Creating resilience, mitigating disaster

University of Newcastle

Friday, 07 April, 2023

Creating resilience, mitigating disaster

From facing a global climate crisis, to navigating a global pandemic, it’s never been more important for organisations to increase their resilience in the face of disaster.

And by mitigating risks and reducing their impact, businesses around the world are realising that championing sustainable development not only saves lives (and revenue), but also helps them to achieve a competitive advantage.

Graduates of emerging postgraduate degrees like the University of Newcastle’s Master of Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Development are leading this change.

The degree equips people from diverse backgrounds to understand resilience and sustainable development principles, and systematically apply them to avoid disasters, operate through extreme events and emerge better placed to face the future.

It’s designed for those in management positions (or those aspiring to be) whose work involves resilience-building through the mitigation of impacts arising out of extreme events — which can be as varied as natural disasters, data breaches, political instability, terror attacks or health epidemics.

Maddy Lackman chose to pursue postgraduate study firstly with a Graduate Certificate of Disaster Risk Reduction and then a Masters in Disaster Resilience at the University of Newcastle. As a disaster resilience professional, Maddy feels like she has built a better understanding of disaster resilience across a range of contexts.

“The program focused on resilience rather than just response and recovery, which led to more diverse opportunities for me.

“I was also keen to work with the faculty there because they all had an interest in post-disaster recovery and reconstruction,” Maddy said.

“It changed my perspective of how resilience principles can be applied in different contexts, and career paths now seem endless," she said.

Maddy really enjoyed that the program was a mixture of practical and theoretical classes, and that her classmates all came from such diverse places.

“My classmates were incredible and came from diverse backgrounds. It was great learning from them,” she said.

She is currently employed as a disaster resilience specialist for a consulting firm in Victoria called ResilientCo.

“We support local councils and organisations to help enhance their capacity and capabilities to manage disasters.

“I help my clients understand their disaster risk and the different ways to reduce their vulnerabilities and increase their capacity,” she said.

A major drawcard of the University of Newcastle’s degree is its development in partnership with the United Nations, and its delivery through CIFAL Newcastle — a United Nations training centre with a focus on disaster resilience and sustainable development.

The result? Graduates are emerging with the best-practice knowledge and skills needed to implement the new UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai framework for Disaster Risk Reduction — and make a real and lasting impact.

“The program was directly linked to the UN and focused on international contexts,” Maddy said.

The University of Newcastle offers their Master of Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Development full-time or part-time, online or face to face. With options to undertake a Graduate Certificate, or the Master’s program, Maddy believes it’s worth the plunge.

“It will definitely strengthen your understanding of key resilience principles and give you the tools to apply them in a real-life context,” she said.

Career boom

Don’t be surprised if you start hearing the term “resilience officer” more and more. Organisations are increasingly embracing this terminology ­— and the intention behind it. Whether it’s in local government, planning and implementing strategies for town planning, urban and rural development, community safety or service continuity in times of emergency, demand is growing.

Career opportunities are increasing in the private sector too — in business continuity, environmental protection, risk management, disaster recovery planning, emergency and crisis management, and workplace health and safety functions.

To learn more about studying a Master of Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Development at the University of Newcastle, visit

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