Kim Spurway

Adjunct Lecturer

Kim Spurway was a Lecturer in 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 in 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
Development Studies, Social Development

Affiliation and Memberships

  • The Australian Sociological Association
  • Development Studies Association of Australia
  • The Australian Evaluation Society
Subject areas


Book Chapters
Spurway KS; Griffiths T, 2016, 'Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction: Vulnerability and Resilience Discourses, Policies and Practices', in Soldatic K; Grech S (ed.), Disability in the Global South The Critical Handbook, Springer, pp. 469 - 482,
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, San Diego, CA, presented at XVII International Sociological Association World Congress: Sociology on the move, Sweden, 11 July 2010 - 17 July 2010,
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
Spurway KS; Soldatic K; Somers 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: international journal of urban and regional research, vol. 49, pp. 2342 - 2361,
Spurway K; Soldatic KM, 2015, '“Life just keeps throwing lemons”: the lived experience of food insecurity among Aboriginal people with disabilities in the West Kimberley', Local Environment: the international journal of justice and sustainability, vol. 21, pp. 1118 - 1131,
Spurway KS; Benini A; Conley C; Shdeed R; Yarmoshuk M, 2003, 'Integration of Different Data Bodies for Humanitarian Decision Support: An Example from Mine Action', Disasters, vol. 27, pp. 288 - 304,
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
Spurway K; Zwi A, 2018, Urbanisation and Natural Disaster: A Systematic Review, EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education, University College London, London, EPPI-Centre Publications: Systematic Reviews,
Zwi A; Spurway K; Marincowitz R; Ranmuthugala G; Hobday K; Thompson L, 2018, Do CBDRM initiatives impact on the social and economic costs of disasters? If so, how, why, when and in what way(s)?, EPPI-Centre, London,,%20how,%20why,%20when%20and%20in%20what%20way(s)?
Zwi A; spurway K, 2016, What is the Impact of Urbanisation on Risk of, and Vulnerability to, Natural Disasters? What are the Effective Approaches For Reducing Exposure of Urban Population to Disaster Risks? Protocol for Stage 1, EPPI Centre, University of London,
Soldatic KM; Spurway K, 2014, Hard Yakka: LIving with a disability in the West Kimberley, UNSW Australia, Sydney
Zwi A; Spurway K; Ranmuthugala G; Marincowitz R; Thompson L; Hobday K, 2013, Do community based disaster risk management (CBDRM) initiatives reduce the social and economic costs of disasters? Protocol., Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre, University of London (EPPI-Centre), London,
Spurway KS; Benini A; Shdeed R, 2003, Landmine Impact Survey: Republic of Lebanon, Survey Action Center, Washington, D.C., Landmine Impact Survey National Reports,
Spurway KS; Lucet M; Benini A; Moulton L, 2001, Landmine Impact Survey: Republic of Chad, Survey Action Center, Washington, D.C., Landmine Impact Survey National Reports,
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