Multicultural Emergency Management Partnership


Supporting emergency preparedness and resilience among migrant and refugee communities

VCOSS is working with the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria to strengthen existing relationships between multicultural communities and emergency services.

By employing a genuinely collaborative model, the Multicultural Emergency Management Partnership ( or ‘MEMP’) is helping communities manage stresses and shocks — including emergencies — through a network of trusted, diverse and connected community leaders.

Transcript

Veema Mooniapah: COVID exacerbated the gaps, which could have been existing, but it exacerbated, brought to light, you know, major challenges.

Thuch Ajak: There was no consultation on how best can the community be engaged into this.

Andrew Crisp: We probably didn’t have the strength of those partnerships. Early days in COVID.

Veema: They were really facing the other side of government interventions where they felt their voice was not heard.

Thuch: Take, for instance, what happened during in Kensington and North Melbourne.

TV newsreader: Good evening. The sudden lockdown of thousands of public housing tower residents is under fire with social services left scrambling.

Thuch: The community didn’t have a chance, you know, to have a say on how best can, would have been controlled.

Veema: I think not bringing their voice into a solution that was meant for them. That is the biggest thing that triggered for me to be able to step into this space.

Andrew: Definitely lessons are learnings but as we know, they’re only lessons, heaven forbid we have the same situation occur again in the future that we have actually learned from those lessons.

Veema: People from multicultural background, they are, they have different experiences. They have different perceptions, as well. They have different approach to things. It doesn’t mean multicultural equals to dumb. They have strength and it’s important, so important for people to recognise that.

Lucy: I think the challenge that we’re really trying to solve is around creating safer, more resilient communities and higher performing emergency services at the same time.

Thuch: So during those periods, that’s when ECCV, VCOSS and the rest of the other players reach out to the multicultural community members of which I am one of the community leaders.

Andrew: It’s about building relationships, structures and processes in peacetime in the event that if something were to occur, you’ve actually, you know, you’ve got those solid relationships, you’ve got those networks, you know what you’re going to be doing.

Lucy: The multicultural partnership does really important work because it puts the community really at the center of everything that’s being done.

Andrew: It’s about how do you involve community in the decision making?

Veema: Authentic co-design is bringing the people along with you on this journey. Not at the end or as an ad hoc solution.

Andrew: It’s really interesting when it when it’s about we talk about emergency management, emergency services, you know, we’re problem solvers, you know, give us a problem you know, we want to fix it and we want to move on it. So you know, we need at times to sort of take a breath and to to step back and go through more of that planning process and it’s a bit it’s you know, it’s more about the listening.

Veema: Just bring them in and give them a seat at the table. Here is a problem, a challenge. How do you think that will work with you guys? Because you know your community’s best.

Lucy: As a model, what’s unique about the Multicultural EM Partnership is that it connects agencies who are experts in their field with other groups who are experts in their field. For example, groups who are experts in cultural and linguistic information sharing or communities who are from specific countries, or new migrant groups.

Andrew: You get together, you know, you learn from each other, emergency services and community.

Thuch: It’s a mutual kind of benefit between the two, the emergency agencies and also the community.

Lucy: We’re getting the best minds in the room, and that’s something that recognises, again, that strengths based approach to how we can work collaboratively to get the best outcomes for the community.

Veema: There was so much good work. We developed the, you know, the resources and the, you know, the training for community leaders and everything. They were so powerful and so popular, so people felt, including myself, that we are moving in the right direction with smart actions.

Thuch: Nowadays, we have monthly meetings where we sit and listen from all across the board and work to implement those priorities that are developed.

Veema: I can see they’re coming up with strategies I can see they are they have identified the need to have diversity, equity and inclusion within their workforce.

Andrew: For me, it is about, you know, it’s what you do in peace time. And that’s what we need to continue to do because we’re talking about COVID. You know, what potentially could be the next impact on multicultural, multi-faith communities?

Veema: Tomorrow there’ll be other pandemics, there’ll be floods, fire, there could be other forms of emergency.

Thuch: We are looking at, you know, MEMP as a model, a model that can be replicated you can do it at your local CFA or your local LGAs.

Veema: It’s not just we do that, we pilot that we finish, but that potential to continue.

Andrew: So it does take time to build those relationships, to develop the trust, to ensure you’re really understanding what those challenges and opportunities are.

Veema: If they can replicate this model, and of course tweak it to their specific needs It has to work.

The program includes not just VCOSS and ECCV, but 11 migrant and refugee community leaders, and representatives of emergency organisations including:

  • Ambulance Victoria  |  Emergency medical response and transport.
  • Australian Red Cross  |  Help before, during and after emergencies and disasters.
  • CFA  |  Volunteer fire fighting for rural and regional Victoria.
  • Emergency Management Victoria  |  Victoria’s lead emergency management agency.
  • Fire Rescue Victoria  |  Fire and rescue services for Melbourne and regional cities.
  • Life Saving Victoria  |  Water safety, swimming, rescue and resuscitation services.
  • Municipal Association of Victoria  |  The peak body for Victorian local councils.
  • Victoria Police  |  Public safety, emergencies, serious incidents, crime, road safety etc
  • Victoria State Emergency Service  |  Volunteer responses to flood, storm, landslide, etc
  • Victorian Council of Churches Emergency Ministry  |  Outreach, psychological first aid, personal support and emotional care

The Multicultural Emergency Management Partnership model provides a unique opportunity to bring together multicultural leaders and emergency services organisations to establish and strengthen relationships. The partnership will facilitate two-way knowledge sharing with the potential to increase the sector’s capability and capacity to effectively engage with the diverse communities that make up Victoria, and to improve outcomes from emergencies.

Andrew Crisp, Victorian Emergency Management Commissioner

Our vision

  • Safer, connected and resilient communities

Our approach

  • Community-led
  • Culturally safe
  • Inclusive and respectful
  • Supportive
  • Continuously improving
  • Collaborative.

Our goals

  • Building stronger relationships at local levels
  • Developing a stronger understanding of local community strengths and needs.
  • Developing relevant and tailored emergency plans and processes
  • Providing communities with access to simple and accurate information
  • Increasing cultural safety and inclusion in emergency management organisations

Our Model

We have co-designed a Partnership Model which provides a framework for ongoing collaboration between the emergency management sector and multicultural leaders and connectors.

VCOSS acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country. We pay respect to Elders both past and present, and to emerging leaders. Our offices are located on the sovereign, unceded land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation.