School of Population Health

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Injury Prevention and Disaster Management

Injury prevention and disaster management is a key theme of the school’s public health research and teaching portfolios.

Drawing on diverse expertise as practitioners, advocates, researchers and teachers, we use a range of methodologies including epidemiology and biostatistics, qualitative research and mathematical modelling to explore sub-populations including:

  • Children and adolescents, and the elderly
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
  • Migrants, refugees and culturally and linguistically diverse residents
  • Those at increased risk due to social disadvantage and geographical isolation
  • Populations impacted by disasters and bioterrorism
  • Workers suffering from occupational Injuries, particularly in high risk workplace/task settings
  • Military and first responders in high risk contexts
  • Populations interacting with Emergency and First Response Systems
  • Individuals conducting deployments and expeditions in austere settings
  • Populations experiencing environmental impacts as sequelae to disasters
  • People impacted during times of flood, including those who drive into floodwaters

Our collaborative approach sees us working both domestically and internationally:

  • In collaboration with domestic institutions including The George Institute, Griffith University, James Cook University, Royal Life Saving Society – Australia, the Torrens Institute for Disaster Resilience, and Risk Frontiers, Local Health Districts, the Australian Defence Force, US Indopacific Command, US Army Regional Health Command, Australian Defence Science and Technology Group, and the Health Emergency Management Unit at NSW Health.
  • Internationally with regional partners including the World Health Organization (WHO) in the South and Western Pacific
  • With professional credentialing organisations such as Major Incident Medical Management System (MIMMS), EmergoTrain System (ETS) and Advanced HAZMAT Life Support (AHLS) systems.



Associate Professor David Heslop
Associate Professor School of Population Health

A/Professor Heslop is a Primary Care clinical and Occupational and Environmental Medicine practitioner with research interests in resilient health care systems, particularly in the fields of health protection, emergency health response, and high risk/austere health care environments. His research focuses on using computational modelling and simulation to answer clinical systems questions in high risk/novel clinical environments.


image - David Heslop


Dr Amy Peden
Injury Prevention Research & Lecturer in Injury Prevention School of Population Health

Dr Amy Peden is an injury prevention researcher and lecturer in Injury Prevention within the School. Her research focuses on drowning prevention, with a focus on regional and remote communities, rivers, alcohol and social determinants of health. Prior to commencing with UNSW she worked in the NGO sector as national manager of research and policy with Royal Life Saving Society - Australia. She has published widely on the topic of drowning prevention and holds a position on the Australasian Injury Prevention Network Executive.


image - Amy Peden


Professor Rebecca Ivers
Head of School, NHMRC Senior Research Fellow

Rebecca Ivers leads a global research program focusing on the prevention and management of injury. Trained as an epidemiologist, her research interests focus on the prevention of injury, trauma care, and the research to policy transfer in both high and low income countries. She has a substantial program of research addressing the global burden of injury, with a particular focus on inequalities in injury in low income settings, and the prevention of injury in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


image - Rebecca Ivers


Preventing and managing falls across the life course

Falls are a growing and under-recognised public health issue. Every year more than 684,000 people die as a result of a fall, and 172 million more are left with short- or long-term disability. The vast majority of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. A team from the School of Population Health and the WHO Collaborating Centre for Injury Prevention and Trauma Care at the George Institute for Global Health was commissioned to produce an evidence synthesis on fall prevention across the life course. This formed the background to the WHO release Step Safely: Strategies for preventing and managing falls across the life course.

See Project Details and Report


Chimaera Evolution

Risks from high risk, high consequence events such has Chemical, Biological and Radiological events have been increasing due to many factors. In this project novel modeling and simulation approaches are being utilised to develop an experiment by simulation to allow exploration of planning, preparedness, response and policy questions during high risk and high consequence crisis, disaster and emergencies. The focus of this research is on Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear events, areas in which there is limited real-world experience and limited opportunities to collect data. Supported by funding from Defence Science and Technology Group this research introduces new conceptual and practical approaches to exploring risks to individuals and populations potentially impacted by these events.


Drowning Prevention

In collaboration with researchers at James Cook University, Griffith University and the University of Queensland, a body of work exploring drowning in Australia and its prevention has been developed and research is ongoing. Recent topics of research include the behavioural psychology behind driving into floodwaters, river drowning risk and its prevention and the impact of flood-related drowning on children and adolescents. Findings have been implemented into practice through partnerships with organisations including Royal Life Saving Society – Australia, State Emergency Services (SES) around the country, the Australian Water Safety Council, and the Australian New Zealand Safe Boating Education Group (ANZSBEG) among others.


The Impact of Rurality on Injury Risk

In partnership with researchers at James Cook University, the impact of geographical remoteness on deaths due to injuries in Australia is currently being explored. Utilising Australian Bureau of Statistics data on causes of death this longitudinal research explores variations in fatal injury related risk by rurality to inform prevention efforts.

The School of Population Health has multidisciplinary expertise in epidemiology, policy change, mathematical modelling, data linkage, risk management, crisis planning and advocacy. In all courses, our academics integrate their research and current domestic and global challenges in the form of case studies, to enrich the student’s learning experience.

Injury Prevention and Disaster Management teaching is represented through courses in:

  • Master of Public Health (MPH), Public Health Security specialisation
  • Master of Global Health (MGH)
  • Master of Health Leadership and Management
  • Internships
  • Higher Research Degree programs (DrPH, PhD, and so on)

The Masters of Public Health and International Public Health are widely recognised as essential for a career in population health, including health promotion, primary health care, policy formulation, research, and management of health programs. Many of our graduates occupy key positions in health departments, non-government organisations and universities in Australia and internationally.

At a course level, we have a range of options with an injury prevention and disaster management focus including:

  • Injury Epidemiology, Prevention and Control
  • Bioterrorism & Health Intelligence
  • Health Aspects of Crises, Emergencies and Disasters
  • Epidemiology and Statistics for Public Health
  • Health Promotion and Social Perspectives of Health
  • Foundations in Public Health and Healthcare Systems
  • PLuS alliance electives in Homeland Security, Disaster Preparedness, and Public Policy

Students can also undertake a small-scale research project focused on injury prevention and disaster management. Opportunities for research include:

  • Epidemiology of flood and disaster-related drowning
  • Disaster preparedness and resilience
  • Disaster response
  • Behavioural psychology
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander injury
  • Injury in rural and remote settings
  • Social determinants and their impact on risk
  • Tsunami
  • Bushfire
  • Terrorism and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear concerns
  • Bio-terrorism, Biosecurity and Bio-preparedness
  • Hazardous Materials and Toxicology
  • Occupational and Environmental Medicine
  • Modeling and Simulation approaches to Disaster Research

Through our domestic and international partnerships there is also opportunity for students to do research in the field.