This chapter defines and raises awareness of disaster fatigue at the community level within the context of complex disasters. When enduring a series of disastrous events, a community must grapple with preparing for the next disaster before sufficiently recovering from the previous. In addition, a series of disaster events may vary significantly in nature and therefore require quite different responses from the community. Given the cumulative and prolonged disaster exposure experienced in Australia between late 2019 and late 2021, where years of regional drought, Black Summer bushfires, and then various flooding events, had impacted communities in the lead-up to the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects on community preparedness for, and recovery from, a complex disaster situation deserves concentrated attention. There is a need to move beyond the understanding of individuals experiencing compassion fatigue or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to formally define disaster fatigue as it manifests within a community or region at the macro rather than individual level. In this chapter, we define community disaster fatigue and establish what evidences disaster fatigue on a collective level. Failure to plan for the community's long-term benefit in terms of health, economic and social needs due to living in a seemingly unrelenting and unresolved state of complex disasters is a less than desirable ‘new normal’. Community disaster fatigue has the potential to slow down or prevent changes in health, economic and societal practices that are optimal and necessary for moving forward out of a debilitating series of crisis events. This chapter proposes community disaster fatigue as a way to conceptualise the effects of a complex disaster situation on the community as a whole as viewed through the lenses of (i) defeatism, deterioration, and lack of planning (ii) weakening mental health and wellbeing, and (iii) corrosion of economic entrepreneurialism and decline in social capital.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComplex disasters
Subtitle of host publicationCompounding, cascading, and protracted
EditorsAnna Lukasiewicz, Tayanah O'Donnell
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9789811924286
ISBN (Print)9789811924279
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameDisaster Risk, Resilience, Reconstruction and Recovery
ISSN (Print)2662-5660
ISSN (Electronic)2662-5679


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