Community-based preparedness programmes and the 2009 Australian bushfires: policy implications derived from applying theory

Authors

  • Colin MacDougall,

    Corresponding author
    1. Associate Professor at the Discipline of Public Health and Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity, Flinders University, and a Principal Fellow (Honorary) at the Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program, McCaughey VicHealth Centre for Community Wellbeing, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
    • Correspondence Colin MacDougall, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, Australia. Telephone: + 61 4 3791 1139. Fax: +61 8 7221 8424. E-mail: colin.macdougall@flinders.edu.au.

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  • Lisa Gibbs,

    1. Associate Director at the Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program, McCaughey VicHealth Centre for Community Wellbeing, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
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  • Rachel Clark

    1. At the time of this study, Rachel Clark was a Research Fellow at Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program, McCaughey VicHealth Centre for Community Wellbeing, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
    2. She is now a Research Officer at the Centre of Excellence in Intervention and Prevention Science, Melbourne, Australia
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Abstract

The Victorian Country Fire Authority in Australia runs the Community Fireguard (CFG) programme to assist individuals and communities in preparing for fire. The objective of this qualitative research was to understand the impact of CFG groups on their members' fire preparedness and response during the 2009 Australian bushfires. Social connectedness emerged as a strong theme, leading to an analysis of data using social capital theory. The main strength of the CFG programme was that it was driven by innovative community members; however, concerns arose regarding the extent to which the programme covered all vulnerable areas, which led the research team to explore the theory of diffusion of innovation. The article concludes by stepping back from the evaluation and using both applied theories to reflect on broad options for community fire preparedness programmes in general. The exercise produced two contrasting options for principles underlying community fire preparedness programmes.

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