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Disaster and disadvantage: Social vulnerabili. . .

Disaster and disadvantage: Social vulnerability in emergency management

Document published on 13 June 2014

Disasters and emergencies such as bushfires, floods and heatwaves can affect all Australians, no matter what their background or status – but they don’t affect us all equally.

Experience and research tells us that disasters are in ‘profoundly discriminatory’, both in where they strike, and in the way they affect people.

Yet we still do not adequately prepare and plan for the needs of vulnerable people before, during and after emergencies.

This report, Disaster and disadvantage: Social vulnerability in emergency managementmakes a series of recommendations on how to better prepare for and deliver enhanced emergency response, relief and recovery measures that specifically support socially vulnerable people.

Recommendations:

  1. That the emergency management sector seeks to better understand the diversity of communities, including the needs of socially vulnerable people.
  2. That the emergency management sector plans effectively for socially vulnerable people and communities, in partnership with the community sector.
  3. That the emergency management sector deliver enhanced emergency response, relief and recovery measures that specifically support socially vulnerable people.
  4. That the emergency management sector develops targeted, effective communication methods for reaching socially vulnerable people.
  5. That the Victorian government works to address the causes of disadvantage to reduce the prevalence of social vulnerability and build resilience before emergencies occur.

While much has been done in Victoria in recent years to improve disaster prevention, preparation, response and recovery arrangements, there remain significant policy gaps around building the resilience and meeting the needs of socially vulnerable people. It is now time to fill these gaps.

Policy makers, emergency management planners, the community sector and emergency services need to work together to prepare for and deliver enhanced emergency response, relief and recovery measures that specifically support socially vulnerable people. We must also communicate better with people who are socially vulnerable and at increased risk during the disasters and emergencies that are an all too common part of Australian life.

Full report: Disaster and disadvantage: Social vulnerability in emergency management