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Deakin University (2017)

Bushfire safety : examining the space between theory and practice

Humphreys, Deborah Kathleen

Titre : Bushfire safety : examining the space between theory and practice

Auteur : Humphreys, Deborah Kathleen

Université de soutenance : Deakin University

Grade : Master of Arts (MA) 2017

Victoria is one of the most bushfire-prone states in Australia. In response to this annual danger, the Victorian Government urges communities – particularly those close to large volumes of vegetation – to plan thoroughly and prepare carefully for bushfire hazard ; however, most people fail to do so adequately in accordance with agency expectations (Emergency Management Victoria [EMV] 2013 ; Rhodes et al. 2011a). This disjuncture is complex, but understanding its basis and working to better link knowledge of the bushfire risk to effective community action which can mitigate it, is a critical imperative to reducing loss of life and economic damage (Australasian Fire Authority Council [AFAC] 2005 ; Country Fire Authority [CFA] 2013a ; Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning [DELWP] 2014 ; Rhodes et al. 2011a, pp. 5-6 ; Victorian Government 2010, p. 5 ; Whittaker & Handmer 2010). My research, therefore, examines the reasons for this phenomenon, and analyses the space between the theory and practice in response to bushfire safety. Using mixed methods and action research with participants ; I cocreated, shared, and examined data on the phenomenon (Dick 2002 ; Stringer 2007). Further data analysis was undertaken using grounded theory methods (Charmaz 2014). This led to a conceptual model that illustrates the emergent theoretical understanding. Cynefin (Snowden 2010) and community development theories help explain this novel and evolving conceptual framework (Ife 2013 ; Kenny 2011). What I found is that the space between the theory and practice involves the intersection of three spectrums : 1) community and resilience ; 2) bureaucracy and empowerment ; 3) environment and place ; and this is where complexity, power and compassion reside. Most practices employed by emergency services are in the positivist tradition of good and best practice, suitable in rationalist settings, but these fail to address the realities of people and the environment (Innes & Booher 2010 ; Snowden 2010). People-centred practices that are creative, inclusive, and empowering such as community development, are better able to respond to people in relation to the phenomenon (United Nations [UN] 2015, p. 21). To respond appropriately to the context, emergent and novel practice founded on powerful compassion provides the potential for change (Milner 2008 ; Nussbaum 2001 ; Rosenberg 2003 ; Snowden 2010, 2013 ; Snowden & Boone 2007).


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