Navigating Uncertainty: a qualitative study of resident involvement in the 2013 Forcett Tasmania bushfire disaster

Jennings, F 2018, Navigating Uncertainty: a qualitative study of resident involvement in the 2013 Forcett Tasmania bushfire disaster, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Science, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Navigating Uncertainty: a qualitative study of resident involvement in the 2013 Forcett Tasmania bushfire disaster
Author(s) Jennings, F
Year 2018
Abstract This thesis is a grounded theory analysis of resident involvement in the 2013 Forcett Tasmania bushfire disaster.  Friday 4 January 2013 was one of the most significant fire days in Tasmania since 1967.  The fire threatened life and left a trail of destruction, animals perished, homes, livelihood and landscape were destroyed or damaged.  Despite this there appeared to be a level of social structure and processes evident.  Many residents carried out a range of actions and activities before, during and after the bushfire disaster.  It appeared that residents had a way of doing things and these actions were significant.  In the post disaster phase, many of these local processes appeared to be overlooked by the well-intentioned external help or overwhelmed by the visitor-related goodwill.

The analysis presented in this thesis focuses on the local social processes.  The main question opening the inquiry was - What is community-led recovery in the context of a bushfire hazard and disaster?  The qualitative research design involved in-depth interviews, to develop an explanatory account of the phenomenon of interest based on the analysis of people's experience and perspectives.  The 40 people who participated in this study were residents of the small communities impacted by the bushfire disaster, external support volunteers, and representatives of local and state government and non-government services.

The constructivist grounded theory approach that was adopted by the researcher, constructed a theory grounded in the data that was collected by research participants.  The grounded theory `Navigating Uncertainty' outlines processes of surviving a bushfire disaster.  A psychosocial process represents an interpretive understanding of what community members encountered before, during and after the bushfire disaster.  The substantive theory `Navigating Uncertainty' is built around community member's main concerns and what they did to resolve their concerns; their decision-making and actions underpinned by the meaning they gave to their experience.  In a context of uncertainty community members depended on processes and systems that were familiar to them which fostered a sense of stability and helped sustain them through a period of change.  This research concludes it is necessary to understand the holistic nature of people's lived experience in disaster events.  Recovery includes the way people interpret and manage their context throughout a bushfire disaster, not just the post-disaster phase.  Furthermore, the research identifies the importance of safeguarding and sustaining social stability, and approaches that support the participation of community members in a way that is meaningful and respectful of their experience.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Science
Subjects Human Geography not elsewhere classified
Natural Hazards
Keyword(s) grounded theory
bushfire
disaster
community
recovery
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Created: Thu, 07 Feb 2019, 15:17:42 EST by Keely Chapman
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