. EMA (2002b) Indigenous communities and emergency management. Emergency Management Australia, Canberra, p 22Google Scholar
  31. EMA (2002c) Guidelines for emergency managers working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Accessed 2013
  32. EMAI (1998) Emergency management Australia information service. Report of the strategic planning conference on the development of enhanced awareness education programs and materials for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Darwin, May 1997. In: Conference proceedings, EMA, Mt MacedonGoogle Scholar
  33. Fien J (1993) Education for the environment – critical curriculum theorising and environmental education. Deakin University, GeelongGoogle Scholar
  34. Finnis K, Johnston D, Paton D (2004) Volcanic hazard risk perceptions in New Zealand. Tephra, earth and atmospheric sciences. University of Alberta, Edmonton, pp 60–64.$file/volcanichazardrisk.pdf, 2008
  35. Fowler KL, Kling ND, Larson MD (2007) Eigenvalues. Bus Soc 46:1. March. 88–103. Sage PublicationsCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Goldammer J (2005) Wildland fire – rising threats and vulnerabilities at the interface with society. In: United Nations Tudor Rose, Jeggle T, United Nations (eds) Know risk. UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN-ISDR), Geneva , pp 322–323376 pGoogle Scholar
  37. Goudie D (2001) Toward sustainable urban travel. PhD thesis, James Cook University., 2008
  38. Goudie D (2004) Disruptive weather warnings and weather knowledge in remote Australian indigenous communities. Web-based report., 2008
  39. Goudie D (2005) Sustainability planning: pushing against institutional barriers. Ecosystems and sustainable development V. WIT Press. WIT Trans Ecol Environ 81(5):215–224., 2008Google Scholar
  40. Goudie D (2007a) Transport and evacuation planning. In: King D, Cottrell A (eds) Communities living with hazards. Centre for Disaster Studies, James Cook University with Queensland Department of Emergency Services, Townsville, pp 48–62. 293Google Scholar
  41. Goudie D (2007b) Oral histories about weather hazards in northern Australia. In: King D, Cottrell A (eds) Communities living with hazards. Centre for Disaster Studies, James Cook University with Queensland Department of Emergency Services, Townsville, pp 102–125. 293Google Scholar
  42. Goudie D, King D (1999) Cyclone surge and community preparedness. Aust J Emerg Manag 13(1):454–460.
  43. Gurmankin AD, Baron J, Armstrong K (2004) Intended message versus received message in hypothetical physician risk communication: exploring the gap. Risk Anal 24(5):1337–1347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Handmer J (1992) Can we have too much warning time? A study of Rockhampton, Australia. The Macedon digest. Aust J Disaster Manag 7:2. p 8–10Google Scholar
  45. Handmer J (2000) Are flood warnings futile? Risk Commun Emerg 2(e):1–14., 2008
  46. Handmer J (2001) Improving flood warnings in Europe: a research and policy agenda. Environ Hazards 3(2001):19–28Google Scholar
  47. Heller K, Alexander DB, Gatz M, Knight BG, Rose T (2005) Social and personal factors as predictors of earthquake preparation: the role of support provision, network discussion, negative affect, age, and education. J Appl Soc Psychol 35(2):399–422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Hoeting JA, Madigan D, Raftery AE, Volinsky CT (1999) Bayesian model averaging: a tutorial. Stat Sci 14(4):382–417MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. IPA (1997) The integrated planning act. Queensland Government, Now Sustainable Planning Act 2009., 2013
  50. ISR (2007) Australian policyonline. Institute for Social Research, Swinburne University of Technology, [1]
  51. Jarach M (1989) Overview of the literature on barriers to the diffusion of renewable energy sources in agriculture. Appl En 32(2):117–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Kasperson RE, Stallen PJM (1991) Communicating risks to the public international perspectives. Kluwer, DordrechtCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Kikuchi T, Nakamori Y (2007) Agent model analysis to explore effects of interaction and environment on individual performance. J Syst Sci Complex 20:1–17. Springer Science + Business Media, IncCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Kim YC, Ball-Rokeach SJ (2006) Civic engagement from a communication infrastructure perspective. Commun Theory 16:173–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. King D, Goudie D (1998) Breaking through the disbelief – the March 1997 floods at Cloncurry. Even the duck swam away. Aust J Emerg Manag 4(12):29–33Google Scholar
  56. King D, Goudie D (2006) Cyclone Larry, March 2006 post disaster residents survey. Centre for Disaster Studies, James Cook University, with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology P77.
  57. King D, Goudie D, Dominey-Howes D (2006) Cyclone knowledge and household preparation – some insights from cyclone Larry report on how well Innisfail prepared for cyclone Larry. Aust J Emerg Manag 21:3, 52–59. Accessed June 2013
  58. Kitchin RM (1996) Increasing the integrity of cognitive mapping research: appraising conceptual schemata of environment-behaviour interaction. Prog Hum Geogr 20(1):56–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Kobb P (2000) Emergency risk management applications guide. Emerg Manag Aust, Dickson: Emergency Management Australia. Australian Emergency Manuals Series; 05.
  60. Leibovitz J (2003) Institutional barriers to associative city-region governance: the politics of institution-building and economic governance in ‘Canada’s Technology Triangle’. Urban Stud 40(13):2613–2642CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Lewis C (2006) Risk management and prevention strategies. Aust J Emerg Manag 21(3):47–51Google Scholar
  62. Lichtenberg J, Maclean D (1991) The role of the media in risk communication. In: Kasperson RE, Stallen PJM (eds) Communicating risks to the public – international perspectives. Kluwer, Dordrecht, p 481Google Scholar
  63. Lidstone J (2006) Blazer to the rescue! The role of puppetry in enhancing fire prevention and preparedness for young children. Aust J Emerg Manag 21(2):17–28Google Scholar
  64. Loudness RS (1977) Tropical cyclones in the Australian region July 1909 to June 1975. AGPS, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  65. McKenna F (1993) It won’t happen to me: unrealistic optimism or illusion of control. Br J Psychol 84:39–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Mornington Peninsula Shire Council (2006) Fire wise fire management.
  67. Munro DA (1995) Ecologically sustainable development – is it possible? How will we recognise it? In: Sivakumar M, Messer J (eds) Protecting the future – ESD in action. Futureworld, WollongongGoogle Scholar
  68. Napurrurlarlu NO, Jakamarrarlu NP (1988) Ngawarra-Kurlu. Yuendumu B.R.D.U., Darwin, p 19Google Scholar
  69. NDSI Working Group (2000) Effective disaster warnings. Working Group on Natural Disaster Information Systems. Subcommittee on Natural Disaster Reduction National Science and Technology Council Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. Executive Office of the President of the United States of America, 56Google Scholar
  70. O’Neill P (2004) Why don’t they listen – developing a risk communication model to promote community safety behaviour. The International Emergency Management Society, 11th Annual Conference Proceedings, Melbourne, May 18–21 2004. pp 160–169Google Scholar
  71. Paton D (2003) Stress in disaster response: a risk management approach. Disaster Prev Manag 12(3):203–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Paton D, Smith L, Johnston D (2005) When good intentions turn bad: promoting natural hazard preparedness. Aust J Emerg Manag 20:25–30Google Scholar
  73. Phillips R (1994) Long range planning. London 27(4):143–145Google Scholar
  74. QG & QES (2003) State planning policy. Mitigating the adverse impacts of flood, bushfire and landslide. State planning policy 1/03. Dept Local Government and planning, & Dept of Emergency Services.
  75. Quarantelli EL (2002) The role of the mass communication system in natural and technological disasters and possible extrapolation to terrorism situations. Risk Manag Int J 4(4):7–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Queensland Government (1997) Integrated planning act.
  77. Raggatt P, Butterworth E, Morrissey S (1993) Issues in natural disaster management: community response to the threat of tropical cyclones in Australia. Disaster Prev Manag 2(3):12–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Renn O, Levine D (1991) Credibility and trust in risk communication. In: Kasperson RE, Stallen PJM (eds) Communicating risks to the public – international perspectives. Kluwer, Dordrecht, p 481Google Scholar
  79. Renn O, Rohrmann B (2000) Cross-cultural risk perception, a survey of empirical studies. Kluwer, Dordrecht, p 240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Rohrmann B (2000) A socio-psychological model for analysing risk communication processes. Aust J Disaster Trauma Stud 2000(2).
  81. Rounsefell V (1992) Unified human settlement ecology. In: Birkeland J (ed) Design for sustainability: a sourcebook of integrated eco-logical solutions, vol S4.2. Earthscan Publications, London, pp 78–83Google Scholar
  82. Salter J (1992) The nature of the disaster – more than just the meanings of words: some reflections on definitions, doctrine and concepts. The Macedon digest. Aust J Disaster Manag 7(2):1–3Google Scholar
  83. Salter J, Bally J, Elliott J, Packham D (1993) Natural disasters: protecting vulnerable communities. In: Merriman PA, Browitt CW (eds) Conference proceedings. Royal Society (Great Britain), London13–15 October 1993Google Scholar
  84. Sheppard E (1986) Modelling and predicting aggregate flows. In: Hanson S (ed) The geography of urban transportation. Guilford Press, New York, pp 91–110Google Scholar
  85. Skertchly A, Skertchly K (2000) Message sticks – hazard mitigation visual language. EMA, ACT, Dickson, Australian Capital TerritoryGoogle Scholar
  86. Sorenson J, Mileti D (1991) Risk communication in emergencies. In: Kasperson RE, Stallen PJM (eds) Communicating risks to the public – international perspectives. Kluwer, Dordrecht, p 481Google Scholar
  87. Stern P (1992) Psychological dimensions of global environmental change. Annu Rev Psychol 43:269–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Stern PC, Fineberg HV (1996) Understanding risk, informing decisions in a democratic society. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, p 249Google Scholar
  89. Sullivan M (2003) Communities and their experience of emergencies. Aust J Emerg Manag 18(1):19–26Google Scholar
  90. Svenson O (1991) The time dimension in perception and communication of risk. In: Kasperson RE, Stallen PJM (eds) Communicating risks to the public – international perspectives. Kluwer, Dordrecht, p 481Google Scholar
  91. Thompson KM (2002) Variability and uncertainty meet risk management and risk communication. Risk Anal 22(3):647–654CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Utemorrah D (1980) How the people were all drown. In: Mowanjum (ed) Visions of Mowanjum: aboriginal writings from the Kimberley. Rigby, AdelaideGoogle Scholar
  93. Utemorrah D, Clendon M (2000) Dumbi the owl. In: Kimberley Language Resource Centre (ed) Worrorra Lalai, Worrorra dreamtime stories. KLRC, Halls Creek, p 113Google Scholar
  94. Wakefield SE, Elliot SJ (2003) Constructing the news: the role of local newspapers in environmental risk communication. Prof Geogr 55(2):216–266Google Scholar
  95. Wall M (2006) The case study method and management learning: making the most of a strong story telling tradition in emergency services management education. Aust J Emerg Manag 21(2):11–16Google Scholar
  96. Walmsley DJ (1988) Urban living, the individual in the city. Longman scientific and technical, Longman, London, p 104Google Scholar
  97. Woods F, Gabriel P (2005) Individual responsibility and state-wide strategies: bushfire in Victoria, Australia. In: Jeggle T (ed) Know risk. United Nations, Tudor Rose, pp 326–328. Leicester, LE1 5RA, UK 376Google Scholar
  98. Yates J (1992) Assisting the community to plan: a pilot program in Western Australia. The Macedon digest. Aust J Disaster Manag 7(2):12Google Scholar
  99. Yates J (1997) Federalism and disaster mitigation in remote aboriginal communities in Western Australia. Spring, AJEM, 25–32, Emergency Management Australia, Mt Macedon Victoria Australia. Publisher: Grey Worldwide Canberra AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  100. Yeo S (2002) Natural hazards. Flooding in Australia: a review of events in 1998. 25:177–191. Department of Physical Geography, Macquarie University, NSW, Natural Hazards 25(2):177–191, 2002. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
  101. Zamecka A, Buchanan G (2000) Disaster risk management. Queensland Department of Emergency Services, Brisbane, p 115Google Scholar

Books and Reviews

  1. ABC (2006) Bushfire summer. Australian Broadcasting Commission, Melbourne.
  2. Australian Bureau of Meteorology (2008) Protecting yourself and your home. Bushfire weather. BoM, Melbourne.
  3. Bushnell S, Cottrell A, Spillman M, Lowe D (2006) Thuringowa bushfire case study. Understanding communities, Project BCRC Program C Community self-sufficiency for fire safety. Bushfire CRC, JCU CDS, TownsvilleGoogle Scholar
  4. CFA (2008) Country fire authority. Melbourne.
  5. ESA (2008) Community education. Emergency Services Agency, Australian Capital Territory.
  6. FEMA (2008) Prepare for a wildfire. Federal Emergency Management Agency. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC.
  7. Geoscience Australia (2005) Sentinel. Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.
  8. Granger KJ, Smith DI (1995) Storm tide impact and consequence modelling: some preliminary observations. Math Comput Model 21(9):15–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Roth W (1897) Ethnological studies among the North West Central Queensland aborigines. Queensland government, BrisbaneGoogle Scholar
  10. Rural Fire Service (2008) Fire safety information. New South Wales rural fire service. NSW Government, Sydney. NSW Rural Fire Service, with information in 27 languages

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesJames Cook University, Australian Centre for Disaster StudiesTownsvilleAustralia

Personalised recommendations