Questions of management and policy amidst Australia’s bushfire crisis

An interdisciplinary panel consider how government and industry should best respond to climate-related disasters, which will only become increasingly common, intense, widespread and destructive as the planet warms.

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Recent weather and climate-related disasters, especially the bushfires, have stretched Australia’s largely ‘volunteer’ emergency management workforce to breaking point. The current state and federal approaches to disaster management are failing, as there are inadequate laws and policies to fund government agencies and compensate victims, especially where they are uninsured. With the government defunding research and ignoring recommendations on disasters, resilience and adaptation planning, is a community-based, collaborative approach the only way forward?

Yet, the impediment to such comprehensive action is that, for many people, the scale of the threat remains beyond imagination. An urgent challenge is therefore the question of representation, especially representation of the multispecies devastation, to ensure that the graphic horror of the recent bushfires is not lost in the danger of abstractness.

This event was presented at the University of Sydney on Wednesday 26 February.


  • Danielle Celermajer is a Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney.
  • Rosemary Lyster is the Professor of Climate and Environmental Law at the University of Sydney Law School and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law. 
  • Michael Mann is a Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI). He is also director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC).
  • David Schlosberg is Professor of Environmental Politics in the Department of Government and International Relations, Payne-Scott Professor, and Director of the Sydney Environment Institute at the University of Sydney
  • Christopher Wright is a Professor of Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney Business School.
  • Tanya Fiedler (Chair) is a lecturer in the Discipline of Accounting at the University of Sydney.

Header image: Australia December, 2019. Smoke from bushfires covers the sky and glowing sun barely seen through the smoke, via Shutterstock ID: 1580277991.