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Bushfire & Community Resilience | International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction

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Event description


To help drive constructive and supportive conversations around the ABC’s new drama series FIRES, this event will feature an expert panel of series consultants and researchers from Natural Hazards Research Australia.

Bringing you the latest information from the most recent research, your panel will unpack bushfire risk reduction through preparation, caring for your mental health and recovery, before answering the questions that matter most to you.

Tapping into key themes from the series, the panellists will explore the essential role of community in building resilience. From helping prepare children and supporting young volunteers, to learning from the experiences of both Black Saturday and the recent Black Summer.

Host: Kate Brady, After The Disaster podcast


Dr Rob Gordon is a clinical psychologist who has spent 35 years working with communities affected by disasters throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Dr Josh Whittaker is a geographer specialising in research on the vulnerability of human communities to bushfire (wildfire) and other natural hazards. He was a Research Fellow at the University of Wollongong's Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires from 2016 until February 2021, and is now the Coordinator Community Engagement at the NSW Rural Fire Service.

Dr Briony Towers is the co-director of LEADRRR and a former Research Fellow at RMIT University. For the past six years, she has served as a Chief Investigator on Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC project on child-centred disaster risk reduction. Her scholarship and practice is focussed on school-based education for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Briony lives and works on the land of the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation.

Nicky Haslinghouse
is a Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteer firefighter with the Mount Macedon fire brigade in Victoria, and the University of Melbourne’s Emergency Management and Critical Incident Specialist. Having grown-up in one of the most fire-prone areas of the State and joined CFA in her mid-twenties, she has held volunteer roles in community engagement, social media coordination and brigade management with CFA, and is deeply passionate about supporting high-risk communities to safely and effectively prepare for, respond to and recover from the impact of bushfire in the landscape.

Shona Whitton, Red Cross. 

We encourage you to submit questions with your registration. Topics of focus are:

  • Planning for the reality
  • Preparing children and young people
  • Trauma resilience: caring for mental health 
  • Supporting our young fire fighters
  • The importance of keeping communities connected
  • The power of volunteering

You will also be able to submit questions on the day.

FIRES is a new 6-part ABC drama series inspired by the experiences of people and communities impacted by the 2019/20 Bushfires, ensuring that stories of resilience, hope and determination are not forgotten.

Queries or questions? Please contact

If you are feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty coping, support is available. Call the Lifeline Bushfire Recovery line on 13 HELP - 13 43 57 or visit

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