Our People

Project Leader

About

Mel is an Occupational Psychologist at Macquarie University.

Prior to this, Mel was a member of the University of Western Sydney Disaster Response and Resilience Research Group. She joined UWS as a Senior Research Fellow in February 2007, following a 20 year career in Human Factors in the UK. Since joining UWS she has worked in the areas of psychosocial impacts of disasters and emergencies and related preparedness and response behaviour. Her work in these areas has spanned a range of threats that would generally be regarded as  significant to national security, and usually fall into the category of low probability high consequence events. These include pandemic influenza, floods, terrorism (including CBRNE terrorism), radiological and nuclear incidents or accidents, and emergency animal diseases (EAD), such as equine influenza, ovine Johne's disease, and Hendra virus. Her work includes public and emergency responder preparedness, actual or anticipated response, and psychosocial recovery and resilience in the context of these events.

Mel's current interests centre on emergency and disaster preparedness and protective responses, for example uptake of vaccination, compliance with public health and animal health recommendations, and animal health and biosecurity practices. During the last twelve months Mel has studied the impacts of risk communication and risk messaging on anticipated response to Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) terrorism, the use of social media for emergency information synthesis and as a source of psychological first aid during the floods and cyclone Yasi in 2011, and the animal health management practices of Australian sheep producers and the role of livestock agents in influencing sheep producer behaviours.In collaboration with researchers at the University of Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science she has also been involved in research on veterinarians' risk perceptions and infection control practices to zoonoses, and  horse owner biosecurity practices and perceptions of the response to the 2007 outbreak of equine influenza in Australia. 

In 2012 Mel is working on an ARC funded Discovery project with the University of Queensland investigating resilience in Brisbane communities following the 2011 floods, and she is leading a three year research project funded through the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) from the National Hendra Virus Research Program. This project (HHALTER) will follow a large national cohort of horse owners to investigate their knowledge, attitudes, and biosecurity practices in relation to Hendra virus and to investigate their attitudes to the national response, including uptake of vaccination, in the context of this dynamic threat.

During her career in the UK Mel specialised in the optimization of human performance. She has been involved in the assessment of human performance and human error in safety-critical systems, e.g. aviation, military operations, and she has experience in using a wide range of research methodologies. Many projects investigated human performance and limitations in stressful environments, or in the presence of stressors; such as sleep deprivation, shift-work, sustained operations, noise, hypoxia, team conflicts, uncertainty, and psychological over- and under- arousal.

Project leadership

Concern for animals can impact on people’s decision-making and behaviour during natural disasters – sometimes risking lives. There has been little research in this area to guide policy development and training needs. This project is leveraging current initiatives, programs and research on prevention and preparedness by providing complementary research on the impact of animals on response and recovery, both for the community and responders.
This project, currently under development, will begin on 1 July 2017. It will develop an understanding of the motivations, beliefs, decision making processes and information needs of at-risk groups for flood fatalities. It will cover both age and gender, including an understanding of what a Plan B would look like, how to motivate proactive decision making ahead of the journey, what the current challenges and barriers are to this and what further support and information is needed. Outcomes will include targeted risk communication materials.
Year Type Citation
2016 Report Taylor, M. Managing Animals in Disasters - improving preparedness, response and resilience through organisational collaboration: Annual project report 2015-2016. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2015 Conference Paper Taylor, M., McCarthy, M. & Eustace, G. The integration of informal volunteers into animal emergency management: experiences from the 2015 South Australian bushfires - non peer reviewed extended abstract. Adelaide Conference 2015 (2015).
2015 Journal Article Smith, B. P., Taylor, M. & Thompson, K. Risk perception, preparedness and response of livestock producers to bushfires: a South Australian case study. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 30, (2015).
2015 Journal Article Smith, B., Thompson, K. & Taylor, M. What’s the Big Deal? Responder Experiences of Large Animal Rescue in Australia. PLOS Currents Disasters (2015). doi:10.1371/currents.dis.71d34082943fa239dbfbf9597232c8a5
2015 Journal Article Taylor, M. et al. The challenges of managing animals and their owners in disasters: perspectives of Australian response organisations and stakeholders. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 30, (2015).
2015 Conference Paper Taylor, M. et al. Experiences of responders in supporting animals and their owners in disasters Conference Paper 2014. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC Wellington Conference 2014 (2015).
2015 Journal Article Taylor, M., Lynch, E., Burns, P. & Eustace, G. The preparedness and evacuation behaviour of pet owners in emergencies and natural disasters. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 30, (2015).
2015 Report Taylor, M. Managing Animals in Disasters: Improving Preparedness, Response and Resilience Annual Report 2014. (2015).
2015 Report Taylor, M. Managing animals in disasters: Annual project report 2014-2015. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2015 Report Taylor, M., Eustace, G. & McCarthy, M. Animal Emergency Management in Australia. (2015).

Posters credited

Managing animals in disasters (MAiD): Improving preparedness, response, and resilience through individual and organisational collaboration


The Managing Animals in Disasters project (MAiD) is seeking to identify and build best practice approaches to animal welfare emergency management to enable engagement with animal owners and other stakeholders in disasters/emergencies.  

Managing Animals in Disasters (MAiD): Improving Preparedness, Response, and Resilience through Individual and Organisational Collaboration


The Managing Animals in Disasters project (MAiD) is seeking to identify and build best practice approaches to animal emergency management to enable engagement with animal owners and other stakeholders in disasters and emergencies.

The Interactions Between Emergency Responders and Animal Owners in Bushfire: Improving Community Preparedness and Response Outcomes


The purpose of this study is to develop best practice methods for preparedness and response practices in a bushfire hazard, with the aim of enhancing community well-being and safety. Effective collaboration between animal owners, emergency responders and the whole of community could be one way to narrow the gap between hazard awareness and hazard survival. 

Key Topics:
Megan McCarthy Conference Poster 2016


This project is leveraging current initiatives, programs and research on prevention and preparedness by providing complementary research on the impact of animals on response and recovery, both for the community and responders.

Key Topics:

All the resources from our 2016 conference

Research program in detail

Where, why and how are Australians dying in floods?

2015-2016 year in review

Bushfire planning with kids ebook