In Summary

  • Swinburne researchers are working to improve bushfires preparedness, response and recovery, and find innovative solutions to some pressing issues affecting communities across the country
  • Research and projects are underway in the areas of community resilience, mental health, bushfire psychology, preparedness, land management, disaster management, structural safety and designing for bushfire resilience

Research is underway across Swinburne to improve bushfire preparedness, response and recovery, and find innovative solutions to some pressing issues affecting communities across the country.

Encompassing mental and respiratory health, emergency management, advanced technology and resilient infrastructure, Swinburne Research has compiled a comprehensive list of our bushfire research capability.

Community resilience, mental health and bushfire psychology

Swinburne’s Social Innovation Research Institute have been researching rural mental health, wellbeing and resilience in Australia, Europe and North America since 1998. Our researchers have expertise in rural community participation and empowerment. They are supporting communities to find their own resilience and improve their mental health, in partnership with organisations such as Beyond Blue, SANE and Patient Opinion.

The Data Co-Op Platform for Social Impact and Wellbeing, is a rural mental health data collaborative led by Swinburne’s Social Data Analytics (SoDA) Lab. Using data, researchers will consider the relationships between mental health, climate change and community infrastructure.

Researchers at Swinburne’s Centre for Mental Health are experts in navigating the network of services and modalities for people affected by bushfires. Researchers from the centre have designed and delivered interventions such as the Federal Government funded Mental Health Online, which provides support and training for local professionals.

Swinburne’s Centre for Mental Health and Psychological Sciences Department have clinical expertise in loss and grief, and in the development of training programs for psychologists and counsellors. The Centre for Mental Health has a self-help program for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and experience in the video-based delivery of psychological services. Swinburne’s Social Health and Wellbeing Laboratory specialises in how loneliness can negatively impact social functioning and exacerbate mental health symptoms.

Researchers at Swinburne’s Iverson Health Innovation Research Institute and School of Health have expertise in assessing the physiological mechanisms underpinning stress or respiratory related illnesses. Understanding these mechanisms provides direction towards appropriate therapies for prevention and management.

Respiratory expert and Dean of the School of Health, Professor Bruce Thompson, continues to provide expert commentary on the health effects of bushfire smoke to a wide range of media, including the ABC and The Washington Post.

Swinburne’s Centre for Forensic and Behavioural Science is Australia’s leading centre in forensic mental health and forensic behavioural science research, teaching and practice development. Our researchers specialise in bushfire arson prevention, the psychology of firesetting and criminal psychology.

Preparedness, land management and disaster management

Researchers at Swinburne’s Centre for Transformative Innovation have expertise in bushfire preparedness, response and recovery. The Social Network Research Lab within this centre has led research on social connectedness and mental health in bushfires in response to Black Saturday, in conjunction with Beyond Bushfires.

Swinburne’s Centre for Social Impact has explored sense-making, learning and change in emergency management organisations. The Centre has completed research on the commemoration of the Black Saturday bushfires, and its impact on practitioners and firefighters.

Philanthropy experts at Swinburne’s Centre for Social Impact can also explain the most effective ways to donate to bushfire relief efforts.

Swinburne’s School of Science researchers have expertise in bushfire and land management research as well as the biology and ecology of Australia’s forests, woodlands and rangelands. Swinburne researchers have been involved in the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (Bushfire CRC), addressing optimisation of fuel reduction burning regimes and fire risk management.

The Swinburne Business School has experts on the economic impact of disasters, as well as capabilities in spatial information mapping, land administration and disaster management. Researchers within the school have also explored social media analytics relating to immediate bushfire responses on Twitter.

Structural safety and designing for bushfire resilience

Swinburne’s Centre for Design Innovation has expertise in designing for bushfire resilience, best practice building design for harm minimisation in bushfire-affected regions, as well as the programs required for providing essential infrastructure following a disaster.

Researchers from the Centre for Design Innovation collaboratively developed the Good Design Award-winning Atlite bushfire skylight, the only Australian-designed and made roof window that is bushfire, hail, cyclone and leak resistant.

Researchers at Swinburne’s Centre for Urban Transitions have experience and capabilities in policy analysis of current dynamics and drivers of urban change and urban modelling. The centre also conducts research on housing and disaster preparation, as well as policy scenario analysis, economic, business-case and investment analysis in low-carbon urban development.

Swinburne’s Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Digital Construction conducts research into structural safety and civil engineering for disaster resilience. Following Black Saturday, a team of researchers from this centre worked with Frankston Concrete Products to design, build and test an above ground bushfire shelter.

The Smart Structures Laboratory has conducted large-scale fire testing of structural components and new engineering materials and components which has led to the development of more efficient infrastructure systems and safer buildings, bridges, offshore structures and mining structures including those relevant in bushfire-affected environments.

Swinburne is a key player in the new Cooperative Research Centre for Smart Satellite Technologies and Analytics – the SmartSat CRCwhich is developing know-how and technologies in advanced telecommunications and Internet-of-Things (IoT) connectivity and intelligent satellite systems. Working together with researchers in our Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing and Digital Research & Innovation Capability Platform (including our IoT Laboratory), this capability and technology could potentially be deployed for bushfire detection and prediction.