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Contents & Abstracts
Volume 2011-3

The Australasian Journal of Disaster
and Trauma Studies
ISSN:  1174-4707
Volume : 2011-3

This journal publication has been revised and is now presented as a series of individual PDF files as linked below.
The complete issue can also be retrieved as a single PDF file.

Contents page -Volume 2011-3


Leadership Through a School Tragedy: A Case Study (Part 1 - The First Week)
Ruth Tarrant

Keywords: leadership, school, tragedy, crisis, psychosocial, grief

The present study investigates the principal’s leadership through a crisis in a New Zealand school where six Year-12 students and a teacher lost their lives in a river canyoning tragedy while attending an outdoor education camp. The principal was interviewed two years after the event. The study discusses strategies the school used to assist students, their families, and staff following the tragedy, and identifies areas where greater preparation and planning would be beneficial in crisis leadership and management for their school in the future. The principal had not been trained in crisis leadership, and there were no concise and readily available guiding documents available to him in the early phase of the crisis. It is recommended that such documents are developed for use by New Zealand school principals. The study is presented in two parts: Part 1 (essentially, the first week) covers: first steps; guidelines and support available to the principal; needs of the school; initial responses to student- and staff-grief; and managing relationships. (Part 2 covers the next two years, and should be read in association with Part 1).

Leadership Through a School Tragedy: A Case Study (Part 2 - The Next Two Years)
Ruth Tarrant

Keywords: leadership, school, tragedy, crisis, psychosocial, grief

Part Two of the present study continues an investigation of a school principal’s leadership through a crisis in a New Zealand school where six Year-12 students and a teacher lost their lives in a river canyoning tragedy; the students were attending an outdoor education camp in the central North Island. There is a long aftermath to a tragedy, and the ongoing demands on the leader require considerable physical, mental and emotional energy. Part 2 covers the principal’s leadership concerning the tragedy in the two years following the event. Part 2 covers: support for the school; support for grieving students, staff and families; tributes and memorials; issues of safety; and looking after the leader. Part 2 should be read in association with Part 1 (which covered, essentially, the first week of the tragedy). Background material for Part 2, and an outline of the Method, are contained in Part 1.

Is “Fear Itself” The Only Thing We Have To Fear? Explorations of Psychology in Perceptions of the Vulnerability of Others
James Lewis, Ilan Kelman & Sarah A V Lewis

Keywords: fear, denial, psychology, vulnerability

This paper highlights the importance of understanding and exploring some psychological aspects of perceptions of the vulnerability of others that contribute to disasters. Despite decades of research suggesting how to improve, fear and denial of vulnerability are too frequently seen in practice. These points are corroborated through comparative contexts in financial management, industrial disaster, social care, construction, and climate change. Post-disaster publication of independent, comprehensive, and analytical reports explaining why disasters occurred would identify practical steps for countering aspects of fear and denial that contribute to risk and disasters.

“Tired of Caring”: The Impact of Caring on Resident Doctors
Peter Huggard & Robyn Dixon

Keywords: Physicians, compassion fatigue, burnout, compassion satisfaction, vicarious trauma

Compassion fatigue, also referred to as secondary traumatic stress, is increasingly being acknowledged as a possible consequence of working in any helping and caring profession. Previous research has focused on examining this construct in a variety of health professionals – social workers, counsellors, psychologists and nurses; however, little attention has been paid to this experience in doctors. This research examined the presence of compassion fatigue in doctors. A self-selected sample of 253 doctors, working in four locations in New Zealand and training in a variety of specialty disciplines, participated in this research by completing an anonymous questionnaire which included the ProQOL (Professional Quality of Life) instrument. This instrument measures compassion fatigue, burnout and compassion satisfaction. Results indicated that 17.1% of the sample appeared to be at risk for compassion fatigue as indicated by a high score on that subscale of the ProQOL, and 19.5% at risk of burnout. These results are similar to those reported in studies of other health professionals and suggest a need for caution on the part of clinicians and employers as to the potentially emotionally demanding aspects of patient care.

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