About the project

June 2015     RACHEL WESTCOTT’S PhD PROJECT OVERVIEW

Investigating the application of protection motivation theory to the behaviour of animal owners and emergency responders in bushfire natural hazards.

Please keep reading – don’t be put off by the title! It’s just research-ese for what is planned to be a project of very practical benefit to animal owners, Emergency Services and to communities at risk of bushfire anywhere. Alongside the findings of previous research, my study will try to fill gaps in knowledge which can be usefully applied to improve how everyone in our communities manages animals during a bushfire emergency. Remembering it’s people who manage animals, so it’s really about YOU! – your ideas and your experiences.

We know from science that bushfires are likely to be more frequent and more fierce in years to come. We know that people react to this knowledge in different ways, for different reasons and with different results. To keep ahead of the increased threat from bushfire, we have to get better at how we go about dealing with it. Many people believe the key to successfully doing this lies in Community. I like to add another “C” word – Collaboration.

In my study, I’m going to look at the interaction and collaboration between animal owners (of all kinds of animals) and Emergency responders during the emergency. I hope that at the end of the study, we will have together found ways to better protect yours and other communities from bushfires.  Until now, no-one has specifically asked animal owners, as a group, about their ideas and concerns for their animals in a fire, so this project is breaking new ground. Because I’m going to connect up information from animal owners and Emergency Services, we’ll have a good chance of finding answers and solutions to some of the problems you have already experienced, or might anticipate in the future.

Most of the research will take place in small discussion groups, and later in a survey. There will also be some interviews, mainly for Emergency Services. The groups will take about an hour and a half each to run, but everyone will have the opportunity to add something later they might have forgotten at the time. I often think of things I should have said afterwards, and I don’t want to miss your important information.

Look out for publicity about my project soon. You are most welcome to contact me at any time, and leave a message if I can’t pick up your call, or text or email and I can ring you back. Your support, help and interest is greatly appreciated.

THIS PROJECT IS FUNDED BY THE BUSHFIRE & NATURAL HAZARDS COOPERATIVE RESEARCH CENTRE (BNHCRC)

My Scholarships are from the University of Western Sydney, and the BNHCRC.

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HUMAN RESOURCES ETHICS COMMITTEE INFORMATION & CONSENT
Project Title: Investigating the interaction of animal owners and emergency responders in a bushfire natural hazard.
Project Summary: This project will study the interaction between animal owners and emergency responders in a bushfire. The aim of the study is to find improvements in how animals can be managed, and their owners and emergency responders assisted, in a bushfire emergency, and as well, to improve public and community safety and well-being. You are invited to participate in a research study being conducted by Rachel Westcott, PhD candidate in the Centre for Health Research, School of Medicine, under the Supervision of Dr Melanie Taylor, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Health Research, School of Medicine.
How is the study being paid for?
The study is being sponsored by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre, and is part of Dr Taylor’s larger BNHCRC project: Managing Animals in Disasters.
What will I be asked to do?
You will be asked to join a small discussion group, comprising animal owners of a similar type of animal to those you own. The discussion will be given direction by the researcher with a series of questions, but we want to hear what you have to say about animals in bushfires. If you think of things later that you would like to include, you will have the opportunity to do that if you wish. The discussions will be audio recorded so that we can transcribe the information, but you will not be identified in the transcript.
How much of my time will I need to give?
The group discussion will take about 90 minutes to complete, with a break in the middle of the session. You will need to allow for travel to and from the venue, which will be in the Port Lincoln township.
What specific benefits will I receive for participating?
The main benefits for you will be the satisfaction of knowing that you have contributed to a study which aims to help the whole of your community and its animals, and hopefully other communities interstate or overseas as well. You also have the opportunity to perhaps increase your own knowledge of how to manage your own animals in a bushfire and meet people you can effectively collaborate with.
Will the study involve any discomfort for me? If so, what will you do to rectify it?
No, the study will not involve any physical discomfort for you. If there is anything you don’t wish to talk about, you are free to leave, or withdraw from the study at any time. Should you feel any emotional distress about topics discussed, we will stop the discussion immediately and make sure you have the support you need before continuing, or leaving the group.
How do you intend to publish the results?
Please be assured that only the researchers will have access to the raw data you provide.
The findings of the research will be published in the candidate’s PhD thesis, in journals such as the Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, and the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, and in conference proceedings, such as the Australasian Fire & Emergency Services Authorities Council.
*Please note that the minimum retention period for data collection is five years.
Can I withdraw from the study?
Participation is entirely voluntary and you are not obliged to be involved. If you do participate, you can withdraw at any time without giving a reason. If you do choose to withdraw, any information that you have supplied will remain as part of the recording and transcript of the discussion, but you will not be identifiable.
Can I tell other people about the study?
Yes, you can tell other people about the study by providing them with the chief investigator’s contact details. They can contact the chief investigator to discuss their participation in the research project and obtain an information sheet.
Data storage
There are a number of government initiatives in place to centrally store research data and to make it available for further research. For more information, see http://www.ands.org.au/ and
http://www.rdsi.uq.edu.au/about. Regardless of whether the information you supply or about you is stored centrally or not, it will be stored securely and it will be de-identified before it is made to available to any other researcher.
What if I require further information?
Please contact Rachel Westcott, or Dr Melanie Taylor, should you wish to discuss the research further before deciding whether or not to participate.
Rachel Westcott:  R.Westcott@uws.edu.au 0427 70 70 44
Dr Melanie Taylor:  melanie.taylor@uws.edu.au (02) 4620 3929
What if I have a complaint?
This study has been approved by the University of Western Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee. The Approval number is H11118. If you have any complaints or reservations about the ethical conduct of this research, you may contact the Ethics Committee through the Office of Research Services on Tel +61 2 4736 0229 Fax +61 2 4736 0905 or
email humanethics@uws.edu.au.
Any issues you raise will be treated in confidence and investigated fully, and you will be informed of the outcome. If you agree to participate in this study, you will be asked to sign the Participant Consent Form.

Human Research Ethics Committee
Office of Research Services
Participant Consent Form
This is a project specific consent form. It restricts the use of the data collected to the named project by the named investigators.
Project Title: Investigating the interactions of animal owners and emergency responders in a bushfire natural hazard.
I,______________________________________________ , consent to participate in the research project
titled Investigating the interactions of animal owners and emergency responders in a bushfire natural hazard.

I acknowledge that:
I have read the participant information sheet and have been given the opportunity to discuss the information and my involvement in the project with the researcher.
The procedures required for the project and the time involved have been explained to me, and any questions I have about the project have been answered to my satisfaction.
I consent to taking part in a small discussion group, and for that group to be audio recorded for research purposes.
I understand that my involvement is confidential and that the information gained during the study may be published but no information about me will be used in any way that reveals my identity.
I understand that I can withdraw from the study at any time, without affecting my relationship with the researcher now or in the future.
Signed:
Name:
Date:
Return Address: PO Box 1 Bridgewater SA 5155
This study has been approved by the University of Western Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee. The Approval number is: H11118
If you have any complaints or reservations about the ethical conduct of this research, you may contact the Ethics Committee through the Office of Research Services on Tel +61 2 4736 0229
Fax +61 2 4736 0905 or email humanethics@uws.edu.au. Any issues you raise will be treated in confidence and investigated fully, and you will be informed of the outcome.

FOR A PAPER COPY OF THE  HUMAN ETHICS INFORMATION & CONSENT SHEETS, please contact Rachel.

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