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You are here:   New College Village »  Unsw Student Accommodation »  Ncv Researchers »  Charishma Ratnam From Sydney, Nsw – Bachelor...

NCV Researchers

Charishma Ratnam’s thesis is “Does place attachment to the home influence perceptions of bushfire risk in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales?” Charishma has lived at NCV since the beginning of 2015

Charishma Ratnam from Sydney, NSW – Bachelor of Environmental Science/Bachelor of Arts


Supervisor: Dr Danielle Drozdzewski, UNSW

Co-Supervisor: Dr Rosalie Chapple, BMWHI

Summary of my research: My Honours Research project investigates whether there is a link between the concept of the home, attachment to it, and how these are tempered by environmental risks. My analysis draws from qualitative data gathered from a visual method called ‘Photovoice’ and in-depth interviews to examine how attachments to places are formed. The Blue Mountains, where this project is focused, is a bushfire prone area located approximately 100 kilometres west of Sydney.
My project is concerned with developing a better understanding of how the concepts of the home and sense of place to it, through place attachment, have the tendency to cloud the perception of risk to bushfire hazard. Increasing occurrence of bushfires on the urban fringe of major cities in both New South Wales and Victoria – in those locations popular with lifestyle migration – beckons the currently unanswered question of how attachment to place and the home mediate the associated risk of bushfires.
The aims of my Honours Research project are:

  1. To understand how participants construct an attachment to their home;
  2. To explore how bushfire risk is considered within residents ideas of place to the home and natural surroundings in the Blue Mountains;
  3. To investigate how residents’ place-based attachment to the home influences their understanding of bush risk.

My methodology involves two parts – the first part involves participants walking through and talking about places that they define as their home. This could be their house, street, backyard or a similarly meaningful place. Participants take photographs that are most symbolic then select up to five photographs for the second part of the methodology. Part two comprises a discussion of the photographs taken coupled with their experiences of attachments to home and of bushfire risk.
This project’s significance lies in better understanding how people’s attachments to their home influence their perceptions of risk. This information is important for informing community engagement by agencies including the New South Wales Rural Fire Service so that fire risk assessments can be more effectively targeted. My project will engage with and contribute to the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute’s (BMWHI) social research on the communication of risk and public engagement by local agencies.


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