14 October 2013

While most Queenslanders are all too aware of the impact natural disasters can have on their lives and the community, new research being carried out at The University of Queensland’s School of Social Science aims to investigate the specific impact on people from linguistically diverse backgrounds.

UQ Sociology PhD Candidate Martina Baumer said cultural and linguistic differences may make it difficult for newcomers from diverse, ethnic or non-English speaking backgrounds to understand what is going on around them in everyday situations.

“This becomes intensified in times of disaster – where to find information, how to deal with the situation, and where to get help,” Ms Baumer said.

Ms Baumer is seeking participants for the research to discuss their experiences of the 2011 floods that wreaked havoc across Brisbane.

Her study will contribute to The Australian Community Capacity Study (ACCS), a longitudinal study of community processes funded by the Australian Research Council.

“I am interested to hear the stories from people from culturally and linguistically diverse, ethnic or non-English Speaking Backgrounds who arrived less than five years before the floods, or those who come from a refugee background, who were impacted by the floods, or have helped others during or after, and how this has influenced their lives,” Ms Baumer said.

“The aim of my research is to capture the stories of these people showing their strengths and the challenges they face, and the contribution they make in our society before, during and after disaster.”

The research will focus not only on the challenges that disaster brings, but also the positive impacts that can arise from it.

“The floods also brought out the best in people – a new form of solidarity amongst people, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse, ethnic or non-English speaking backgrounds were at the forefront of helping others in need during and after the floods,” Ms Baumer said.

The primary goal of the ACCS project is to better understand how changes in a community's social disadvantage, ethnic diversity and residential mobility impact upon the development of social networks over time.

Ms Baumer is seeking anyone that fits the above criteria and is willing to share their experiences to contact her.

All participants in the research will go in a draw to win one of three $100 petrol vouchers.

For more information on the Australian Community Capacity Studies project please visit www.uq.edu.au/accs/.

Media Contact: Martina Baumer (PhD Candidate), (E) uqmbaume@uq.edu.au, (T) 0497 089 414.

(Project Supervisors) Associate Professor Lynda Cheshire (T) 07 3365 2383, (E) l.cheshire@uq.edu.au, Dr Peter Walters (T) 07 3365 2759, (E) p.walters@uq.edu.au, Dr Rebecca Wickes (T) 07 3365 2204 (E) r.wickes@uq.edu.au