Our research and teaching aims to improve the ability of populations to plan, prepare, respond and recover from crises, emergencies and disasters of many types. We’re seeing an ongoing increase in crisis and disaster frequency and magnitude due to climate change, and also driven by rapid population growth, encroachment into the natural world, rapid resource depletion, and conflict amongst others. Researchers at the School of Population Health are focused on how to reduce the risks of crisis events and how disaster management outcomes can be most equitably and effectively realised at local, regional and global levels.

Our goals

We undertake crisis research focusing on a range of disaster types, utilising a variety of research methodologies. We focus on areas such as:

  • bushfire and natural hazards research and its impacts on communities 

  • how to improve disaster response systems through organisational change and systems modelling and simulation

  • examining the social and other determinants of disaster vulnerability and risk.


Research strengths

Areas of specific interest and program areas are:

  • emergency response systems modelling and simulation

  • modelling, analysis and measurement of emergency response organisational change

  • computational modelling of high risk emergencies such as CBRNE

  • radiation protection

  • hazard modelling and simulation

  • plume modelling

  • synthetic hazard environments for agent based simulation

  • mass casualty exercise outcome and performance measurement

  • communication and engagement strategies 

  • cecision support

  • risk assessment

  • policy and discourse analysis

  • urban health (and notably resilient cities and sustainable cities).

Our impact

Our researchers have a long history of influencing government policy and organisational change. By utilising advanced techniques such as computational modelling and simulation, conducting mass casualty and emergency exercises, and engaging directly with first responders and policymakers, we’re able to improve public health, workplace and community systems and provide more effective disaster risk reduction. New areas of research focus on strategies to enhance community engagement and communication during times of crisis including pandemics and natural disasters.

Collaborating and partnering organisations include:

  • Sydney South West Local Health District
  • Sydney Local Health District
  • South East Sydney Local Health District
  • Northern Sydney Health District
  • ACT Emergency Services Agency
  • Australian Defence Force
  • Defence Science and Technology Organisation
  • Major Incident Medical Management and Support System
  • EmergoTrain System
  • Advanced HAZMAT Life Support
  • World Association of Disaster and Emergency Medicine
  • World Health Organisation – Global Outbreak and Response Network (GOARN)
  • Defence Intelligence Organisation
  • Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine – RACP
  • NSW Ministry of Health
  • Healthy Urban Environments Collaboratory.

Our experts

Associate Dean, International and Program Director, Bachelor of International Public Health  Holly Seale
Associate Dean, International and Program Director, Bachelor of International Public Health

Our teaching

We pride ourselves on the nexus of our teaching and research. We do this in partnership with communities, centres and institutes, health services and people with lived experience and expertise.

Our research & impact

Our research and impact promotes equity, strengthens health systems and improves access to high quality care for all people in Australia and worldwide.

Our strategy

Our Health 25 Strategy aims to improve the quality of life for all by tackling the complex and important health challenges of our times.
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Ending COVID lockdown by targeting transmission with vaccination

In late July 2021, for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, New South Wales (NSW), Australia, was facing the gradual failure of lockdown and contact tracing to contain the growing wave of infections resulting from the Delta variant of the virus.

Support COVID-19 communication with Linguistically Diverse Communities

Associate Professor Holly Seale, infectious disease social scientist at the School of Population Health, has conducted research and community engagement activities to help Australia’s COVID-19 pandemic response with a focus on communication efforts with CaLD communities.