In February 2022, floods devastated large parts of South East Queensland, impacting homes, business and livelihoods.
It was this event, and the growing prevalence of natural disasters in Australia, that provided the inspiration for students from Billy Blue College of Design at Torrens University to create a product that could assist people in being prepared when disaster strikes.
“Research from the WHO (2022) tells us that between 1998-2017, more than 2 billion people worldwide have been affected by floods. The most recent floods in South East Queensland hit just 11 years since the devastating 2011 flood emergency,” said Nina Starkey, Learning Facilitator and Subject Coordinator at Billy Blue College of Design at Torrens University.
“The students wanted to come up with an end product that could be turned into a tangible, helpful item that somehow could assist those under duress and stress, facing floods or other natural disasters.”
Problem based learning test collaboration and creativity
Selena, Mackenzie, Chelsea, and Lauren decided to develop the ‘flood disaster kit’ as part of their Problem Based Learning subject, which is a core subject across multiple design courses at Torrens University. The subject requires students to work collaboratively to identify, research and define a problem and develop a workable, real-world solution.
“The students worked through the process of developing, testing and adapting a prototype to ensure that their final design was well thought out, not only regarding its content but also for it to be a practical, ergonomic, sustainable triple functional design,” said Nina.
“The formation and promotion of our flood disaster kit stemming from PBL202 has been an amazing opportunity from day one. I have gained plentiful insights into such an important issue and seeing this go beyond the walls of the university has made me and my team incredibly proud,” said Lauren.
In September, the students had the opportunity to present their idea at the Disaster Management Research Forum 2022 and directly to the Queensland Reconstruction Authority.
“Getting to present our flood disaster kit to not only our lectures, but to the CEO and the 'Get Ready Queensland' team with the QLD Government was an incredible experience. Our team has come up with a very important prototype that could help thousands of people and it needs to be recognized and seen. We have achieved excellent work as a team and I look forward to our future with this product moving forward,” shared Chelsea.
“We are all so humbled by the support and grateful for the opportunities to attend the IGEM Disaster Management Forum, the recent Social Enterprise Youth Forum and to present to the QRA team. I am so proud and excited to see the development of our concept and cannot wait to see where the collaborations lead,” said Selena.
Funding sought to get kits into Queensland homes
Nina said the students are now working on sourcing funding to produce their flood disaster kit.
“The students have displayed an incredible level of professionalism throughout this project – from their interaction with stakeholders, to the attention to detail that went into preparing their presentation and promotional material and the way they represented Torrens University at the conference and in front of Queensland Government officials, we are extremely proud of them,” said Nina.
“Now the students are reaching out to a number of organisations to seek funding for their kit and we can’t wait to see it in production and into people’s homes.”
With Australia set to face another wet summer, the development of the kit couldn’t be timelier.
“Designing a solution to flooding disasters is something I’m so proud to have achieved with our innovative team. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to present the idea to the government and I hope that at the least there is more awareness around how to better provide safety to our communities.”