School of Geography - Theses

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    Governing Rock Fishing Risk on Australian Coasts: A qualitative study of framing, social power, and collaboration
    Davison, Mara ( 2022)
    Rock fishing is a form of recreational fishing where anglers cast lines off coastal rock forms. It is frequently described as Australia’s ‘deadliest sport’. Although 7% of Australia’s population participate in rock fishing, most rock fishing deaths are concentrated in a relatively small number of locations. Around half of these deaths involve Australian residents born overseas and from non-English speaking backgrounds. Increased efforts over recent decades by governments and community organisations to reduce rock fishing death and injury have had limited success. The qualitative study reported here aims to contribute to ongoing efforts to effectively govern risks associated with rock fishing. It does so by exploring how stakeholders in diverse government and non-government organisations frame people, define problems, allocate responsibilities, and perceive other stakeholders involved in rock fishing. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with thirty-five participants drawn from the main rock fishing states of New South Wales, Western Australia, and Victoria. Thematic and frame analysis identified: (1) how participants distinguished between people who fitted within a cultural identity of ‘rock fishers’ and other groups who rock fished; (2) clarified the ways in which different understandings of problems related to different understandings of responsibility; and (3) investigated potential for disagreement amongst different sub-groups of stakeholders, particularly between those with certified expertise and those with experiential expertise. Findings suggest that the effectiveness of current rock fishing risk governance is impaired by formal governance structures that fail to account for the contradictions between how rock fishing risks are experienced by diverse costal users and how it is governed. Insights from this study help to identify policy-relevant opportunities for improved collaboration between stakeholders who seek to govern rock fishing risk in Australia.
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    Not/ at Risk: A Case Study of Young Adult Perspectives on COVID-19 and Vaccination in Melbourne
    Klages, Theodora ( 2021-12-07)
    Given the importance of vaccination in halting the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe, research on vaccine intention and hesitancy in specific place-based contexts is vital (Butter et al. 2021; Craddock 2000; Dubé & MacDonald 2020; Piltch-Loeb et al. 2021). Within Australia, studies exploring COVID-19 vaccine intentions both before and after the development of vaccines demonstrated varying results, meriting further analysis at a cohort level (Alley et al. 2021; To et al. 2021; Davis et al. 2021; Edwards et al. 2021). However, little research has explored young adult perspectives despite their increasing importance in the vaccine rollout, increased susceptibility to the delta variant, and higher risk of adverse effects from vaccination. To address this research gap, this thesis presents a case study of young adult experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic in Melbourne – the epicentre of the pandemic in Australia - and examines primary drivers and barriers towards vaccine intention as informed by broader socio-spatial and temporal contexts. A vaccine hesitancy-specific risk culture and healthism framework informs this study, predicated on vaccine decision-making reflecting an individual’s commitment to minimising personal risk and maximising health benefits (Peretti-Watel et al. 2015). Through semi-structured interviews conducted in July of 2021, this thesis explores the attitudes and beliefs of young adults during a critical period, as the delta variant presented an emerging threat, but vaccine access was still largely age-restricted. Two major themes emerged: COVID-19 risk perception among young adults was experienced at multiple scales, from the global to individual; and perceived marginalisation of young adults by a conservative government in the vaccine rollout was experienced through the lens of past vulnerability and potential future insecurity.
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    Museums in the time of COVID-19: visitor participation and experience at Immigration Museum and Sovereign Hill
    Ljubetic, Zara ( 2021)
    Immigration Museum, Melbourne and Sovereign Hill, Ballarat are two iconic sites of Victoria, the cultural capital of Australia. Tied together by their histories of immigration, I aim to decipher the socio-cultural impacts of these sites during the precarious time of COVID-19. Through the perspective of eight interview participants and their shared multimedia, I analyse the visitor experience during 2021. The research findings are organised around the central themes of representation, time, and culture: representation meaning static versus progressive representations of the world at these sites; time meaning the COVID-19 reflections on these sites; and culture meaning how these sites foster connection and creativity during a crisis. I argue that these museums are fundamental to our sense of state identity, provide an escape from reality, and transport us to both confronting and optimistic times. In providing an insight into these sites during the time of COVID-19, this research contributes to the emerging scholarship of place-making, identity, social media and community during a time of disconnect at museums globally.
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    Citizenship in crisis: international students, food insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic in Melbourne
    Guest, Sara ( 2021)
    Between the months of March and December 2020, food insecurity emerged as key issue among the international student community of Melbourne. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in widespread job losses, and many international students - whose temporary migrant status rendered them with limited access to state support - experienced serious difficulties in accessing food. This thesis explores the nexus of citizenship and food insecurity in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic by drawing on 54 semi-structured, in-depth interviews with international students attending Victorian higher education institutions; 48 were conducted as a part of the Talking Hunger project on student food insecurity in Victoria and six were follow-up interviews. This research fills a gap in current qualitative work on the experiences of food insecurity among higher education students and adds to a growing body of literature concerning the dynamic nature of citizenship in moments of crisis. Theorising citizenship as the entitlements and responsibilities derived from membership to a community, I bring the practice and status elements of citizenship together in conversation with international students’ lived experience of food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, I discuss participants’ reflections on the nature of their membership to formal institutions namely the state and education institutions within the context of an acutely felt and interconnected experience of COVID-19 induced food insecurity. Furthermore, I demonstrate how students engaged in novel practices of citizenship based in care, empathy and solidarity in responding to food insecurity. This thesis therefore makes a contribution to the literature on food insecurity and citizenship in moments of crisis.
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    (re)Creating after the ‘Black Saturday’ bushfires: examining the role of creative disaster recovery projects in Strathewen, Victoria, Australia
    Douglas, Kate Elisabeth Whitley ( 2021)
    Due to climate change-induced intensifications in bushfire frequency and magnitude, Australian recovery initiatives are experiencing unprecedented pressure to support individuals and communities who have been affected by or involved in bushfire events. In response, organisations across Australia have begun to promote alternative recovery avenues, including that of creative recovery. In the wake of the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, Regional Arts Victoria (RAV) provided funding to 42 creative recovery projects through its Arts Recovery Quick Response Fund (2010). While these creative recovery projects varied in artistic medium, participant type, and spatial and temporal scale, they were all community-led initiatives designed to aid in individual and community recovery journeys. Drawing primarily on 12 semi-structured interviews with individuals involved in creative recovery projects conducted or installed in the town of Strathewen, Nillumbik Shire, this research examines the function and effects of these projects following Black Saturday. Thus far, geographical analyses have addressed the role of the creative arts within mental health recovery (see Duff, 2016; Smith, 2021), place-making (see Hawkins, 2013; Hawkins & Price, 2018) and experimentations with therapeutic practice (see Boyd, 2015). Building upon the findings and theoretical bases of these works, this thesis offers a novel exploration of creative approaches to disaster recovery. Through a micro-political analysis, the scope of this research also extends to evaluate the potential for a complementary relationship to develop between creative recovery projects and established, conventional methods of bushfire recovery.
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    Micro geographies of youth movement in Darjeeling, India
    Pradhan, Anna ( 2020)
    This thesis explores the everyday experiences of young women aged 19 to 21, as they navigate their lives as college students in a regional Indian town. It draws on two months of ethnographic fieldwork in the northeast Indian town of Darjeeling, to explore young women’s everyday movements in and around Darjeeling’s urban and natural settings. It examines the walking and wandering practices of both unmarried and married students, whose patterns of everyday movement shed light on the relationship between young people’s engagements with space and their own gendered journeys through the life course. I analyse these routine spatial practices to consider how young women’s everyday movements are folded into the wider spatial and social rhythms of life in the town. In this way, this thesis analyses the micro geographies of people’s movements, asking: how do young women move through local space, and what does this tell us about their gendered experience of youth? It examines the everyday walking and wandering practices of this group to highlight the gendered experiences of everyday life, within a period of youth marked by anticipation and uncertainty, waiting and expectation. It argues that these movements while ordinary and routine, bead together the tensions, joys and contradictions at the heart of small-town life.
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    Ross River virus, climate and environment in the Darling Downs, Queensland, Australia
    Meadows, Julia ( 2020)
    Ross River virus (RRV) disease is the most significant mosquito-borne disease in Australia with approximately 5,000 cases notified each year. The disease is characterised by joint pain and lethargy which can persist for several months and that places a significant burden on individual patients, the health care system and economy. Given the lack of effective treatment or vaccine for the disease, it is important to develop early warning systems and predictive RRV models that can then inform population health initiatives and RRV prevention. The complex ecology of RRV makes it a complicated disease to predict. The virus is unique in its capacity to exist across all environments and climates of Australia based on the number of vector and reservoir host species involved in transmission. Therefore, predictive models need to be developed at local scales in order to produce accurate and useful results. Moreover, climate has been isolated as a factor which influences animals, humans and the environment and therefore may be useful to RRV predictive models. This thesis aimed to develop a predictive model for RRV disease for the inland region of the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Services (HHS) area in Queensland, Australia. A negative binomial regression model was developed using lagged climate data and RRV notification data from the period of July 2001 to June 2014. Variables were selected using Spearman’s rank correlation and the model was developed using backward elimination. This model was then evaluated through the comparison of observed and model predicted RRV case numbers for the period of July 2014 to June 2019 using Pearson’s correlation and sensitivity and specificity measures. The final model used vapour pressure, solar radiation, relative humidity and the Southern Oscillation Index as predictor variables. The model was moderately effective at predicting RRV case numbers (Pearson’s correlation = 0.420) and RRV outbreaks (accuracy = 55%, sensitivity = 47%, specificity = 58%). Ultimately, this thesis found that climate is an important component of the RRV disease ecology cycle, but climate variables alone cannot accurately predict RRV outbreaks in the Darling Downs HHS, Queensland. This finding supports the One Health approach to population health policy and research which emphasises the interconnectedness between humans, animals and the environment. Therefore, there is a need to consider climate variables as well as socioeconomic and political factors in the development of predictive models for RRV.
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    Subaqueous speleothems from the Flinders Ranges as palaeoclimate archives for the arid zone
    Gould-Whaley, Calla ( 2020)
    There is a distinct paucity of palaeoclimate data across the Southern Hemisphere, particularly in the subtropics. In Australia, the subtropics are largely dominated by arid environments, which do not lend themselves to the preservation of palaeoclimate archives. Erosion and reworking of sediments and low-resolution archives results in discontinuous records that usually cannot be dated to a high degree of accuracy and precision. Alternatively, speleothems can offer high resolution multi-proxy records of past climate that can be tethered to accurate and precise chronologies. Mairs Cave, in the central Flinders Ranges, lies on Australia’s southern arid margin and is filled with subaqueous speleothems, a unique and largely unexplored archive. The subaqueous speleothems in Mairs Cave represent a rare and valuable opportunity to reconstruct the past climate of Australia’s southern arid margin. In this study, uranium-thorium disequilibrium dating, stable-isotope analysis and trace-element analysis were performed on two subaqueous speleothems from Mairs Cave. The results indicate that subaqueous growth began ~89 ka BP, with two periods of continuous growth around the middle of the Last Glacial Period, a burst of growth immediately after the Australian Last Glacial Maximum, and a final burst of growth in the mid-Holocene. The timing of these intervals suggests a strong association between rainfall at the cave site and summer insolation intensity in the Southern Hemisphere, indicating that the growth of the subaqueous speleothems was sustained by episodes of tropical moisture governed by orbital forcing. An inverse relationship is observed between growth rate of the subaqueous speleothems and temperatures in the North Atlantic (interpreted from the NGRIP oxygen isotope record). This relationship is attributed to variations in the strength of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, and demonstrates the influence of sub-orbital climate changes superimposed over orbital forcing. Magnesium concentration in the speleothems demonstrates a strong association with both insolation and NGRIP records, and is interpreted as a potential indicator of palaeotemperature. This interpretation is in opposition to classical speleothem studies of stalagmites, but in agreement with a recent study of subaqueous speleothems. Contrary to expectations, the oxygen isotope record exhibits a positive relationship with insolation. This is tentatively attributed to the ‘temperature effect’, but further research is required to test this hypothesis. Aside from this unresolved question that has arisen, the growth rate and magnesium records are testament to the potential of the subaqueous speleothems from Mairs Cave as palaeoclimate archives for Australia’s southern arid margin.
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    Planting a stance: food security in solar geoengineering discourse
    van Wulfften Palthe, Katerina ( 2020)
    In order to reduce the impacts of climate change, Solar Geoengineering (SGE) is a technology proposed to reduce impacts of climate change, without the need for CO2 intake. SGE is a largely contested technology and prediction of its impact are contentious, including its expected impact on food security. This study investigated different conceptualisations of food security within SGE debates. Through discourse analysis of 30 texts, 3 storylines were established, being a) food security is not significantly addressed, b) food security will improve under SGE and c) food security will worsen under SGE. The storylines were largely differentiated in their understandings of food security, impacts, and agents. Material and ideational power each storyline and their attached actors and practices was investigated. Material power was lacking overall, however there were distinct differences in how ideational power was attributed to each group.
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    A virtual paradise: Instagram and the production of nature on Palawan Island, the Philippines
    Parris-Piper, Naomi ( 2020)
    Much scholarly work has critically engaged with the adoption of ecotourism as an ostensive ‘sustainable development’ strategy for coastal spaces across Southeast Asia, highlighting how coastal dwellers are often marginalised and excluded by new representations and investments for mass tourism (Fabinyi 2018; Fletcher 2011). Less is known however, about the role of social media platforms in the making of coastal ecotourism destinations and how the proliferation of exoticized and idealised representations of coastal places and people contribute to shifting dynamics of access and control in coastal regions. To address this gap, this thesis joins an emerging conversation in political ecology that connects virtual representations of places and people disseminated online to tangible social and material changes. Drawing on a case study of El Nido—a coastal municipality of Palawan island, the Philippines—it examines how social media representations of coastal places and people have influenced the rise and changing character of ecotourism. Through critical discourse analysis and key informant interviews, it presents a narrative of the rise of ecotourism in El Nido as it intersects with coastal governance policies, investments and the social media activity of governance actors, service providers and tourists. It finds that social media platforms facilitate interactions that contribute to the intensification and acceleration of ongoing processes of coastal change through and for ecotourism with a range of negative social and environmental impacts. Social media incorporates new actors such as ‘Instagram influencers’ and platform algorithms into coastal political economies in ways that influence and govern how users of these platforms imagine and consume coastal places and people.