M-Learning During Emergencies, Disasters, and Catastrophes

An Australian Story

Authored by: Julie A. Willems

Handbook of Mobile Learning

Print publication date:  April  2013
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415503693
eBook ISBN: 9780203118764
Adobe ISBN: 9781136311536


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It was Saturday 7 February 2009. The bushland in the southerly state of Victoria, Australia, was tinder-dry following an extended drought. As the day progressed, the mercury quickly reached the predicted extreme of 47° Celsius (117° Fahrenheit) – hot even by Australian-summer standards – accompanied by gale-force winds from the north west. Of the 316 grass and bushfires reported to be burning across the state that day, 15 were noted as fires of concern: fires that had either caused, or had the potential to cause, the greatest damage (Parliament of Victoria, 2010). Some of these fires were caused by natural events such as lightning strikes (Australian Broadcasting Commission, 2009), and others were considered to be brought about by human inactions or actions, such as failure to fix faults in power lines, or arson (Parliament of Victoria, 2010). This was the day that was later to become known historically as the national catastrophe, ‘Black Saturday’: a day in and around which – along with wildlife and stock losses, property damage and business and community decimation – 173 people were to lose their lives (News Limited, 2009).

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