Volunteering for disaster: How occupational therapy students used occupation to remain resilient during and after the ‘Black Summer’ bushfires in Port Macquarie, Australia

Hannah Lewis (Presenter), Karen Hayes

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Introduction/Rationale: As climate change progresses, natural disasters are becoming more common and increasingly impacting population centres, particularly in regional and rural areas. As more natural disaster occur, occupational therapists and their communities will require strategies for resilience and recovery.
Objectives: To reflect on the resilience we gained by adopting a new roles and occupations by volunteering to support the Rural Fire Service (RFS) temporarily stationed at our campus during the ‘Black Summer’ bushfires in Port Macquarie in 2019/2020.
Approach: We describe the context and experience of the bushfires which impacted our community and university for many months and the decision to volunteer to support the RFS. We reflect on how the adoption of this these new occupational roles and occupations provided purpose, social connection, and supported our resilience
Practice Implications: Volunteering played an important role in providing occupations for meaning making and social connection during a time of natural disaster in our regional and rural communities. Stepping out of our traditional roles into that of a volunteer we improved both our personal and community resilience.
Conclusion: Volunteering despite our own fear and trepidation highlighted the importance of identifying and engaging in meaningful occupation during times of natural disaster.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2022
Event18th World Federation of Occupational Therapists Congress - Hybrid - online and Paris Convention Centre, Paris, France
Duration: 28 Aug 202231 Aug 2022
https://wfotcongress2022.org/programme/full-programme (Program)


Conference18th World Federation of Occupational Therapists Congress
Abbreviated titleOccupational R-Evolution
OtherThe International Congress is held every four years and brings together occupational therapists, assistants and students from across the globe to develop professional fellowship, exchange technical and scientific information and to promote high standards of occupational therapy practice, research and education worldwide.

The 2022 congress will feature unique social events, local tours, an extensive exhibition and programme of expert presentations on the 2022 theme “Occupational R-Evolution”.
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Volunteering for disaster: How occupational therapy students used occupation to remain resilient during and after the ‘Black Summer’ bushfires in Port Macquarie, Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this