Publication Details

Croft, R. J. (2015). Boyce Worthley Oration. 'Drawing the line': A risk communication perspective. Radiation Protection in Australasia, 32 (2), 2-10.


The paper represents a text version of the Australian Radiation Protection Society's Boyce Worthley Oration, which I had the privilege of delivering in 2014. The purpose of the presentation was to address the issue of whether, from a risk communication perspective, enough radiation protection research had been conducted and it was time to 'draw the line'. The paper addresses this issue by focusing on the radiofrequency (RF) risk communication domain, but is also applicable to radiation protection more generally. It fi rst provides a brief overview of both community concern about RF and the relative support from science regarding this concern, where it is argued that the science does not provide support for such concern. It then looks at some of the reasons for this discrepancy, and argues that it is due to the very complex, very 'normal' ways that humans process information and create meaning from it, but which consequently also leads to error and limits the applicability of specifi c communication strategies to the community more generally. Drawing the above conclusions together the paper then argues that regardless of how certain RF health research outcomes are or could in principle be in the future, there will remain a strong need to adapt to the complexity of people's interpretation of the science, and that this will necessitate both further RF risk communication and RF basic science research; it concludes that no line can be drawn. On a more positive note the paper also looks at what risk communication is doing in the RF domain, and provides some practical advice aimed at improving risk communication outcomes.