Dr Kim Spurway

PhD (UNSW), Master of Social Science (Development Studies)Bachelor of Arts
School of Social Sciences


+61 (2) 9385 8483
+61 (2) 9662 8991
G15 Morven Brown
Kensington Campus
Fields: Public Policy, Environment Policy, Natural Hazards, Sociology
Tags: Defence and Security Policy, International Aid and Development, Natural Hazards

Kim Spurway is a Lecturer in Public Policy and Governance and Development Studies at the School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW.

Her research interests are the role of knowledge and rationality in decision-making and policymaking, disaster and emergency risk management and post-conflict reconstruction in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Kim's PhD examined the role of knowledge and rationality in disaster decision-making practice. The PhD used a systematic review of the literature to explore and map the body of research on the topic. The key argument of the thesis was that despite the apparent dominance of rational choice accounts of social action, in fact, the research demonstrates that other voices have an equally powerful role in modern liberal societies. This is demonstrated through a systematic review of the literature in disaster research, which shows a dynamic and socially interactive process that involves social actors using situated forms of rationality in response and contextualised decision-making processes.

Kim also completed a systematic review of the literature on the effectiveness of community based disaster risk management programs for the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). She is currently research the resilience paradigm in disaster risk management, the lived experiences of Indigenous people with disabities in remote areas and the role of systematic reviews in evidence based policy.

Kim has researched, written and published three nationwide reports commissioned by the United Nations on the socio-economic impact of landmines and unexploded ordinance on post-conflict countries. She has also co-authored reports and articles with leading scholars in the field of post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation.

Research Areas
Disaster risk reduction and risk management; humanitarian emergencies; public policy and governance; rationality, knowledge and decision-making; post-conflict reconstruction; community based disaster risk management; critical disability studies.

Current Research

  • Situated rationality and contextualised decision-making practice in disaster risk management: a systematic review of the literature
  • Reviewing the evidence: challenges and constraints in using systematic review methods in the social sciences
  • Resilience and vulnerability paradigms in disaster risk reduction and humanitarian emergencies
  • Food insecurity and food sovereignty for Indigenous people with disabilities in Kimberley region of West Australia
  • Experiences of Indigenous people with disabilities in Kimberley region of West Australia


Teaching areas
Social Research and Policy, Development Studies, Social Development

Current teaching

  • SRAP1000 Policy & Society
  • SRAP2002 Policy Case Studies
  • SRAP5101 Research Methods
  • SRAP5092 Policy Project

Affiliation and Memberships

  • The Australian Sociological Association
  • The International Sociological Association
  • Disaster Research Committee of the International Sociological Association


    Book Chapters

    Journal articles

    • Spurway K, 2018, 'Critical reflections on Indigenous peoples’ ecological knowledge and disaster risk management in Australia: A rapid evidence review', Global Media Journal : Australian Edition, vol. 12, pp. 1 - 16
    • Soldatic K;Somers K;Spurway K;van Toorn G, 2017, 'Emplacing Indigeneity and rurality in neoliberal disability welfare reform: The lived experience of Aboriginal people with disabilities in the West Kimberley, Australia', Environment and Planning A, vol. 49, pp. 2342 - 2361, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0308518X17718374
    • Spurway K;Soldatic K, 2016, '“Life just keeps throwing lemons”: the lived experience of food insecurity among Aboriginal people with disabilities in the West Kimberley', Local Environment, vol. 21, pp. 1118 - 1131, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13549839.2015.1073235
    • Benini AA;Shdeed R;Yarmoshuk M;Conley CE;Spurway K, 2003, 'Integration of different data bodies for humanitarian decision support: An example from mine action', Disasters, vol. 27, pp. 288 - 304, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0361-3666.2003.00234.x

    Conference Papers

    • Spurway KS, 2010, 'Critical interventions: knowledge, decision and disasters', in Nagai T (ed.), XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology Sociology on the Move Gothenburg, Sweden 11 - 17 July, 2010: Conference Abstracts, International Sociological Association, Sweden, presented at XVII International Sociological Association World Congress: Sociology on the move, Sweden, 11 - 17 July 2010, http://www.isa-sociology.org/


    Theses / Dissertations

    • Spurway KS, 2012, Decision-making in disaster management: mapping the thematic complexities and understanding the contested rationalities of social practice, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

    Working Papers

    • Dansie A;Schmeidl S;Spurway K;Chin M;Leslie G, 2018, Australia-Vietnam Water Utilities Twinning Program Monitoring Report, University of New South Wales Global Water Institute, Sydney

Teaching and Supervision





Engagement and Professional contributions

Applied Research Working Group, The Australian Sociological Association

Critical Disability Working Group, The Australian Sociological Association

Disaster Research Working Group, International Sociological Association

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