THE Leave Early or Stay and Defend message has failed to connect with the public and needs and update, according to a Psychology Professor.
La Trobe University adjunct professor Dr Jim McLennan said the stay and defend or leave early messages "had failed."
Dr McLennan, speaking at an Australian Science Media Centre briefing said the message should be more akin to "the safest place to be is somewhere else, and its better if your house is still there when you return."
Dr McLennan's research found one third of people would adopt a "wait and see'' approach in the event of a bushfire.
He said the fire protection agencies needed to take look at how health promotion agencies got their message across to the public.
"The problem is no different to getting people to stop smoking, reduce their alchol intake or wear helmets when they are riding a bike,'' Dr McLennan said.
"It is very difficult to change behaviour when there's incentives and rewards not to change."
Dr McLennan said there was further concern with the advent of text message warnings that people would pass responsibility for their personal safety over to fire agencies.