Archives For Black Saturday

Disappointingly the Black Saturday royal commission report makes no mention of the effect of cognitive biases upon making a ‘stay or go’ decision, instead assuming that such decisions are made in a completely rationa fashion. As Black Saturday and other disasters show this is rarely the case.

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One of the positive outcomes from a disaster such as Black Saturday is that a window of opportunity opens in which opinions, behaviour and even public policy can be changed.

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So, a year on from the Black Saturday fires and the royal commission established in their aftermath is working it’s way to a conclusion. While the commission has certainly been busy, I guess you could say that I was left unsatisfied by the recommendations.

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Fire has been an integral part of the Australian ecosystem for tens of thousands of years. Both the landscape and it’s native inhabitants have adapted to this periodic cycle of fire and regeneration. These fires are not bolts from the blue, they occur regularly and predictably, yet modern Australians seem to have difficulty understanding that their land will burn, regularly, and sometimes catastrophically.

So why do we studiously avoid serious consideration of the hazards of living in a country that regularly produces firestorms? Why, in the time of fire, do we go through the same cycle of shock, recrimination, exhortations to do better, diminishing interest and finally forgetfulness?

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