The Critic’s Corner Some Contemporary Issues in Disaster Management

March 2003 (VOL. 21, NO. 1)

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In this paper I want to set out some of my views on a number of contemporary issues confronting disaster management but I do not have the space to address all the issues I think are critical nor do I doubt that there are numerous other issues that have not occurred to me. My assessment of some salient current issues derives from two perspectives; until recently I had responsibility for policy development and program management of disaster recovery services in Victoria, Australia and now I have added the perspective of the academic and researcher at Cranfield Disaster Management Center in England and formerly at RMIT University, Australia; research into social impacts and community responses is an activity that links these two positions. While I am generally pessimistic about how well disaster management can keep pace with a changing global risk environment I acknowledge that our thinking has changed significantly in the past decade. In particular we have been—or were—moving away from a hazard-centric and reductionist approach to disaster management to an approach that accepted the reality of social, cultural, political and economic drivers of hazard generation, risk and vulnerability.