IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

What to do now? Tensions and Dilemmas in Responding to Natural Disasters: A Study of Three Australian State Housing Authorities

Listed author(s):
  • Keith Jacobs
  • Stewart Williams
Registered author(s):

    The floods that spread across Queensland, Australia in 2011 provided a salutary reminder of the appalling consequences of disasters. In Australia, all tiers of government have put in place protocols to minimise adverse consequences and response strategies for when disasters occur. While there is a considerable body of literature on disaster management, there has not been any single study that examines the role of housing authorities and the way that key actors involved engage and negotiate the complex array of tasks required. In many ways, this omission is surprising since housing authorities play a significant role in many recovery operations that require temporary accommodation for residents, repairs to damaged property and welfare support for householders affected. To address this lacuna, this paper reports on research that explored how Australian state housing authorities respond to disasters. It draws upon interviews with individuals who had practical experience of disasters and public housing tenants who were affected in the Canberra bushfires 2003, Cyclone Larry in far north Queensland in 2006 and the coastal storms and floods affecting NSW in 2007. Among the findings are the tensions that arise when agencies seek to enable locally based decision-making arrangements while also attempting to maintain control from the centre. Even when meticulous planning has been put in train, there is often a sense of confusion accentuated by the complexity of the competing tasks required of response teams. Bureaucratic control systems, although well intentioned, can actually impede agencies' ability to manage the aftermath of a disaster. There are implications for researchers as well as practitioners in disaster management.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal International Journal of Housing Policy.

    Volume (Year): 11 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 175-193

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:taf:intjhp:v:11:y:2011:i:2:p:175-193
    DOI: 10.1080/14616718.2011.573206
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    Order Information: Web:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:intjhp:v:11:y:2011:i:2:p:175-193. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Michael McNulty)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.