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!