Australia faces the challenges of a changing threat landscape.

Cyclones, floods, drought, and bushfires are familiar hazards and continue to cause widespread disruption and damage to rural and urban communities, local and regional economies, and essential services. Many of these issues are likely to be exacerbated by climate change, variable weather, and COVID-19.

Improving resilience entails going beyond disaster response alone and requires emphases on risk reduction via impact planning, vulnerability analyses and proactive governance: all of which contribute to ensuring the direct and cascading impacts of natural hazards and other disruptions on individuals, communities and the environment are minimised.    

The University of New South Wales has considerable research, development, and advocacy expertise relevant to better understand the options for mitigating the impacts of the threat landscape we confront today, and for anticipating those we will have to deal with in our near and distant future.

While holding leading capability in these areas, the UNSW has reached a conclusion that the complexity of the challenges we face now and into the future can be addressed by combining skills and expertise from across the University to develop and enhance insight into and potential solutions for many of the significant threats we face as a society.  With this reality in mind the University has established the Resilient Futures Collective. 

Operating as both a creativity incubator and a multidisciplinary research capability, the RFC draws on the expertise of core specialists drawn from all UNSW Faculties active in understanding and mitigating the cascading and cumulative impacts of natural hazards and related disturbances.

Applying a wide lens of all-hazards risk reduction and resilience building the RFC works independently where opportunity and needs warrant and collaboratively with specialist UNSW research groups and networks to support linking expertise in adaptive and unique ways to address the emergent policy and developmental needs of communities, local, state, and federal government, and the private sector.

Many post-disaster/crisis investigations into causes & enabling co-factors have noted precursor conditions (vulnerabilities) and triggering events leading to the emergence of disruptions with effects that then cascade into other impacts: with cumulative and often counter-intuitive effects. 

The RFC’s approach to analysis and option development is framed around a ‘Crisis Continuum’ model that details cascading impacts charactersied by uncertainty, ignorance, contested governance and surprise: all in the context of complex interactions across time and spatial scales. 

A diagram showing the 'crisis continuum'

Our aims are to:

  • Bring together insight from unique combinations of UNSW capability to explore options for building and sustaining resilience in communities, local economies, and the environments.
  • Focus on defining options (with communities, and both public and private sector groups) for interrupting the causal chain at specific stages of crisis growth: pre-conditions and triggers; emergence of an issues/threats; disruptions/effects; cascading impacts; and feedback effects.   
  • Pursue these outcomes through conventional research & development and via thought leadership and collaborative activities with communities, the private sector and government.

Core Group

Associate Professor Xiaoqi Feng
Urban Health and Environment
School of Population Health
UNSW Medicine & Health 

Dr Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick
ARC Future Fellow
School of Science
UNSW Canberra

Associate Professor Kristle Romero Cortés
School of Banking and Finance
UNSW Business School

Dr Mitchell Harley
Scientia Fellow - Water Research Laboratory
School of Civil & Environmental Engineering
UNSW Engineering 

Dr Mariana Mayer Pinto
Scientia Senior Lecturer

School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences
UNSW Science

Dr Negin Nazarian, PhD
Scientia Senior Lecturer
School of Built Environment
Arts, Design & Architecture

Associate Professor Amelia Thorpe
School of Law Society & Criminology
UNSW Law & Justice 

Dr Paul Barnes
Coordinator, Resilient Futures Collective
Judith Neilson Research Fellow - Disaster Resilience
UNSW Institute for Global Development


UNSW Internal Advisors

Professor Jason J. Sharples 
Applied and Industrial Mathematics Research Group
Computational Science Initiative, School of Science 
UNSW Canberra    

Scientia Professor Jane McAdam
Director, Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law
UNSW Law & Justice

Professor Paul Maddison
Director UNSW Defence Research Institute
UNSW Canberra/ADFA    

Professor A. J. Pitman
Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes 

UNSW Sydney

Professor Evelyne de Leeuw
Director, HUE (Healthy Urban Environments) Collaboratory Director, Centre for Health Equity Training, Research & Evaluation (CHETRE)

Professor David Sanderson
Inaugural Judith Neilson Chair in Architecture 
UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture

Scientia Professor Deo Prasad
UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture

Scientia Professor Mat Santamouris
Anita Lawrence Chair High Performance Architecture
UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture

Professor Chris Pettit 
Director, City Futures Research Centre

UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture

The Risk & Resilience Dialogues are video discussions with Australian & International thinkers about their work, ideas, and the challenges they see in ‘risk’ governance, achieving disaster risk reduction & enhancing socio-technical and institutional resilience.  They are intended to explore the contemporary thinking and experiences of individuals from diverse backgrounds.


Leanne Close

Leanne Close APM - Coordinator - BizRebuild (Business Council of Australia)

BizRebuild is a business-led initiative, developed by the Business Council of Australia, to provide practical and on the ground assistance to small and local businesses left devastated by the bushfires and floods. It is designed specifically to help businesses recover to create jobs, rebuild stronger communities and restore thriving local economies.


Dr Diaswati Mardiasmo

As Chief Economist of PRD Real Estate Dr Mardiasmo monitors a wide variety of macro and microeconomic trends, both within and external to Australia, that directly and indirectly impact the Australian residential real estate (housing) market. Dr Mardiasmo serves on the Reserve Bank of Australia Liaison Program, acting as an independent professional from within the property industry.


Professor Andy Pitman

Professor Andy Pitman – UNSW Climate Change Research Centre


Guy Richardson

Guy Richardson is Business Continuity Coordinator at Icon Water (The Utility Company providing potable water and sewerage services to the Natipjal Capital).  He is has overall responsibility for the development and implementation of Icon Water's business continuity plans, including alignment of BCP functions with Icon's emergency management arrangements.


Christian Fjader

Christian Fjäder is CEO of the Geostrategic Intelligence Group (GIG), Finland.  He was formerly Director, Policy, Planning and Analysis at the Finnish National Emergency Supply Agency (NESA).

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