Date of Award

2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Sciences

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr David Jonathan Brooks

Abstract

Terrorism is not a new concept as terrorist individuals and organisations since time immemorial have used the threat of violence or actual violence to generate fear in individuals, organisations and governments alike. Fear is a powerful weapon and it is used in order to gain political, ideological or religious objectives. The attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon on the 11th September 2001 (9/11) highlighted the dangers of the inadequate intelligence, border security and immigration practices that led to this event. The attacks were a security wake up call not only for the United States of America but for the entire world. The 9/11 attacks and other more recent terrorist attacks such as the Bali (12th October 2002 & 1st October 2005), Madrid (11th March 2004) and London (7th July 2005) bombings have sent security shockwaves around the world, as governments scramble to ensure that their own anti-terrorism security strategies are adequate to meet this new threat. The Federal Australian government undertook a range of security reviews and participated in a number of regional forums, bilateral pacts and international counter terrorism aid partnerships. Domestically, Australia also enhanced its capacity to respond to a possible terrorism event through multiple security enhancements across key areas including border security, defence and intelligence based agencies. In partnership with these new security initiatives a national public counter terrorism campaign was implemented in December 2002. Due to the unprecedented nature of these terrorist events, there has been little specific research into how terrorist events have impacted on the Australian public or how the public's social psychometric risk perception of terrorism contrasts with other known risks. This study's purpose was to address this shortfall in knowledge, by examining key social and security changes in Australian society post 9/11. The study used a number of primary and secondary data sources, a literature review and a research survey to address the study's research questions. The research survey was based on a Likert scale devised to measure the public's psychometric risk perceptions of terrorism. This research compared terrorism to other similar risks and found it ranked second highest in terms of dread risk and midrange in terms of familiarity risk. The study recommended changes to current first response management practices and reinforced that there was an ongoing need for research into public risk perception and public awareness safety campaigns. It is only through an understanding of the public's reactions to risk that policy and decision-makers can promote and implement effective health, safety and security reforms that will be of benefit to both industry and the general community alike.

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