Why dont they listen when we tell them what to do?
Engaging Communities in Managing Their Own Safety: O'Neill, P. (2004) Presented at the International Emergency Management Society Conference, Yarra Ranges, Victoria, 2004
This paper will outline issues relating to developing a risk communication model in the context of severe but infrequent disasters such as significant floods, bushfires or storms. It will investigate the concept of risk perception and the elements that contribute to an integrated community safety campaign. The paper will review traditional approaches to community education that have been used by emergency agencies. It will suggest a need for an integrated risk communication model that acknowledges community perceptions about the risks they face, and while encouraging self-reliance, also acknowledging the limitations of this approach. It will then present a coherent conceptual framework for communicating and involving the public, focusing on the pre-disaster phase.
It also explores the risk optimism bias that occurs when communicating with people about natural disasters. Integral to this approach is the belief that people do not categorise all risks as the same and will underestimate or overestimate the risk according to their perception or understanding of the impact on their lives. The principal factors that contribute to an effective community safety program are explored including the nature of the disaster and associated risk, the perception of the risk and peoples willingness to act, identifying the stages of risk communication, identifying audiences and associated messages and community resilience.
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