Psychology Colloquium: Dr Anne Swinbourne (College of Healthcare Sciences – James Cook University)
College of Healthcare Sciences, James Cook University
Title: The interface of psychology, natural hazards and extreme events
Abstract: The CSIRO/BoM State of the Climate 2020 report delivers an expected message: Australia is undergoing, and will continue to experience, long-term climate change. This will interact negatively with Australia’s preexisting vulnerability to extreme weather events and change the country’s natural hazard risk profile. As compared to the last 50 years, fire seasons are longer, tropical cyclones are less frequent but more intense, and coastal communities are more often experiencing impacts due to inundation and erosion. The report states that coordinated, scientifically informed economic, social and environmental decision-making by governments, industries and communities is required to meet future challenges.
All of the recommendations in the report, and in similar reports, emphasise the importance of human behaviour in preparing for and mitigating the impacts of extreme weather events. Human behaviour is the remit of psychology. However, stereotypically, psychology professionals are portrayed as working at the level of the individual or, at most, the community. It is therefore reasonable to ask how psychology and psychologists can contribute to, and interface with, higher-level bodies making decisions about how to manage extreme events and natural hazards. This colloquium will present a snapshot of Australia’s disaster management landscape, examine current models of disaster management and consider the role of the psychology professional within these frameworks.
*And yes, there will be data.