Jackie Bubb

Jackie Bubb

Disaster Response Manager, New Zealand Red Cross
Master of Philosophy student

The people are what she loves most about her career in disaster risk management and development, says Jackie Bubb who is the disaster response manager for the New Zealand Red Cross and is currently completing a Master of Philosophy at AUT.

“I have the pleasure of co-ordinating more than twenty disaster welfare and support teams across the country, from Whangarei to Invercargill. We have over 400 volunteers trained to provide community-level support during disasters, and we connect with civil defence and emergency management groups and other stakeholders to provide welfare support during emergencies. In the last 12 months the volunteers have recorded nearly 50,000 hours of training and volunteer work.

“The volunteers are all incredible – we have teachers, farmers, business owners, engineers, shopkeepers, healthcare workers, students, retirees, mums, dads, grandparents and many more. They are a diverse group of people that have come together by their interest in supporting their communities. It’s a privilege to work with them and I’m in awe of the service they provide to their communities.”

Jackie and her team have responded to a wide range of disasters and emergency situations, including the Whakaari volcano eruption, Southland floods, Auckland droughts and several rural fires. They have also provided various essential services during COVID-19, and prepared for future emergencies.

Research on the ground in Vanuatu
Having worked in disaster response for a number of years, Jackie decided to take on postgraduate study to further her own understanding of the sector. She expects to complete her Master of Philosophy at the end of the year.

“Undertaking a research thesis was a chance to develop my own understanding in the sector. I had previously connected with AUT through my work at Auckland Emergency Management, and have worked with Dr Loïc Le Dé on other projects. I felt the opportunity to have him as my supervisor for my research was a privilege, and I appreciated having the opportunity to connect my practice with academia.”

For her Master of Philosophy, Jackie investigated Vanuatu’s approach to disaster risk reduction and emergency response.

“I started my thesis when I was working in Vanuatu as a disaster risk reduction volunteer, hosted by World Vision Vanuatu. I undertook the study with my Ni-Vanuatu colleagues. It was a privilege to be able to work and study in a beautiful location, alongside incredible people. We travelled to several islands to collect research data, and in my thesis I considered the effectiveness and sustainability of the community level disaster committees in villages.

“Vanuatu is susceptible to many hazards. My thesis gave me and my colleagues the opportunity to consider how we could best prepare for such events, and how we could improve our work with communities. Based on my research, my colleagues and I made recommendations for improvements to other NGOs and the government.”

Balancing work and study
She has enjoyed being able to learn and reflect on improving her work through her studies, Jackie says.

“The degree has given me the opportunity to document, showcase and explore some of the work I’m passionate about. The journey to complete my thesis has given me opportunity to critique my own practice and apply my learnings to my work moving forward. I think it’s important that practitioners and future practitioners can use their learning and critique their own practice to make informed improvements to the sector.”

Balancing her study around her work has had some challenges, she admits.

“Through my work I’ve been involved in various emergencies which keep me busy, including response work associated with cyclones, volcanoes, COVID-19, flooding and drought. This sometimes made it hard to find the time and headspace to then turn around and work on my thesis.

“While I was based in Vanuatu, I also often had unreliable and slow internet access and once I got stuck on a remote island because of a cyclone. Fortunately, my supervisor and the team at AUT went above and beyond to support me while I was studying remotely and working through various disaster responses.”

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