On the concept of denial of natural hazard risk and its use in relation to householder wildfire safety in Australia
|Title||On the concept of denial of natural hazard risk and its use in relation to householder wildfire safety in Australia|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2017|
|Authors||McLennan, J, Every, D, Bearman, C, Wright, L|
|Journal||International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction|
Denial has often been used to explain why some residents at risk from natural hazards do not take appropriate threat mitigation actions. However, there has been little critical discussion of the concept of denial in relation to natural hazards. We examined the origins and development of the concept and noted that denial, as an explanation for inaction, is an inferred construct, not an observable phenomenon. We reviewed accounts that proposed denial as an explanation for residents failing to mitigate their natural hazard risk. We concluded that the concept has been used so inconsistently as to be meaningless without an explanation of the intended sense of the term. We discuss findings from reports of post-event interviews with residents threatened by severe Australian wildfires, and from a survey of agency community safety senior managers. The reports indicated that small percentages of residents in high-risk communities could be described as perhaps being in denial. The survey found that none of the wildfire agencies employed the concept formally. We suggest that it may be more useful to view most householders' failures to mitigate their wildfire risk as resulting from potential threats being entwined with more immediate higher priority competing demands of everyday life.