Ready for Anything

This project aims to engage with key stakeholders in the Illawarra and South Coast region to understand the performance of Evacuation Centres during the 2019/20 bushfires.

Bermagui, a quiet coastal town on the NSW South Coast approximately 50 km north of UOW Bega Valley campus, has a population of 1,500 throughout most of the year. On New Year’s Day 2020, approximately 5,000 people descended on the Bermagui Surf Lifesaving Club when it was opened as a designated Evacuation Centre in response to the bushfires ravaging the Australian east coast. Stories of heroism, sacrifice and community spirit emerged from Bermagui Surf Lifesaving Club and other Illawarra South Coast Evacuation Centres opened during the 2019/20 bushfires.  

Many of these stories are built on the back of difficult circumstances, including a lack of core infrastructure (e.g. power, communications, and water), information and capabilities. There exists, therefore, an opportunity to engage with key stakeholders and ask, ‘How did our Evacuation Centres perform during the 2019/20 bushfires?’ and, perhaps more importantly, ‘How can we make these Evacuation Centres better serve communities in times of emergencies and beyond?’

Data collected will be analysed to provide recommendations for deploying best-practices technologies and solutions that meet the identified needs and provide a clear path forward for implementation in Evacuation Centres. When implemented, these solutions will enable Evacuation Centres to provide greater benefit the community during emergencies – and be a valuable community asset outside of emergencies.


Duane Robinson (EIS) has significant experience in multi-discipline research projects. As team leader, Duane will assist with oversight of the management of the research team and provide supervision and assistance for research associates and students as appropriate.

Cathrine Nielsen-Hewett (ASSH) is the Academic Director of the Early Years and the Director of Pedagogical Studies, Early Start at the University of Wollongong. She brings expertise in research translation, leading initiatives aligning University and community with the goal of improving educational and social opportunities for young children in regional, rural, and remote contexts.

Matthew Pepper (BAL) Is a Senior Lecturer with the School of Management and Marketing. Matt will lead the economic theme of the project and will provide key guidance on translating technical possibilities into economic feasibilities, focusing on a holistic understanding of total value and benefits.

Sean Elphick (EIS) is the Research Coordinator at the Australian Power Quality and Reliability Centre (APQRC). Sean has expertise in electricity supply delivery and resilience as well as renewable energy integration. Sean has extensive links with the electricity supply industry and will facilitate stakeholder engagement with these organisations.

Nurul (Izzah) Afandi (EIS) is a researcher with the Australian Power Quality and Reliability Centre. Izzah has expertise in the delivery of electrical power and modelling of power systems. Izzah will undertake analysis of practical issues surrounding resilience of electrical power supplies and quantifying extended benefits of improving power supply resilience to the community.

Jonathan Knott (AIIM) is a UOW early career researcher and Research Fellow at AIIM. Jon will bring his expertise in energy storage technologies and will provide support in understanding how energy storage solutions could be integrated into alternative electricity supply solutions.

Albert Munoz-Aneiros (BAL) is a Lecturer with the School of Management and Marketing and an Associate Fellow at the SMART Infrastructure Facility. Albert will undertake the cost benefit analysis activities and will leverage his expertise in disaster management modelling to determine additional benefits that can be derived from solutions identified in the project.

Andrew Glover (ASSH) has an established track record in conducting social research and developing materials for engaging with communities on issues related to energy and environmental sustainability. He has experience in developing survey and interview materials, as well as conducting fieldwork with participants who may be experiencing social or economic disadvantage.


This project is working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

 Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure    Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.    Goal 13: Climate action   Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals