CQUniversity Australia

Facebook site for study into animal attachment and natural disaster preparedness 

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People have been injured and sometimes even killed while trying to save animals during bushfires or floods, however an Australian researcher believes the desire to protect pets could be turned into protective factor...

Dr Kirrilly Thompson's Should I Stay or Should I Go? project aims to increase natural disaster preparedness and survival through animal attachment.

Dr Thompson has set up a Facebook page (Natural Disasters: Saving Animal and Human Lives Together) for those interested in following or contributing to her project.

PhotoID:13551, Dr Kirrilly Thompson shows her own animal attachment
Dr Kirrilly Thompson shows her own animal attachment
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The CQUniversity Appleton Institute researcher will receive $371,622 in Australian Research Council* funding to determine the extent to which people's willingness to risk their lives to save animals during natural disasters could be reinterpreted as a protective factor by motivating preparedness.  The project will encompass different types of disasters (ie flood and fire), different types of animals (ie. pets, livestock and wildlife) and different locations (ie. urban, peri-urban and rural areas).

"This information will be used to create effective public health campaigns using multiple interventions to target different risk groups, with the aim to increase natural disaster preparedness and save lives," she says.

"Until we are able to understand the ‘why' and ‘how' of people's willingness to undertake risky behaviour to save animals, Australia's disaster management plans will be based on incomplete understandings of people's motivations, behaviours and decision-making processes.

"By providing a comprehensive and dimensionalised understanding of animal-related risk-taking during natural disasters, by taking full advantage of motivations to save animals, and by critically evaluating theories which suggest that owners see animals as extensions of their own ‘selves', this project will deliver the knowledge necessary to develop guidelines for an effective, targeted emergency preparedness public health campaign that encourages more Australians to better prepare for surviving natural disasters.

PhotoID:13860, Dr Kirrilly Thompson
Dr Kirrilly Thompson
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"I will be offering a PhD scholarship for a student to work with me for the next three years on the project, commencing next year. Interested applicants can contact me in the first instance."

* Dr Thompson's funding has been approved through an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award. CQUniversity is celebrating success in the latest round of ARC grants, thanks to researchers based at its Appleton Institute in Adelaide.

The Appleton Institute combines excellence in research, teaching and community engagement across a range of scientific areas including sleep and biological rhythms, applied psychology, occupational health and safety, human factors, risk management and cultural anthropology.  CQUniversity offers Psychology Honours, the Graduate Certificate in Fatigue Risk Management and the Graduate Diploma and Masters in Rail Safety Management, along with supervision for research higher degree students doing Masters and PhD projects.