Contents & Abstracts
Editorial : Humanitarian
Aid following disasters: Problems, issues and directions.
by Douglas Paton & John Raftery
Much of the research on disasters focuses on symptoms and recovery in the weeks and months following the incident with relatively few studies examining the longer term effects. The emphasis is often on pathological responses, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, rather than proactive forms of adaptation and recovery. This paper describes a small scale study of Disaster Action in Britain using qualitative interviews. The research highlights the importance of examining the broader social, political and legal consequences of disaster in understanding continuing proactive responses by disaster survivors.
This paper describes the results of a survey of the community perceptions of volcanic hazard issues in the town of Inglewood, 20 km northeast of the potentially active Egmont volcano. Despite the belief that volcanic hazards were unlikely to occur in a resident's lifetime the majority believe that an eruption would threaten their personal safety. There is a good awareness that ash fall is a likely hazard to affect Inglewood but the lahar hazard is one that may be underestimated or misunderstood. The study supports the notion that the public frequently have a low personal interest in risk but a high expectation of government responsibility.
In the past decade the field of traumatology has expanded to incorporate vicarious traumatisation (VT); the impact on the therapist of exposure to traumatic client material. This study was designed to investigate the VT effects experienced by therapists who work with sexual abuse/assault survivors. Twelve psychologists and professional counsellors participated in semi-structured interviews which explored their responses to hearing traumatic material, perceived effects of VT, alterations in their cognitive schemata and their coping strategies. Findings indicated that therapists experience a variety of severe negative effects which may have a pervasive impact on their functioning in both personal and professional domains. However, positive sequelae were also noted, and thus it is suggested that our conceptualisation of VT may be limited. The need to educate therapists about the potential impact of VT and possible coping and preventive strategies is highlighted.
This report gives a brief synopsis of the recent flood event on the Lower Waikato River, located approximately 50 km south of Auckland, New Zealand. Extremely high river levels were experienced on the Waikato and Waipa Rivers between 9-20 July due to widespread, and in places record rainfall. As a result, urban centres including Hamilton, Ngaruawahia, Huntly, and Mercer were inundated. Farms adjacent to the Waipa River, Whangamarino Wetland, and properties fringing Lakes' Taupo and Waikare were also affected. This event came off the back of a previous deluge that occurred only a week before. These back to back deluges (along with already saturated ground conditions) and successive frontal bands meant that rivers were unable to cope with the copious amounts of water entering the catchment. Flood warnings and management systems generally worked very well, and the Lower Waikato Waipa Control Scheme performed as per design.