Project update - June 2019

Hi everyone,

Just a quick update re the recording of the completion seminar – alas there were a few technology fails. Despite setting up two recording devices, one had to be cancelled due to the internet connection and the other effectively filmed part of my head and part of the screen… 

I will be rerecording the presentation shortly and will post it up here as soon as it’s done.



Project update - May 2019

Hi all,

After being locked in a dungeon and not communicating with the outside world for months now (at least, that's what it has felt like), I am happy to report that the research project about disaster recovery is in its final stages.

As part of completing a PhD, all candidates at the University of Melbourne are required to present a completion seminar. I will be taking the opportunity to use this seminar as the first presentation of the research findings.

The seminar will be held on Thursday June 6 at 4pm (Melbourne time) at the University of Melbourne campus, Alan Gilbert building room 123. 

I know a lot of people who contributed to this research aren't in Melbourne, so if you're interested in any of the options below, please let me know so that I can organise this:

a) Video conferencing into the presentation

b) Me recording the presentation and posting it online

c) Having a chat to you 1:1 about the research findings (research participants only) 

After the formal process of submitting the thesis, I'll be looking to disseminate what I've found in a variety of ways. If you have any ideas on how you think the research findings could be presented in a way that is helpful to you, please let me know.



Project update - February 2018

26 February 2018

Hi everyone,

This is somewhat of a sheepish update… have you ever had one of those situations where you know it’s been too long since you’ve contacted someone, and because you’re embarrassed about it you let it slip further and then it gets worse? That’s what has happened with this update.

The long and the short of it is that I am neck deep in the murky, murky middle bit of the PhD. The writing, the re-writing, the asking yourself ‘does this even make any sense anymore’, the rewriting again. So it feels like despite the efforts, there’s nothing to report.

So this is just a note to say that I haven’t stopped working on this, and if you wrote one of the letters, they’re definitely being put to good use!

Any questions, shout out… believe me, I would love the distraction.



Project update - September 2017

30 September 2017

Hi everyone

Happy grand final weekend if you’re in Australia and are participating in one of the nations biggest rituals. I, myself, have taken the controversial position of moving to Melbourne but electing to be an atheist in this state’s religion. While that position generally causes more suspicion than it’s worth, it means that on days like today while everyone is crowded around a TV yelling or at the game itself no one notices if I hide away at my desk, hunched over like Quasimodo.

It’s been a little while since I’ve sent any information, but I wanted to send a quick update.

Last week I had my annual progress review for the research where a panel of four declared that progress on the research is on track (as long as I write, write, write). At this meeting, we discussed that the call for letters has now been open for two years, and it’s time to close that down.

Over the last two years I have received letters that have been so rich and thoughtful in their content, and I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to put their pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard) and sent through their input, your valuable contribution is very much appreciated.

I’d also like to really thank the people who have contacted me during that time to tell me that it has been too difficult to do it. It’s really important that people elect not to participate in research that’s not right for them, and this feedback has been incredibly valuable and has been very helpful in me getting a better understanding of the study design.

If you’re one of the people who has told me that you’re part of the way through your letter, or still really want to do it and just need a bit more time, that’s ok too. Just let me know and I’m happy to include your contribution into the research when you’re able to send it.

Thanks again for all your support during this last two years, it’s been much appreciated. Now onto the next phase of writing, writing and more writing (interspersed of course with loads of moments of silly hand wringing and those other blergh slumps…) 

Project update - July 2017

Project update – July 2017

13 July 2017

Just a quick update on where things are at with the research project.

There has been such incredible rich, sage, generous information provided in the letters I’ve received that I’ve been a bit hunkered down trying to group some of that information into sections. I posted some info in April (which you can scroll down to) about one of the research analysis techniques I’m using to do that.

One of the ongoing challenges I have is being able to dedicate enough time to do this section of the research the justice it deserves. It’s a weighty responsibility to work with the stories of other people and I juggle that with my other role at Red Cross and being a mum and a step mum to a toddler and a teenager.

So… it’s off to thesis boot camp with me! The University of Melbourne holds a few of these per year, and they’re as glamorous as they sound. I’ll be spending 26.5 hours with 34 other people over the weekend in a room (which I have been told is simultaneously drafty and a bit cramped?) typing like mad beasts. I really think that you know you’re in for fun times when the tag line of the program is ‘You’ll thank yourself later.’

I’d really still love to receive more letters, so if you’re reading this and thinking ‘oh well, she’s got them all now’, not true!  If you have things to say, I’d love to hear them!


Project update – May 2017

19 May 2017

To write or not to write… that is the question.

In the last month I have been in contact with four people living in different cities who have said that they would like to participate in the research, and have tried to write their letter, but are finding it just too hard.

If that sound like you, I’d love to hear from you!

There are two research questions that I’m trying to answer in this project. The first one is the biggie – what do people who have experienced a disaster think is helpful and unhelpful when they’re recovering. But there’s a second one too – how do people find the experience of writing the letter to themselves (thanks so much to everyone who has completed the survey after they have sent in their letter – it’s really helpful!).

The reason that we’re trying to find out what people think about the letter writing experience is that it’s a really unusual way to ask people to participate in research. If writing a letter to yourself is the thing that’s stopping you from participating, that’s important to know.

If you’re interested in participating, but are finding the letter writing process to hard, drop me a line at so we can work something out. I want this to be as stress free as possible for anyone who has something they’d like to say about disaster recovery.


Project update - April 2017

So, how do you go about analysing that?


As most people visiting this site will know, I’m doing a research project about what is helpful and unhelpful for people after a disaster. The way that I am asking people to participate is by writing a letter to themselves about that topic.

One of the questions that I get asked when describing this process is ‘yeah, but how do you compare them? You can’t really because you’ve got apples and oranges because everyone will write different things in their letters.’

In some ways this is right, but in other ways it’s not such an issue. I deliberately left the question very open – What has been helpful and unhelpful when recovering from a disaster? The very cool thing about the question being so open is that it doesn’t lead people to talk about one thing or another, they talk about what’s important to them, and that is very, very important to me. The trickier bit is finding a way to consistently review the information that people send in to see where there are commonalities and differences.


Qualitative research

To start, it’s important to remember that this is a qualitative research study, so I’m not trying to create statistics from the responses, or be able to make ‘rules’ that you can then apply to anyone. Qualitative research often uses what’s called ‘inductive’ reasoning (looking at what the data is telling you, and then trying to find a way to organise that), compared to quantitative research which often uses ‘deductive’ reasoning – that is, start with a hypothesis and test examples against it. Sometimes deductive reasoning is called ‘bottom up’ research and inductive reasoning is called ‘top down’. Both qualitative and quantitative research are important for different reasons.

The University of Wisconsin in the USA has a simple table on their website that might be useful to help break down the differences if you’re interested in learning more about the differences between quantitative and qualitative research.


Grounded theory

 The theory that I’m using in my analysis fits under the category of ‘Grounded Theory’. Grounded theory came out of the USA in the late 1960’s by two academics, Glaser and Strauss and is essentially a structured way of looking at social research data with the intention of developing theory from it.

There are loads and loads (and loads and loads…) of different interpretations of exactly how to use grounded theory. I kid you not, there are not only books, but entire libraries, websites and institutions dedicated to looking at the different aspects of grounded theory. I am using a version of it as explained by Professor Kathy Charmaz (a Sociology Professor from the USA). She calls it ‘constructivist grounded theory’.

While there are critics of this approach (because almost every approach has limitations), some of the things I really like about it are:

·      It really puts the research participants in the drivers seat

·      It encourages researchers to look at their own biases, and instead of hiding them, name them

·      It really encourages researchers to be analytical rather than just descriptive

The process that Charmaz advocates uses ‘line by line’ coding, where the researcher looks at the different sentences in an interview or document (in this case, letter) and starts building an analysis from there.

It sounds weird when you first get introduced to this process, but very quickly it lets you see some trends that are going on, and lets you see them a bit more meaningfully than a list of ‘things’.

There is a really helpful (but quite long) interview with Professor Charmaz by an academic in the UK here if you’re interested in more on this, you can watch it here (it goes for about an hour).



I’m not sure if this is a helpful summary, but hopefully it gives you a bit of an overview about the approach I’m taking. If you’d like more information, drop me a line.

As always, if you’re keen to participate in the research, or know someone else who might be, I’d love to hear from you. You can click here for more information, or email me at

I’m still hoping to receive letters about what people have found helpful and unhelpful after a disaster up until June 2017.

Project update - March 2017

There's some great stories out there.


While I’ve been recruiting people who are interested for the ‘This is What Happens After’ research project, I’ve been pointed in the direction of a number of really great websites that contain oral history projects about disasters (and one play that’s on in April – if you’re in Tas, get along to it!)

Some of them are in the below links, but if there’s more that you think I should check out, please let me know. Be warned, this is the sort of stuff that you open up, and then hours later resurface without realising how much time has passed.


Black Saturday Museum


Big Stories Small Towns


’67 Tasmania Bushfires story map


ACT ‘Mr Fluffy’ loose fill asbestos houses


Quake Stories, NZ


Canterbury earthquakes


Story Corps, USA


Story telling is a really important aspect of disasters. Not only is it an important way of capturing information and details about disaster events, and recording history, I think it’s one of the strongest links that we can have to the ‘human-ness’ of these experiences.

Thanks again to everyone who has sent me their letters, I really appreciate the thought, time and effort that has gone in to them.

Project update - February 2017

Hi everyone,

I was chatting to a friend of mine who is on her own disaster recovery journey at the moment and we were talking about disaster anniversaries.

She was saying that it never fails to surprise her how inconsistent her reaction is to the anniversary date – some years she dreads the lead up to it, and it overwhelms her. Some years she uses it as an excuse to do something especially enjoyable, even if it’s only something small. Other years, she said she doesn’t actually notice it until it has passed.

I confessed that I still don’t always know what to say to someone about anniversaries. Should I bring it up unprompted? Should I leave it be? Do I send a message or wait until I see them next? What do I even call it? Your anniversary? Is that weird, or is that just what it is? For me, there is a sense of personal and professional shame in not really knowing the best course of action to take, and that shame and awkwardness stunts me into silence often.

We discussed that just as there isn’t a right reaction, there also isn’t a right approach for supporters to take. But that saying something is usually better than saying nothing.

So to all of you who have recently had, or are about to have a milestone date on your own recovery journey, on behalf of the people who might not reach out to you because they’re not sure what to say, I wish you well. I hope that you’re using it as a reminder to do something especially nice, even if it’s only something small.


As always, if you’re keen to participate in the research, or know someone else who might be, I’d love to hear from you. You can click here for more information, or email me at

I’m still hoping to receive letters about what people have found helpful and unhelpful after a disaster up until June 2017.


Looking to nerd it up about disaster anniversaries and memorials? My recommendations to you are:

The talented Shona Whitton undertook a Churchill Fellowship last year looking at disaster memorials. You can (and should!) read it here.

The excellent Anne Eyre – just basically put her name into Google or Google Scholar and read the stuff she has written, including her latest book Collective Conviction.

Project update - January 2017

Howdy, and welcome to 2017. I hope the New Year is treating you well.

The last time I was writing on this site, I thought that I had 8 more sleeps until I had a baby, so it was time to slow down, turn my attention to other things and maybe get a bit organised. Turns out I had 2 more sleeps and hadn't actually got around to converting my study into a nursery before my daughter was born. Oh well, it all worked out in the end.

The ‘This Is What Happens After’ research project is back up and running, and we’re keen for more people to let us know what has been helpful and unhelpful when recovering from a disaster. I’ll aim to keep this sit updated as the year goes on so that those of you who have already participated can keep up to date with the progress of the project.

Some of you may have ready the great piece that the excellent Jolie Wills wrote a few years ago about why first time parenting is a little bit like working in disaster recovery. Jolie is from Christchurch, a mother of two, and just a generally very wise woman, so I read it and reread it in the months before having my baby. Mid last year, after having a chat to her, I wrote a follow up piece to it, which I’ve published below.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to get in touch at or through the contacts section here.

Disaster recovery and first time parenting

Why disaster recovery and first time parenting are a little bit similar

August, 2016

In July 2014, my wonderfully thoughtful and smart colleague Jolie Wills wrote a blog post outlining her reflections on the similarities between living and working in recovery in Christchurch and the comparison to being a first time parent.

Two year on, and I am a new parent myself. Eight months in, I’m still a total newb and clueless on most days as to what I’m supposed to be doing in this new role in my life. 

At 3am a week after we’d come home from the hospital and I was again trying to figure out how breastfeeding worked (‘the most natural thing in the world’ huh? Ppfft!), Jolie’s writing sprang to mind, and her words have been rattling around in my sleep-deprived brain since then. I’ve started thinking about other things I could add to her observations. 

To explicitly clarify upfront, I am not trying to belittle or make light of the experiences of people who have been through a disaster, nor am I saying that having a baby for me has been a disaster. The two experiences are obviously very different in thousands upon thousands of ways, none the least that no one would wish for a disaster, while becoming a parent is an anticipated joy for lots of people. The common ground is still there though I think, in that both experiences have profound impacts on your life, your identity, your outlook and your relationships.

I should also be clear that while I have been working in and studying disaster recovery for the better part of a decade, I have not been through a disaster event myself, so the reflections I have of disaster recovery are from the observations of hundreds, if not thousands of others, rather than a personal experience. 

Last disclaimer: I preface anything I write here with the warning that I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in more than a year (those people who gleefully warn you when you’re pregnant to ‘sleep now while you can!’ are jerks who haven’t experienced pregnancy night puking, crazy cramping and a ridiculous bladder in the months leading up to the baby being born). 

1. When it comes to preparing, there is a focus on ‘the event’ rather than what comes after. What comes after is a lot more complicated

It’s no secret that the bulk of attention in emergency services is still focused on the disaster hazard event, rather than what comes after. Researchers note it, budget breakdowns demonstrate it and media reporting reflects it. 

When we think of disaster preparedness, most of the stuff that is out there focuses on the ‘event’. ‘Get Thru for 72’, ‘Get Ready, Get Thru’ (i), ‘Leave and Live’. It’s all focused on surviving the event and the next 24-48 hours. With some notable exceptions, there is practically no discussion about what to prepare for in the days, weeks and months after the event, which is complex, messy, stressful and often life changing.

I thought about this a lot in the first week after the birth of my daughter. For nine months, I had been given information, been asked to produce a birth plan (ii), gone to 15 hours of classes, read books, downloaded apps, been sent (and stupidly viewed) scary web links, endured many, many tales of horror birth stories.

And other than the ‘wink, wink, nudge, nudge you’ll never sleep / eat a hot meal / have a shower / go out to a restaurant again blah blah’, there was pretty much no information for what happens after we left the hospital. So far in my experience, this has been more complex, messy, stressful and life changing than the (admittedly intense) 24 hours of childbirth. 

The event itself was a big experience. But you know what? Whether I had done the classes, read the books, turned up to the appointments or not, it would have happened anyway, and irrespective of all the preparedness work I had done, I still didn’t have much of a clue what to do when we left the hospital. And I wonder if sometimes disaster experiences are like that? I remember talking to an incredibly experienced CFA member who had stayed and defended his property during Black Saturday. He told me that he was as prepared as anyone could have been, but at the end of the day it made him wonder about spending all those thousands of hours on preparing for a fire when he had no idea what to do on the day after.

2.    Everyone is having their own unique experience. But…

While I absolutely approach every community, family and person that I meet after a disaster as having gone through something that no one else has gone through in the exact same way, after working in recovery for a few years, it became apparent how reliably some patterns emerge for many communities. We also see patterns in health and relationship impacts. 

I have a good friend who is also (by coincidence) my maternal and child health nurse, and she says that the same is true for the new parents that she meets. Everyone is living in a different circumstance and has had a different set of conditions, but there are almost always patterns that she can spot from experience. 

Being able to recognise these patterns isn’t about detracting from the individual experience, they’re helpful in being able to identify things that might assist.

3.    This is a gendered experience

I used to joke that when I had left my notes at the office, I only needed to look at the gendered make up of the meeting that I was at to figure out if I was in a social recovery or infrastructure meeting. If it was infrastructure there sure wasn’t going to be a queue for the ladies loo, and if it were social recovery there would be perhaps one or two men there (and many, many plates of baked goods).

When it comes to the day to day of caring for children, in Australia as with much of the world, it’s still largely considered to be women’s work. I have the good fortune to be in a position where my partner and I decided that we could afford for me to take a year of maternity leave, which is a luxury not afforded to many families, and I note the privileged position we are in. I know families come in all shapes and sizes, and there are some families where there is only one adult, and some where day-to-day care is divided evenly. I know there are full time stay at home dads out there, and I think that my network would be richer if it included them, it’s just that I haven’t met one in real life.

Raising children? You’ll be told that it’s the most important job in the world. That you’re literally keeping another human alive. That there is nothing more important than making sure our little people have the solid foundations to becoming well adjusted adults. That you’ll never have this opportunity again. That you’re raising the next generation of citizens. Important stuff.  

Helping re-stitch the torn social fabric of a community post disaster? Similarly, you’ll be told that it’s the most important role there is. While some people are rebuilding roads, you’re helping to rebuild lives and communities, and that’s what it’s all about. Without the recovery of the people, there is no point in recovering the buildings. You’ll never have this opportunity again. The people and the community are what it’s all about. Important stuff.

None of this is untrue. It warms your heart, doesn’t it?

Want to know what else it warms? Nothing that requires a heating bill to be paid with cash. Because there isn’t much of that associated with either of these tremendously important, but often unpaid roles. 

4.    The importance of proximal social capital… or why it’s important to have people close by

For years I have had massive professional crushes on a number of researchers who have done some amazing work on the role of social capital in disaster recovery. Lori Peek, Daniel Aldrich, Emily Chamlee-Wright, Yuko Nakagawa… Be still my beating, geeky heart.

The thing is, I got it intellectually, and I got it from an observation perspective. I saw with my own eyes that the individuals and communities that had strong local links did indeed seem to do better than the ones who didn’t.


I didn’t really know know it, because I haven’t had it much in my adult life. In my defense, I have lived 19 places in 13 years (across five countries), so the idea of geographically proximal connections was neither here nor there for me. It looked good, but it was something other people did. I only moved to the suburb I now live in the year that I had my baby, and my immediate family live interstate. The strongest connections I had had nothing to do with geography, and in this modern digital age on the whole that wasn’t much of a problem. 

Until you are somewhat confined to the geography of where you live, and under stress, in which case it turns out it’s incredibly helpful to have people who don’t live very far away from you on your team.

I’m definitely not the first to say this, but my mothers group (well, technically new parents group, but see point 3) has been an amazing thing for me. Not only are there nine other women of the same age who are sort of going through the same thing, but the information flow is freaking phenomenal. Want to know the best GP in our area? The creepiest? Who the pharmacist is that will help if you call after hours? Where nappies are on sale this week? Which café will help with the pram and which will make you feel like a leper? Whether the casual day care down the road is ok? 

These women, along with the local parents Facebook group are a force to be reckoned with. They could basically make or break small businesses in our area just through word of mouth on the inside of a week. If a disaster were to hit our town, it would be people like them and networks like these that the information would flow through.

I finally have social capital that’s geographically located where I live. And for the first time since I moved out of my folks place, it is the thing that is binding me to where I live, rather than the location of my house.

5.    If you have a partner, there will be strains on your relationship

The excellent Dr. Rob Gordon talks a lot in his presentations about how if there are 50 people in a room experiencing a disaster at the exact time, there will be 50 different experiences. The literature shows us that the impacts that disasters have on people are a combination of what their life experiences were like before the event, what the experience of the event was like, and their experience after. That means that even if you and your partner go through a disaster event together, there’s a good chance that your experience of it, and the subsequent recovery, will be different. At some point, this difference will probably cause friction.

There are definitely some parallels here with becoming a first time parent. If you have a partner, it doesn’t matter how close and connected you are, the experience will be different for both of you, for about… oh, a thousand different reasons. The physical and physiological experience, the gendered expectations, the social conditioning, your own family history, past experience, your own capacity to deal with change, the day to day role you play, and the fact that you’re just different people are just a few.

Add stressors to this equation, be it financial, sleep deprivation, added responsibility, identity changes, and all the other things that life continues to throw your way, there are inevitably going to be strains on your relationship. That’s not to say that most people won’t get through them. In fact, it may make them a stronger team. But in both recovering from a disaster and becoming new parents, there is documented evidence that break ups, incidences of mental health problems and family violence become more prevalent. If you’re struggling, it’s normal and there is help out there.

6.    Most people will be ok with the support of friends, family and colleagues.

The number one message that I promote in my work in disaster recovery is that most people will recover well if they have good, supportive people around them and can access the help they need when they need it. It’s more important than government grants, than specialised programs, and politician’s promises. This isn’t something I made up, the research backs it up. That doesn’t mean that the road to recovery is a smooth and pleasant experience for most people. It’s a long and bumpy one. A marathon not a sprint, as they say. The difference for people who have supportive people around them, and the people that don’t is phenomenal.

I’m in the privileged position to have the support of a wonderful partner, rock solid family, great friends who ‘get it’ and colleagues of the lovely-checking-to-see-how-its-going-and-not-putting-pressure-on-you variety. I live in a wealthy, well-serviced part of Melbourne, so I have access to just about any service I need. I cannot imagine how bloody hard this would have been any other way, and I tip my hat and applaud in awe to those who have been able to do this in more challenging circumstances. And if you are one of those people who have become a first time parent while going through a disaster… well, I have no suitable words of praise and admiration for you, because my jaw is on the floor as I try to contemplate what you must have had to manage.

And now, back to that marathon…

When Kate Brady isn’t on maternity leave, she is the National Recovery Coordinator for Australian Red Cross, and a PhD student at the University of Melbourne looking at what people who have been through a disaster think is helpful in recovery. You can check out (and participate in!) her research at


(i)  As a side note, what’s with the ‘thru’ thing? Is ‘through’ really too unwieldy for those stickers and fridge magnets?

(ii) Bahahahahahaha

Project update - November 2015

Some of you will be on the countdown to Christmas, school holidays, 2015 to be done and dusted or the release of the new Star Wars movie (7 more sleeps the three superfans in my life assure me).

For me, I’m on the countdown to having a baby (8 more sleeps if we’re going by the medical records but who knows really), so this will be the last update on the research project for a little while as I go on maternity leave.

I’m still looking forward to receiving letters from anyone who is interested in participating. While I understand that this time of the year is usually hectic for everyone, if there’s time in the coming months to sit down and put your thoughts down, I’d love to receive them. While I’ll be taking a few months off, I’m committed to coming back to the research as soon as I can, so please continue to send letters in as it suits you.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in some nerdy recovery reading for the (southern hemisphere) summer, check out some of the stuff coming out of NZ here.

Have a happy and safe festive season, and a great start to 2016


Project update - October 2015 (sort of)

Project update – October 2015


Hi there,

Happy belated World Disaster Risk Reduction day for a few weeks ago.

This is a belated October update as I was waiting for an article I wrote to come out so I could share it. Lots of people use the words ‘disaster victim’ and ‘disaster survivor’ interchangeably and it’s irked me for some time, so I decided to write about it.

Thanks to some prompting by the lovely Bob Jensen a few years ago, I was able to do a little informal experiment about whether we view victims and survivors differently, and whether that’s a positive or negative thing.

While this isn’t supposed to be a rigorous piece of academic research (more a quick check to see if its something that needs more investigation), it’s an indication that our words probably do matter and have an impact on how we act, and how we see others.

In a nutshell, when I asked just under 120 professional emergency communicators what they thought of victims and survivors, they came back with some pretty different views. While they thought of survivors as resilient, strong and resourceful, they viewed victims as distressed, vulnerable and afraid. That led them to viewing victims and survivors as having different roles in a disaster.

If you’re interested in reading the article (not very long, I promise!), you can view it for free at the Australian Journal of Emergency Management here or you can drop me a line at and I’ll send you a copy.

Just a quick update and a gentle reminder to anyone who has decided that they’d like to take part in the research – I’m still looking for people to participate in the project. Thanks to the people who have said they’re working on their letters – I’m looking forward to reading them soon!




Project update - September 2015

Welcome to spring (for those in the southern hemisphere anyway). If where you are is anything like Melbourne this afternoon, you could well be forgiven for thinking that we’re still in the middle of winter – that wind is icy!

In excellent news, a touch over 650 people have come to visit the website, and letters from people telling their recovery stories are still arriving. Thanks!

In September there have been thoughtful and thought provoking letters arrive from people who have experienced the Ash Wednesday fires (which happened in 1983), Canterbury earthquakes and the Tasman Peninsula fires. Thanks again to everyone who has put so much time and care into their contributions, it’s much appreciated.

I’m still keen to receive letters from anyone who is interested in participating. I’m especially keen to receive as many as I can before the end of November as (in some ‘other life’ news) I’m expecting my first baby to arrive in December.

While I will be taking some time off for maternity leave, I plan to come back to keep going with the research just as soon as I figure out how to wrangle a baby and study (gulp). Others who have been there before me assure me that it is possible, it just takes a little bit of time to figure out how it all works.

For more information about participating in the research, go to or email me at



Project update - August

Happy August!

In exciting news, I'm happy to report that more than 500 people have come to the website since it was launched in June.

In even more exciting news, letters have started coming in from people who are recovering from the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes, the 2009 Victorian fires, the 2011 Margaret River fires and the 2013 Tasman Peninsula fires. These letters discuss what has been helpful and unhelpful in recovery, and are rich in detail and very insightful. Each participant provides unique perspectives on the complexity of recovery, and I'd like to thank everyone who has taken the time to write a letter so far.

I'm not intending on using this update as a place to get into the nitty gritty of the process of analysis, but if you want to know more, get in touch and I'm happy to provide more information.

If you are interested in writing a letter about what has been helpful and unhelpful in your recovery experience, I'd love to hear from you. Visit or email me at for more information.



The letters are coming in!

I'm happy to report that people have started sending in their letters from Australia and New Zealand! Thanks to those people who have sent their letters in, it's much appreciated.

Now recruiting for research participants

We are now recruiting for participants to be a part of the 'This is what happens after' research project.

If you are interested in participating, please check out for more information.

If you are part of a network that you think would like information about the project, please get in touch through the contacts page. Alternately, here is some text (ethics committee approved) that you might like to use:

Kate Brady is a PhD student from the University of Melbourne is undertaking a research project about disaster recovery. She is hoping to learn more about what people have found most helpful and unhelpful when they have been impacted by a disaster.

 The study is open to adults who have experienced a disaster event a minimum of two years ago. Participants will be asked to write a letter to themselves about what they found helpful and unhelpful after the disaster they experienced.

 For more information, go to or contact Kate Brady at

Welcome to "This is what happens after"

Welcome to the new site for the "This is what happens after" disaster recovery research page.

This project is currently going through the ethics process. If all goes according to plan (fingers crossed!), we will begin participant recruitment for the study in early 2015. 

If you have any questions in the meantime, please head over to the contacts page and get in touch.