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Beyond transmission: An analysis of communication frameworks in Australian bushfire preparedness

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 22:19 authored by Akama, Y, Cooper, V, Mees, B

Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to introduce and critique frameworks of communication in Australian bushfire management. Achieving bushfire preparedness is a complex process that centres on meaningful communication and relationships between fire emergency agencies and the residents at risk. However, the practice of bushfire communication in Australia might better be described as bricoleur-like, applying and adapting whatever is at hand from the broader media panoply, rather than involving a more deliberative and comprehensively planned approach to preparedness.

Design/methodology/approach - This paper builds on different frameworks of communication, beyond the traditional transmission and power models, to establish alternative ways in which communication may take place in bushfire preparedness. It is built from coupling theoretical and social science approaches to communication and through interviews and fieldwork in four states across Australia. The aggregation of these data became the basis to examine how communication was taking place among these constituents.

Findings - Communication as transmission still remains dominant from the perspective where expertise is marshaled among fire agency specialists and disseminated to the public. Communication as power highlights that the persistence of the transmission process can reinforce power dynamics, diminishing empowerment, participation and capacity-building for change by the community. Recognising the importance for understanding audiences, communication as marketing pays closer attention to attitudes to influence behaviour. Finally, communication as community elaborates the conversational aspects of knowledge flow, through social networks, bringing a particular focus to bear on the greater need for community agency.

Originality/value - The authors put forward these frameworks as ways to analyse, critique and propose different ways that communication can, and does, occur, resulting in different kinds of interaction and impact. The authors argue that an awareness of such frameworks is significant in assisting the communities and fire authorities in bushfire preparedness.


Publication title

International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment










Emerald Publishing Limited

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

© Emerald Group Publishing Limited 2016

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Structure, delivery and resourcing

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