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Implementing disaster preparedness education in New Zealand primary schools

Victoria A. Johnson (Joint Centre for Disaster Research, School of Psychology, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand)
Kevin R. Ronan (School of Human, Health and Social Sciences, CQ University Australia, Rockhampton, Australia)
David M. Johnston (Joint Centre for Disaster Research, School of Psychology, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand)
Robin Peace (School of People, Environment and Planning, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 29 July 2014



The purpose of this paper is to assess the national implementation of disaster preparedness education in New Zealand primary schools through the dissemination of What's the Plan, Stan?, a voluntary, curriculum-based teaching resource.


Results and findings from a focus group study with school teachers and local civil defence staff in 2011 and a nationally representative survey of schools in 2012 were analyzed to identify intervening, facilitating and deterrent factors of uptake and use of the resource.


The main intervening factors between resource promotion and school teachers’ awareness of the resource are word of mouth among school teachers and teachers’ proactive lesson plan research. The strongest facilitating factor was school-wide use of the resource. Lack of awareness of the resource and the perceived need for teacher training are the greatest deterrents to use of the resource.

Practical implications

Based on the findings, several recommendations are provided for increasing use of the resource including use of web-based technology for teacher training, integration of disaster preparedness messaging into other children's programs, ongoing evaluation and curriculum requirements.


An evaluation of the implementation of What's the Plan, Stan? adds to the limited body of knowledge on the benefits and challenges to distributing a voluntary teaching resource as a national strategy for curriculum integration of disaster education. The findings and lessons are relevant for nations meeting the Core Indicators of progress toward the 2005-2015 Hyogo Framework For Action.



This research was supported with funding from the sponsors of the Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellowships in Public Policy, administered by Fulbright New Zealand, and the New Zealand Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management. The opinions and views expressed in this paper are the personal views of the authors and do not represent in whole or part the opinions of Fulbright New Zealand or any New Zealand government agency.


A. Johnson, V., R. Ronan, K., M. Johnston, D. and Peace, R. (2014), "Implementing disaster preparedness education in New Zealand primary schools", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 370-380.



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