Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Psychology


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Moira O'Connor

Second Advisor

Dr Lynne Cohen


Disasters are defined as a 'crisis event in which the demands being placed on a human system, by the event, exceed the systems capacity to respond' (Bolin, 1989, p. 62). In the literature the negative consequences of disasters are focused at the individual level and fail to take into account the context In which Individuals live and where the disaster occurred. Few studies utilize residents within a disaster community to define the factors that are relevant to their disaster experience especially in Australian settings. This present studies view of disasters places the individual within an ecological system to understand their disaster experience and the disaster experience of the community. In viewing the disaster xperience the present study seeks to Identify the stress and growth outcomes as a more holistic account of the disaster experience. The present study utilizes residents from a Western Australian disaster community to identify the salient factors related to the disaster experience. The research questions addressed by the current study are (1) What factors are Important in understanding the experience of community members living with the threat of natural seasonal disasters in Western Australia? (2) What is the relationship between the community, individual and disaster experience variables in different communities in Western Australia? (3) What is the best predictor of posttraumatic stress? (4) What is the best predictor of posttraumatic growth? (5) What variables differentiate high and low stress groups? (6) What variables differentiate high and low growth groups? (7) What are the community and individual factors that mediate the disaster experience in communities in Western Australia? Specifically a) which individual variables impact the posttraumatic stress and posttraumatic growth associated with disasters.

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Psychology Commons