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  • Writer's pictureNicola Smart

Alison Scotland on her PHA Journey

Updated: Apr 5

PHA is driven by its many skilled volunteers, who bring their expertise to design better quality housing and community infrastructure in regions in the South Pacific that are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events. One element of this expertise is the DANCER system, that has been an integral part of PHA's recent projects, and has recently been further embedded by dedicated Board Director and Training and Publications Manager Alison Scotland. Read more about her background, how she balances PHA with life's responsibilities and the exciting projects she is helping bring to life with PHA.

How did you come to be involved with PHA?

I met Rod Johnston and Peter Cheers through my work at Standards Australia. It was when Peter and I were both presenting at the Pacific Tropical Building Forum in 2018 that I discovered more about the amazing stuff Partner Housing was achieving with post-disaster housing reconstruction, directly with those who need it most. Chatting later about it with Rod, I mentioned that Partner Housing’s vision was something I loved… to which Rod suggested I could do more and join up! With my standards background and linkages to various government bodies, it was a no-brainer.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of the work?

I feel privileged to be part of such a dedicated and talented group of people focused on improving the lives of villagers across the Asia-Pacific. Every time we meet as a Board, we share stories of all the building, water reticulation and sanitation projects underway. I find it impressive to see the extent of positive impact that we have as a relatively small volunteer organisation.

Are there any challenges you've found?

For me it is the challenge of balance. Having a young family, crazy day job and busy life, I do feel the stress of not being able to give more of my time to Partner Housing. That said, everyone on the Board is there to support each other and rallies together to get some amazing things done.

What does the future hold for you? What are you excited about in the work being done with PHA?

Given that it relates to my standards background, I am excited to see how much impact the DANCER building system is having for South Pacific village houses, clinics, schools and community buildings. DANCER stands for “Direct Anchorage Non-cyclonic / Cyclone & Earthquake Resistant,” and it uses the principles of existing Australian building standards to provide practical advice on how to achieve wind, earthquake and tsunami-resistant buildings in the region. Seeing the DANCER building system being used for the construction of 83 houses and several community buildings planned for the Freshwin and Freshwater sites in Vanuatu next year will be a great thrill!

Examples of DANCER houses PHA has done

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