Compound, Cascading and Lingering Disasters - Panel 2

Compound disasters (where unrelated disasters occur simultaneously) are becoming the norm, rather than the exception, and the response to upcoming disasters in 2020 and 2021 will be done under the continued presence of the COVID pandemic. The idea of cascading disasters has recently been epitomised by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, which was triggered when an earthquake generated a tsunami which led to reactor meltdowns, hydrogen explosions and radioactive contamination. Here two ‘natural’ disasters occurring one after the other in a relatively short amount of time caused a third ‘technological’ disaster. The ‘lingering’ effects of a disaster affect recovery and the resilience of impacted communities, yet are rarely mentioned in the media once the focus on the original disaster fades from public consciousness.

This is is the second of two panels exploring complex disasters. This panel focuses on explaining different types of multiple disasters and exploring their impacts.


Dr Deborah O'Connell (CSIRO): Building Resilience

Dr Mark Crosweller (Ethical Intelligence): Resilience, Risk Reduction, and Vulnerability: A Conversation and Case Study

Dr Melissa Parsons (UNE): The Australian Disaster Resilience Index: An assessment of disaster resilience in Australia

Dr Arnagretta Hunter (ANU): How planetary health can lead to healthy disaster resilience


Dr Deborah O'Connell is a Principal Research Scientist at the CSIRO. She is experienced in designing and applying contemporary scientific and engagement approaches to complex, real world problems. She uses systems approaches and enjoys working with people to build strong connections between scientists; those who make decisions in business, government and NGOs; and the communities that care about the issues at stake. She has a creative approach to collaboration and co-production of knowledge, and embraces the arts and humanities as critical ways to improve the relevance and impact of science.

Mr Mark Crosweller is the Founder and Director of Ethical Intelligence; former Head of the National Resilience Taskforce; former Director General of Emergency Management Australia; and the former Director of the Australiasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council. He has worked for over 20 years with or for Senior and Chief Executives, local Councillors and Mayors, State and Federal Ministers as well as Prime Ministers and their respective governments, on matters of strategy, policy, operations, risk and resilience within often times highly complex, ambiguous and uncertain environments.

Dr Melissa Parsons is a Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Fellow - Faculty of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences and Education; School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at the University of New England. Melissa has worked on several national-scale environmental assessments including the National Carbon Accounting System and the AUSRIVAS river health assessment. Her post-doctoral research examined the ecological effects of the February 2000 floods across southern Africa on the rivers of Kruger National Park. Melissa currently co-leads a project within the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC to develop an Australian Natural Disaster Resilience Index.

Dr Arnagretta Hunter is a physician and cardiologist with a strong focus on patient centered care with preventative medicine focus. She is trained in non-invasive cardiac imaging, particularly non-invasive cardiac assessment. Her research interests lie in health and public policy development, particularly the influence of public policy approaches to health outcomes.

Image Credit: Dalton Bennett/The Washington Post