Volume 24 Issue 2, 2009

Community safety programs for bushfire: What do they achieve, and how?

Gerald Elsworth, John Gilbert, Alan Rhodes, Helen Goodman

Peer-reviewed Article

Archived Article


This paper provides a summary of the findings from a review of available evaluative studies of community education, awareness and engagement (EAE) activities and programs for bushfire in Australia. It provides a brief account of the background to this work and the innovative approach used, known as realist synthesis. The synthesis highlighted the diversity and complexity of the contexts that EAE programs are implemented in and identified four broad causal processes that appear to be critical for the generation of the desired community safety outcomes (risk awareness and knowledge of fire behaviour and safety measures, household and community level planning, physical and psychological preparation for a bushfire, and a safe response if and when a fire occurs). These causal processes are: Engagement, Trust and Self confidence, Confirmation and Re-assessment, and Community Involvement and Collaboration.