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Disaster resilience education in schools
As emergency services agencies across Victoria face challenges including increased community demands and limited capacity to deliver community and school education programs, many are looking at opportunities to develop a shared responsibility approach to the delivery of disaster resilience education (DRE) in schools.
By Matt Henry
Current disaster risk reduction research shows that educating children and youth about natural disasters not only increases resilience and reduces vulnerability, but also positively impacts households and communities, helping them to prepare, respond and recover from emergencies.
CFA and VICSES Community Development Program teams recently conducted a DRE pilot project in Victorian schools in areas with a recognised risk from fire, flood or storm, to trial innovative models for the effective delivery of DRE in the classroom.
This project, called the School Curriculum Natural Hazards Resilience Package (SCNHRP) was funded by the Natural Disaster Resilience Grants Scheme, Victoria.
Throughout the SCNHRP project, CFA and SES staff worked collaboratively with teachers and students from participating schools to design, develop and implement a DRE program that addressed local natural hazard risks and facilitated the development of disaster resilience strategies with the students.
The SCNHRP project engaged students in five web-based lessons which encouraged hands-on participatory learning and decision-making challenges which helped students to actively reduce their local hazard risks.
Lesson activities included mapping exercises to assess local hazard risks and group discussions to develop possible actions to reduce hazard risks. These lessons were facilitated by teachers who had participated in a content-specific professional development session run by CFA and SES staff.
A comprehensive evaluation of the SCNHRP project will be completed in December 2017. Parts of this evaluation will look at how effectively the project increased student learning, and the capacity of schools and the emergency services sector to replicate the project on a larger scale in the future.