Disaster Diaries

A book club for anyone interested in the community’s response to emergencies.

Read any good books lately?

Every two months during Monday lunchtime (12.30 PM AEST), a small group of colleagues in emergency communication and community engagement gather in a small corner of the internet to discuss an item of the written word. 

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Dates for the 2023 Disaster Diaries meetings have been scheduled – put these in your calendar now!

    • Monday 27 February 2023
    • Monday 1 May 2023
    • Thursday 8 June 2023 (in person at the EMPA Australia 2023 Conference)
    • Monday 14 August 2023
    • Thursday 19 October 2023 (in person at the EMPA New Zealand 2023 Conference)


7.45 AM | Thursday 8 June 2023
(in person at the EMPA Australia 2023 Conference)

A River with a City Problem – A History of Brisbane Floods

Storytelling is a proven successful tool in helping people understand their risk – and this book is the ultimate Brisbane Get Ready story!

Written by historian Dr Margaret Cook, ‘A River with a City Problem’ brings the Brisbane River to life – appropriate for our conference venue right beside this grand and sometimes terrible old lady. And what will you get from this read?  A range of insights into the River, its people and how we might work with communities on flood plains.

This session will be held in person at the EMPA Australia 2023 conference and online via Zoom with the recording made available following the conference to watch via our YouTube channel. 

Please ensure you come prepared to contribute to the discussion by reading the full text –
at only 200 pages and with larger text and images, it is a quick read. 

TITLE: A River with a City Problem – A History of Brisbane Floods

AUTHOR: Margaret Cook

PUBLICATION: 3 September 2019, University of Queensland Press

SOURCE: https://www.google.com.au/books/edition/A_River_with_a_City_Problem/DvO9DwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

PURCHASE: https://www.booktopia.com.au/a-river-with-a-city-problem-margaret-cook/book/9780702260438.html


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Monday 1 May 2023

ARTICLE: #RecoverSouthCoast: how Twitter can support and hinder recovery

Are we using social media to best effect in recovery? 

TITLE: #RecoverSouthCoast: how Twitter can support and hinder recovery

AUTHORS: Dr Robert Ogie, Dr Alison Moore, Dr Tasmin-Lara Dilworth, Dr Sharon James, Dr Mehrdad Amirghasemi

PUBLICATION: Australian Journal of Emergency Management, October 2022 

SOURCE: https://knowledge.aidr.org.au/resources/ajem-october-2022-recoversouthcoast-how-twitter-can-support-and-hinder-recovery/https://reliefweb.int/report/world/why-disasters-are-not-natural

Monday 27 February 2023

Natural disasters – is language an obstacle to preparedness and recovery? A Disaster Diaries three minute read.

TITLE: Why Disasters are not natural

AUTHOR: ShelterBox

PUBLICATION: reliefweb, OCHA Services, 5 July 2021

SOURCE: https://reliefweb.int/report/world/why-disasters-are-not-natural

Monday 31 October 2022

Getting people to tune in when they really need to hear our message is an age old problem for communicators. This article “The Science of What Makes People Care” – comes from the public communication field, and presents five principles we can follow to connect with and our communities to listen and act.

TITLE: The Science of What Makes People Care

AUTHOR: Ann Christiano and Annie Neimand

PUBLICATION: Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fall 2018, pp. 26–33.

SOURCE: https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_science_of_what_makes_people_care

Monday 19 September 2022

“A startling investigation of what people do in disasters and why it matters

Why is it that in the aftermath of a disaster–whether manmade or natural–people suddenly become altruistic, resourceful, and brave? What makes the newfound communities and purpose many find in the ruins and crises after disaster so joyous? And what does this joy reveal about ordinarily unmet social desires and possibilities?

In A Paradise Built in Hell, award-winning author Rebecca Solnit explores these phenomena, looking at major calamities from the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco through the 1917 explosion that tore up Halifax, Nova Scotia, the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. She examines how disaster throws people into a temporary utopia of changed states of mind and social possibilities, as well as looking at the cost of the widespread myths and rarer real cases of social deterioration during crisis. This is a timely and important book from an acclaimed author whose work consistently locates unseen patterns and meanings in broad cultural histories.” – Source: goodreads.com

TITLE: A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster

AUTHOR: Rebecca Solnit

PUBLICATION: 20 August 2009 by Viking Adult, New York City, New York, USA

SOURCE: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6444492-a-paradise-built-in-hell

Monday 15 August 2022

Academic research into how agencies in Europe are interpreting and dealing with false information – which is something emergency communicators need to be ready for and deal with, sometimes even before it happens. 

This article reviews the approaches of different European countries to dealing with false information in emergency management, and offers some surprising examples of where misinformation and disinformation can come from. It provides an important foundation for any strategies we might develop to head off false information about natural hazards in future.

TITLE: Handling false information in emergency management: A cross-national comparative study of European practices

AUTHORS: S.Torpan, S.Hansson, M.Rhinard, A.Kazemekaityte, P.Jukarainen, S.Frislid Meyer, A.Schieffelers, G.Lovasz, K.Orru

PUBLICATION: International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, Volume 57, 15 April 2021, Elsevier Ltd.

SOURCE: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212420921001175

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Monday 4 July 2022

“A moving insider’s account of surviving one of Australia’s worst bushfires – and how we live with fire in a climate-changed world.”

A well-researched account of the 2019-20 Currowan bushfire that gives glimpses into the best and worst of community bushfire preparation and recovery.

TITLE: Currowan: The Story of a Fire and a Community During Australia’s Worst Summer

AUTHOR: Bronwyn Adcock

PUBLICATION: 20 Sep 2021, Black Inc. Books, Collingwood, Australia

SOURCE: https://www.blackincbooks.com.au/books/currowan