Asian Correspondent » MacQuarie University Asian Correspondent Thu, 02 Jul 2015 10:36:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Indonesian Education Attaché explores collaboration on campus Tue, 29 Jun 2010 01:43:22 +0000

The Indonesian Education Attaché, Dr Aris Junaidi visited Macquarie University last week to speak with Indonesian students and explore collaborative opportunities with Macquarie.

Dr Junaidi spoke with a small group of Indonesian students to gauge an understanding of their experience on campus and in Australia. He also met with Macquarie International staff to discuss avenues to expand the relationship between the Indonesian government, universities and Australia.

“Part of my job as Education Attaché is to visit every university and inform my government on the opportunities available for Indonesian students there,” says Dr Junaidi. “This visit has been a great success – there are many opportunities for projects between Macquarie and the Indonesian Government.”

Dr Junaidi says Australia is a popular choice for Indonesian students when it comes to higher study. “Fifteen hundred Indonesians are awarded grants from the government to go overseas and study each year,” says Dr Junaidi. “Of that number, 250 Indonesian Masters and PhD students chose to study in Australia each year. This is because Australia is our neighbour and the universities here are world-class – it’s correct that Indonesian students chose to study here.”

Dr Junaidi says he was also surprised and impressed by the online study option offered at Macquarie. “I will be encouraging university staff in Indonesia to apply for online education. It will save time and be much cheaper, but the quality of the education is similar to being on the campus. That there are opportunities like this at Macquarie is good information for me to have.”

President of Indonesian student club ‘Building Influence Generation’, Randy Julius Kartadinata, says the visit was a great honour. “It’s very rare for the Embassy to visit like this. It’s very good to get updates and more knowledge on the issues affecting Indonesian students straight from the Indonesian Embassy,” he says. “It’s an honour to talk to them about being an Indonesian student in Australia.”


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China and Macquarie strengthen collaborative ties Fri, 11 Jun 2010 01:30:32 +0000

Collaborative relationships between Macquarie University and Chinese partner universities were strengthened this month through a successful visit by Macquarie’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Steven Schwartz. 

Universities in the prestigious C9 League, including Tsinghua University, Fudan University and Nanjing University, share valuable academic relationships with Macquarie University across a diverse range of fields. 

Rewarding research partnerships between Macquarie University and China have gained momentum since 2006 when Macquarie signed an agreement with the Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC). Since then, five to six CSC recipients have enrolled in Macquarie doctoral programs each year. 

“China plays a very important role in Macquarie University’s research and internationalization strategies. Currently, nine of our 24 Priority 1 research partner universities are leading Chinese universities. Among our 500+ international PhD students, Chinese (both direct entry and joint supervised PhDs) are one of the largest groups. Personally, I visit China at least once a year to visit my research collaborators in leading Chinese universities. I find these trips very rewarding and enjoyable,” says Professor Jim Piper, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research. 

Highly regarded Chinese researchers have been particularly drawn to Macquarie’s top research areas including Physical and Earth Sciences.

In May this year, Vice-Chancellor Schwartz led a delegation to China to further relations with esteemed partner universities and meet with alumni. Amongst the trip highlights, Vice-Chancellor Schwartz met with President Yang of Fudan University and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on a Jointly-Supervised PhD (Cotutelle) Program. Vice-Chancellor Schwartz also hosted a dinner in Shanghai’s Grand Hyatt for recent Chinese graduates of Macquarie University, to which approximately 70 alumni attended. 

While in Shanghai, the Vice-Chancellor visited the Australian Pavilion at the World Expo for an Australian Education International China – Australia Alumni event and attended further alumni functions in Beijing. 

During his time in Beijing, the Vice-Chancellor also met with Professor Hu, Vice Chairman of the University Council of Tsinghua University where they jointly signed an MOU on International Cooperation and a Student Exchange Agreement. 

“Macquarie University is delighted to announce the signing of a student exchange agreement with Tsinghua University. This agreement signifies further consolidation of the important relationship which exists between our institutions and will facilitate mobility of students between our respective universities,” says Executive Director – Macquarie International, Alison Taylor.

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Investment bank internship pays dividends for Macquarie student Mon, 07 Jun 2010 01:45:52 +0000

“My internship was a good experience,” says Macquarie University Master of International Business student Kevin Lim, “one of the best in my whole life.”

The Filipino student recently completed an internship at Swiss investment bank UBS (Union Bank of Switzerland) as an elective unit in his Masters degree. The internship was organised by Macquarie University’s Internship Program. Kevin joined the Marketing Communications team at UBS and assisted with the coordination of four events over a period of two months. 

From cocktail events to panel discussions, industry seminars and a Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Kevin was exposed to a cross-section of events and tasks which helped him develop a wide set of skills. 

“Some of the events were only a week apart, so they needed to be planned simultaneously, so I needed to multitask,” says Kevin. “I definitely developed my communication skills too. The first time I was making phone calls I was really nervous and stuttering, but as I got to know the people I was working with I became more confident.”

Kevin was based at Chiefly Plaza in Sydney’s CBD. “I’d never worked in the corporate world before so it was a really good experience. The time really flew by in the office because there were so many things to do – it was fun.”

“My supervisor was very supportive and really mentored me, constantly introducing me to new people, like the Chief Executive Officer,” says Kevin.  

“I noticed a big difference in the work culture between Australia and the Philippines. I was calling my supervisor by their first name, and I would never have even seen the CEO back home. It’s really laid-back in Australia and communication is open. I was able to ask any questions I had really easily,” says Kevin.


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Macquarie PhD candidate discovers the memory of mum’s voice remains strong for young sea lions Mon, 07 Jun 2010 01:40:41 +0000

New discoveries about voice recognition in sea lions made by Macquarie University cotutelle PhD student Ben Pitcher have recently been published in Science Online and the journal Animal Cognition.

Ben’s research found that young sea lions are able to recognise their mother’s voices long after they’ve been weaned, providing rare evidence of the long-term memory capacity of wild mammals. The Graduate School of the Environment PhD candidate along with fellow researchers in collaboration with Universite Paris Sud in France originally recorded the pup-attraction calls of six female Australian sea lions.

The recordings tested the pups ability to discriminate between the calls of their mother and another adult female during their first year while they were still dependent on their mother. However, around two years later, they played back the recordings to pups that were now three and a half years old. Despite having been weaned at around one and half years old, the pups identified more strongly when hearing the sound of their mothers’ voices rather than the voices of other unknown females.

Moreover, the researchers found that the pups not only looked at and called to the speaker – but in some cases, even approached it when they heard their mothers’ voices. Ben says that elephants and fur seals are the only other mammals known to have such long-term memories for the voices of others.

He points out that it is especially helpful for animals that live in colonies to have a memory for voices, where social interactions play a large role in daily life. Also, there’s the matter of survival. A nursing pup that could not recognise its mother’s voice would starve. “The bond between mothers and pups is so strong that the memory of the mother stays with pups long after they leave their mum,” says Ben. “This type of long memory may help the formation of more complex social systems in mammals.”

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Exhilaration over scholarship win Mon, 24 May 2010 00:19:42 +0000


When Bangladeshi student Fahad Haider opened the letter informing him he’d won a Macquarie University International Scholarship, he says he was on top of the world. 

“It was a such a great feeling that all the hard work I did in high school really paid off. I can’t put it down in words – I read the letter over and over. It was a very good feeling indeed.” 

Fahad was accepted into the Bachelor of Engineering program in which he chose to specialise in Electronics. “So far I’ve found my classes really interesting. It’s so much more work than I expected but I already have the feeling it will all be worth it.

“Because I’m having to work so hard I know I’m learning – really learning. If I’m putting in this much effort now, when I finish here I am going to be pretty good at what I do. The intensity is helping me so much.”

While he is only three months into his Australian experience, returning home to apply his studies is a priority for Fahad. “I definitely want to do something in Bangladesh when I finish. Electricity is a big problem at home because we hardly have any, especially in summer. I want to help improve that.”

Fahad’s interest in electronics was sparked at a young age. He recalls being the type of child to pull apart his toys, and relish the puzzle in putting them back together. “I’ve been interested in how things work since I was young, especially in electronics. I’ve always loved maths and physics,” he says.     

Fahad’s father, also an engineer, has had a big impact on his choice of career path. “The respect my father gets as an engineer has always impressed me. He has been a big inspiration.”

Upon arriving at Macquarie Fahad says what surprised him the most was the campus. “You read about the campus but when you see it with your own eyes, it’s awesome.”

“Everything is like, wow! The lectures, the gym, the grass, the classes, the theatres. There are great buildings, as well as great greenery – campus has really good contrast,” says Fahad.

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Macquarie student fights her way to Fencing’s no. 1 ranking Mon, 17 May 2010 23:49:12 +0000


“I’ve always dreamt of waving a sword around,” says Macquarie Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Applied Finance student Cheryl Chan.

Though these days, sword-waving is not limited to her dreams, in fact, it’s a pointed part of her daily reality. Six days a week Cheryl can be found, sword in hand, practising sabre Fencing.

After dabbling in the sport throughout high school, Cheryl took up Fencing seriously at the start of university. In the two and a half years since, she has propelled her way through the sport and is now ranked 7th in Australia. A recent third-place win at the first National Championships for 2010 is likely see that ranking improve.

In the coming months Cheryl will compete in four important competitions, including three international tournaments in Bangkok (World Cup), New York (World Cup) and Seoul (Asian Championships).

Cheryl is no stranger to international travel in the name of Fencing. Her last summer was spent in Shanghai on a gruelling training trip. “After spending two months with the Chinese team I re-defined pain. ‘You’ve got to push through pain’ is a cliché but I didn’t truly understand this phrase until I was in China,” says Cheryl.

“The Chinese training regime was so harsh that I was only hanging on by a thread – my determination. That training trip taught me more about myself then fencing. I now truly believe that whatever the mind can conceive, the body can achieve,” she says.

Back in Australia, Cheryl says she is extremely fortunate to be working with Glenn Warry, the High Performance Sport Manager at Macquarie University. “He liaises with the academic staff to let me have alternate exams when I am competing overseas. To me, Glenn has the answer to my problems in university.”

Cheryl says there are two people who’ve made her who she is today. “My sister gives me courage to take on life. She has already proven to me that doing three degrees is not impossible and she encouraged me to do the same. My coach, on the other hand, showed me what I could do in fencing. He pushes me in every training session and I am grateful for it because he re-defines my limits every time.”


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Capitalising on university experiences Mon, 17 May 2010 23:44:16 +0000

“I’ve been given unparalleled opportunities at Macquarie,” says Devang Patel, Master of Accounting (CPA Extension) student. 

“I’ve been able to socialise and contribute to the university through the Buddy Program and iClub. I’ve completed an internship with an external company and I’m becoming aware of global issues through the Postgraduate Global Leadership Program. There are lots of opportunities here which are available to anyone with ambition.”

Devang began studying at Macquarie in 2008 and chose the University for its reputation and inclusion of the CPA element. “Macquarie is the only reputable university in the Asia-Pacific region to integrate the CPA Program into the Masters degree,” he says. The Master of Accounting (CPA Extension) offers students the option to gain industry accreditation as a component of their study program. 

“Settling in and adapting to a new study pattern was a challenge as it’s quite different back in India,” says Devang. “The staff in the Accounting Department and at the Centre for Macquarie English (CME) really helped make my transition a comfortable one.”

Devang says his classes are quite small, which facilitates a supportive environment. “We have 30 students on average in each class and the lecturers encourage everyone to take an active role in class discussions. My lecturers are very friendly and have always helped me out with things I’ve found challenging.”

Upon completing his studies Devang hopes to gain experience as an Auditor. Without previous work experience, Devang utilized the Career Develop Centre on campus to find internship opportunities and get his start in the industry. “Studying here will definitely help me enter the workforce. Everything I learn in the classroom is applied and practiced by Accountants in the industry.”

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New understanding of Earth’s crust formation Mon, 17 May 2010 23:42:57 +0000



A geological study that took place in the Pilbara region of Western Australia has brought fresh understanding to the precise timing of when the primordial earth crust was formed and its composition.

The study, published online in the prestigious journal Nature Geoscience, was led by Research Associate, Dr Svetlana Tessalina, of the GEMOC ARC National Key Centre, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Macquarie University. 

The team also included Prof. Pascal Philippot from the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, and colleagues from the Geological Survey of Western Australia and Switzerland. 

The earliest history of Earth remains obscure because the oldest preserved terrestrial rocks are 4.03 billion years old, leaving a window of almost 500 million years after Earth’s formation at 4.567 billion years with very little recorded history. Advances in geochemistry are now allowing scientists to decipher the isotopic signals that keep the memory of older rocks. 

To go back in time and better understand the early history of our planet, Dr Tessalina and her colleagues looked at the North Pole Dome site of the Pilbara Craton which contains some of the oldest terrestrial rocks and fossils. The remnants found there provided the vital clues indicating some geochemical fingerprints of ancient lithosphere.

Dr Tessalina and her colleagues collected samples including volcanic, sedimentary and hydrothermal rocks from the area – both drilled and from outcrops. The rocks and sediments were then analysed for their isotopic composition. The results showed that the analysed rocks are 3.49 billion years old as was previously thought. However, they were contaminated by much older crustal component during their formation. 

Based on their findings, Tessalina and her colleagues believe that the evolution of the Pilbara began much earlier than recorded by their physical rocks record alone.

Dr Tessalina says the findings provide further evidence that the crust on Earth started to form between 4.3 and 4.5 billion years ago. This crust may represent a part of the early “skin” covering what is widely considered to have been a magma-ocean early Earth. The preservation of geochemical relics of this ancient period of Earth history may help unravel part of the early history of our planet.



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New Luminescence Lab shines light on the past at Macquarie Mon, 12 Apr 2010 01:33:10 +0000

After two years of planning and preparation, a state-of-the-art environmental science laboratory was recently opened at Macquarie University. 

The first of its kind in Sydney, the Luminescence Lab will support research on climate change, natural hazards, coastal and river management and human-environment interactions. 

Luminescence is a dating technique that measures light sensitive signal that builds up in buried sediments and is proportional to time since burial. It can be used to measure when sediments and archaeological artefacts were either last heated (thermoluminescence – TL) or exposed to sunlight (optically-stimulated luminescence – OSL).

Macquarie scientist Dr Kira Westaway was the driving force behind the establishment of the new laboratory and is best known for her work on Homo floresiensis or ‘the hobbit’, the small pre-human skeleton found recently in Liang Bua, Indonesia. Dr Westaway established the new laboratory to process these and other archaeologically-relevant samples from Southeast Asia and will be one of the many scientists making use of the new facility.

“This work will further improve our understanding of how our early ancestors lived and died,” she says. “The question of time is central to disciplines understanding environments and fauna, including humans. Luminescence dating is the most versatile dating technique for establishing numeric ages in environmental and human history over the last 200,000 years.”

Associate Professor Ian Goodwin from the Discipline of Environmental Science says the benefits of the new laboratory are immense. “We have moved through the decades without good chronology  – we’ve been in the realm of geo-fiction, not being able to extend on loose concepts. Now with the new lab we’re in a position to really test ideas and understand the depth of temporal position processes,” he says.  

The opening of the lab will also allow for considerable savings on costly commercial lab analysis for Macquarie researchers. Parliamentary Member Karyn Paluzzano attended the opening to officially cut the ribbon and commended the implications the lab will have on climate change research. 

“For society to make sound decisions about protecting our coastlines from climate change, we need to be able to identify what are the natural processes, as opposed to what we’ve affected in the last 200 years. OSL is instrumental in sorting this out – particularly in single grain dating.”

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Practical steps towards sustainability for Chinese student Thu, 25 Mar 2010 05:49:24 +0000

“The more I learn about the environment, the more I am willing to implement practical, sustainable solutions,” says Macquarie University Master of Environmental Studies student Jieru Li from China.

“My passion for the environment has only increased since I have been studying my postgraduate program. We are living in a world of limited resources. The environment is slowly being compromised for our advancement without much thought. Activities such as strip mining to extract ores and minerals and deforestation to cut trees for paper and timber means that we are changing our environment at a rate faster than mother nature has intended.”

To counter this, Jieru is an enthusiastic participant in sustainability projects across campus, such as the Bushcare project.

“Joining the Bushcare group is one solution I can take immediately.

“Even if you don’t have time to participate in programs like Bushcare, learning more about the environment and sustainability is also one way Macquarie students can get involved on campus.

“To be environmentally friendly or to act sustainably is what we can do at a personal level, such as reducing our carbon footprint or ecological footprint. Sustainable development means we only do the things that will keep our world going without diminishing the environment, economy, culture and society.”.

After two and a half years of study, Jieru is looking forward to working in a green industry.

“I hope to work in an environmentally-focussed career after my studies, as a Bushcare Officer or an environmental consultant for example.”

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Delivering the Climate Report Thu, 25 Mar 2010 05:45:57 +0000

Three of Macquarie’s most committed climate change activists, including 2007 Australian of the Year Tim Flannery, recently came together to present personal accounts and reflections of the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 (COP15) held in Copenhagen in December last year.

The Climate Report, held in the Campus Hub building, presented the varied perspectives of Flannery, Chairman of Copenhagen Climate Council, Macquarie student Nick Mueller who was an Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) delegate and Tim Hendry, current Honours student and member of the Green Institute. The three speakers each attended the Conference in their different capacities and spoke of the impact of COP15.

“Prior to the main event in Copenhagen, 80 heads of government met at a mini-summit – that’s almost half the world leaders. So the high point of engagement occurred in September. At that point we still thought things were on line for a wide-scale agreement of political dimension,” says Tim Flannery. “When the heads of state began arriving in Copenhagen, the situation got chaotic. It became very difficult to move forward,” says Flannery.

Nick Mueller says the chaos and indecision of the Conference only served to strengthen the Youth movement. “After Obama’s speech it became resoundingly clear we wouldn’t get the deal we were aiming for, and it galvanised the youth of the world,” says Nick. The AYCC then set about producing a video that circulated the globe.

“I want to mention the importance of voice,” says Mueller. “People are trying to get the message out. Copenhagen is the best example of the community sector having direct influence on negotiations. What we achieved at Copenhagen was a step towards people having a voice at the highest, most important level.”

Despite many sceptics touting COP15 and the subsequent Copenhagen Accord as a failure, Flannery says this is the wrong assumption. “Those who portrayed the Accord as a failure have a political agenda to label it that way – it’s not a fair assessment. The Accord doesn’t detail a lot but countries are starting to agree. The COP15 marks a turning point where the old process is no longer the process used going forward.”

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High hopes for rice research to ease global shortage Thu, 11 Mar 2010 02:29:38 +0000

With rice production in Australia plummeting, global demand burgeoning and extreme weather events becoming more frequent, researchers at Macquarie University are working towards developing simple tests that could help growers better assess the health of their plants and more easily predict crop yields.

Biomolecular chemist Associate Professor Paul Haynes and plant biologist Associate Professor Brian Atwell are collaborating on the project, and say analysing the proteins found in the leaves of rice plants and how they respond to extreme temperatures may hold the key to predicting a plant’s success early on in the crop cycle.

“The problem we have in Australia is that in the past the Australian rice industry has grown some of the highest yielding plants in the world, but in the last 10 years climatic extremes and water shortages have drastically reduced production,” Associate Professor Haynes says.

“Exposure to cold temperatures even in short bursts can render a rice plant sterile, which greatly reduces the yield of seed. The tricky thing about that though is that often a sterile plant will still look healthy and normal – it’s not until it comes time for the harvest that a grower discovers he has a much lower yield than expected.”

Haynes and his team began by exposing cultured rice plant cells to temperature shocks ranging from 12 to 44 degrees celsius. They then looked at the proteins inside the cell and how they changed as a result of that exposure.

“Rice is notoriously sensitive to the cold, but our hope is that in the future we may get to the stage where we can select rice varieties for the presence or absence of a specific protein or group of proteins, and use this to develop rice plants which are cold resistant.”

Haynes hopes the research may go some way to addressing the rice shortage globally.

“We’re facing a big shortage in the future, so we don’t just have to keep up with rice production, we have to improve it a lot,” he said. “And that’s what’s scary about it, because at the moment we are not keeping up.”

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The challenges and benefits of study in Australia Fri, 05 Mar 2010 05:33:20 +0000

Studying in another country can present incredible opportunities as well as substantial challenges. Vietnamese postgraduate student Huy Phuong Lam discusses the cultural differences and benefits of studying in Australia. 

 “What I have experienced at Macquarie University is beyond all my expectations in a positive way,” says the Master of Commerce in Marketing student.

 “During my time at Macquarie I’ve experienced not only a good learning environment with strong support from Macquarie’s lecturers and staff, but also an interactive and supportive work environment.

 “By applying different methods of teaching, my lecturers have really made their classes interesting for us. I’ve had the chance to discuss topics with famous Aussie marketers during our guest speaker sessions and I’ve learned new marketing concepts from them. These kinds of experiences mean class is not just a class anymore; it’s a real meeting for marketers to discuss current issues in the marketing field.”

 In addition to the academic opportunities Macquarie offers, Huy Phuong has also made the most of extra-curricular activities such as the Global Leadership Program. “In the GLP I’ve had the chance to actively discuss and get feedback from other experienced students on themes such as ‘Microfinance: Indebting Poor People or Alleviating Poverty?’, International Humanitarian Law and International Business Negotiations.”

 Beginning university in Australia did present some unique cultural differences for Huy Phuong. “In Vietnam we have a totally different style of learning. In my country, people do not really like to talk in class, we prefer to stay silent and listen during the lecture rather than actively participate. At Macquarie, we have a class discussion on what the lecturer is saying immediately, though this could be considered impolite in my country.”

 “Because of this, many Vietnamese students are shocked when they first start learning here. However, Macquarie’s tutors were really enthusiastic in helping us to overcome these difficulties.”

 “Macquarie has been a good place for me to expand my knowledge and apply what I have learn to understand international trends and solve global issues. It’ really helped me build on my professional skills and graduate competencies,” says Huy Phuong

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Macquarie research calls for better disaster preparation Thu, 04 Mar 2010 02:04:28 +0000

In the wake of the Haitian earthquake, and in light of the escalating frequency and intensity of large-scale natural disasters, the recent work of two Macquarie researchers has become more pertinent than ever.

Dr Frank Thomalla, senior lecturer in Human Geography and PhD student Emma Calgaro from Macquarie University’s Department of Environment and Geography have been part of an international project that has examined the success of recovery efforts and resilience-building in communities affected by the 2004 Asian tsunami. The project, funded by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), was a collaboration between Macquarie University and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI).

As a result of their research, Dr Thomalla and Emma say there is a clear need to shift the focus of and approach to recovery and disaster preparedness. This shift should move to include a better understanding of communities’ social vulnerabilities and capacities.

After the tsunami swept through 11 countries, leaving a trail of destruction and 230,000 dead, more than US$7 billion in humanitarian aid was donated to support the relief and recovery processes. The funds also put in place initiatives that would help rebuild communities, strengthen disaster preparedness and establish early warning systems.

The aim of this research project was to examine how successful efforts have been by governments, aid and humanitarian organisations in not only physically rebuilding, but in enhancing long-term capacity and resilience in affected communities by improving early warning systems and disaster preparedness.

One conclusion drawn from the research is the need to shift donor mandates and subsequent distribution from servicing the perceived needs of those that are traditionally labelled as ‘vulnerable’ to assessing real needs based on evidence.

A further finding relates to the development and effectiveness of early warning systems. Dr Thomalla noted that the majority of research on such systems was focussed on technology, though little attention had been paid to the human aspects of early warning systems.

“So much depends on people’s previous experience and perceptions of hazards. The region is diverse and situations vary from place to place. To be effective and sustainable, approaches have to radically change,” says Dr Thomalla.

“We need to depart from the current scientifically motivated, expert driven and hence, highly prescriptive approach to one in which the end-users of early warning systems shape the design of the system according to their priorities and needs.”


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