Global Education

Teacher resources to encourage a global
perspective across the curriculum

Disaster preparedness

Year level: 5-6

Students investigate different kinds of disasters to develop an understanding of their causes, effects, and the types of assistance people and communities need to recover. They also explore how disaster preparedness can help to reduce the impact of disasters and build hope and resilience for the future.

In 2005 a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck northern Pakistan killing nearly 75,000 people and destroying homes, schools and hospitals.

In 2005 a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck northern Pakistan killing nearly 75,000 people and destroying homes, schools and hospitals. Photo by Gregory Takats for AusAID

Identity and cultural diversity, Interdependence and globalisation, Social justice and human rights, Sustainable futures

Australian Curriculum links

Learning areas


Year 5

Use comprehension strategies to analyse information, integrating and linking ideas from a variety of print and digital sources (ACELY1703) 

Year 6

Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, choosing and experimenting with text structures, language features, images and digital resources appropriate to purpose and audience (ACELY1714)


Year 5

The impact of bushfires or floods on environments and communities, and how people can respond (ACHGK030)

Year 6

Reflect on their learning to propose individual and collective action in response to a contemporary geographical challenge and describe the expected effects of their proposal on different groups of people (ACHGS046)


Year 6

Sudden geological changes or extreme weather conditions can affect Earth’s surface (ACSSU096)

General capabilities

  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Information and communication technology capability
  • Intercultural understanding
  • Literacy
  • Sustainability

Cross-curriculum priorities

  • Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia
  • Sustainability

Activity 1: When disaster strikes

Students begin to understand the range of disasters and their effects on people and the environment.

Brainstorm a list of disasters. As a class, share what you know about these events.

Mime one of the disasters so that others can identify which it is.

Examine and discuss the photographs in the Disasters Global issue. Small groups could each focus on one photo, then present the image and their ideas to the whole group and lead a class discussion.

  • What kind of disaster caused the damage shown?
  • What does the photo make you think about regarding the impact of disasters on people and the environment?
  • What kinds of help might people need when these disasters occur? (Think about immediate needs and help in making a long-term recovery.)

Review all the captions as a class.
Locate the places mentioned on a map.
Discuss: Do these types of disasters happen in Australia? Where in Australia?

View and discuss the video Disaster risk reduction in Laos. What does this add to your understanding of disasters and ways to help?

Create a ‘disasters’ web map or word cloud to summarise the key ideas from all your discussion so far (eg about effects, kinds of help needed). Use different colours or fonts to show links between ideas. Websites to help with creating word clouds include Wordle and Word it out.

Revisit and add to this graphic as you continue your investigation of disasters.

Activity 2: Disaster preparedness

Students develop an understanding of the preparation that can be done to limit the impact of a disaster.

Investigate the types of disaster that might occur in your community.

  • What are they?
  • How do they affect people, the environment and the economy?
  • Who might help in the event of a disaster?
  • What can you do to prepare for a disaster?

List the things that you, teachers, medical personnel, the fire brigade and the media could do to prepare for the possibility of a fire at your school.

Read the section on fires in your school's disaster plan. How does it differ from what you have listed?

Prepare a survival kit of things you might take if you had to leave your classroom or house in a hurry because of fire or some other disaster.

Assist your teachers to organise a fire drill. Note what happens during the drill and discuss how effective this would be if there really were a fire.
List some ways of improving the response.


  • What can you do to prepare for a disaster?
  • How do you think preparing for a disaster such as a fire can help if a disaster occurs?
  • How might people in a developing country prepare for a similar disaster?
  • Why might there be differences?

Design a poster about preparing for a fire. Use only a few words so that those who are unable to read would know what to do.


The Bushfire Education website provides teaching and learning activities covering the themes of Learning about bushfires, Preparing for bushfires, Responding to bushfires and Recovering from bushfires.

These Case studies also provide insights into disaster preparedness and responses Drought in Tuvalu and The winds of change (typhoon in the Philippines)

Activity 3: Earthquake preparedness

Students examine the effectiveness of emergency preparedness in saving lives in Indonesia’s earthquake-prone Nias and Mentawai islands.

Locate the Nias and Mentawai islands west of Sumatra. Find out how far they are from Sumatra. Use travel information websites to research how long it would take for you to travel to Nias and the Mentawai islands from your home.


  • Why might the people in these islands be isolated?
  • What would isolation mean for these people’s daily lives?
  • What would isolation mean for these people if they faced an emergency such as an earthquake?

Read the background section of the Case study Saving lives with disaster preparedness.
Compare this information with ideas from your discussion.

Use photos from the web page, together with information in the above case study, to answer the following questions:

  • How do people live on these islands?
  • Why are the islands vulnerable to earthquakes?
  • Why are the islands well known by people in Australian and New Zealand?

Use the Earthquake Hazards Program website to find out more about earthquakes on Nias and the Mentawai islands.

List the key features of the E-Prep program described in the Case study Saving lives with disaster preparedness.


  • How did the 2007 earthquake impact on people and buildings on the Mentawai islands?
  • How did the E-Prep program assist in reducing the impact?
  • How and why has the program had effects that will help the people of the islands in the future?

Identify the similarities and differences between disasters preparation in your local community compared to the Mentawai islanders (Hint: Consider evacuation drills, training of emergency service personnel, resources.)

Create and present a role-play about the E-Prep program. This could be an imagined interview with someone directly involved in the program that includes comments quoted in the case study.

Activity 4: Researching disasters and risk reduction

Students deepen their understanding of the causes and consequences of disasters, and investigate Australia’s work to reduce the risks faced by vulnerable communities.

Brainstorm a list of disasters or review and add to your list from Activity 1.

Try classifying the disasters in different ways (eg cause, speed, impact, recovery time).

Select one type of disaster to investigate in small groups. Use knowledge you have gained through earlier activities and research additional information.

  • What causes this type of disaster?
  • Where does this kind of disaster occur?
  • How much warning is there?
  • How could people prepare for this type of disaster?
  • What sort of damage does it do to people and the environment?
  • List the ways different people could be affected – eg school child, subsistence farmer, day labourer, transport worker, large business operator. Who would be most affected?
  • What support might affected people need in order to rebuild their lives?
  • Why might people live in an area affected by this type of disaster?

Present your information in an interesting format (eg photo report, interview, dramatisation) to the class.

As a class, review and reflect on what you have learnt about disasters. Write some statements about what can be done to reduce the risk and impact of disasters.

Share what you have learnt about disasters with other classes and the broader school community. For example, you could prepare an article for the school newsletter, a speech, a play or a web-based presentation. Relate what you have learnt to a current or recent disaster. You could organise a fundraiser as part of this project.

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In 2005 a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck northern Pakistan killing nearly 75,000 people and destroying homes, schools and hospitals.
Photo by Gregory Takats for AusAID
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In 2005 a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck northern Pakistan killing nearly 75,000 people and destroying homes, schools and hospitals. Photo by Gregory Takats for AusAID