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Disaster

New Resources to support disaster preparedness for Queenslanders with disabilities

A man in a wheelchair at the emergency room of the city hospital.
Photo: Igor Akimov/ Dreamstime

Queenslanders with disabilities will be placed front and centre in disaster management and preparedness activities, with a suite of new resources available to prepare for disasters and guide the response of emergency services. 

Minister for Communities Leeanne Enoch today joined with representatives from community and disability organisations to showcase resources developed through the Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DIDRR) project.

“We know that people with disability are twice as likely to be injured and experience social isolation as a result of natural disasters,” Minister Enoch said.

“That’s why the Palaszczuk Government has partnered with the Community Services Industry Alliance, Queenslanders with Disability Network and the University of Sydney on this important project.

“Planning for disaster events is an important component of economic recovery, and ensuring all Queenslanders are included in that planning is critical,” Ms Enoch said.

Disability Services Minister Craig Crawford said the DIDRR project puts people with disability front and centre in conversations around disaster preparedness, local disaster management and human and social recovery.

“It links people with disability with emergency services and local disaster management groups and empowers them through peer-led initiatives to develop their own emergency preparedness plans,’’ Mr Crawford said.

In developing resources through the DIDRR project, the Palaszczuk Government and partner organisations undertook extensive consultation right across the state with people with disability, peak bodies and advocates, the community services sector, local government, and emergency services.

Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN) Chief Executive Officer Paige Armstrong said QDN was a proud partner in this work.

“We know that people with disability are experts in their own lives and disaster and emergency planning starts with them,” Ms Armstrong said.

“The person-centred emergency preparedness workbook, which has been co-designed by our QDN peer leaders, is a great tool to provide information, resources and guidance to get the emergency preparedness conversation started.”

Des Ryan is one of the Queenslanders with disability who participated in the DIDRR project.

Des has experienced firsthand how a natural disaster can impact people with disability, after a cyclone hit his community and isolated him from his usual support networks.

“As one of QDN’s DIDRR Peer Leaders, we have had the experience of being unprepared and depending on neighbours,” Des said.

“Through peer support, we have helped support others and broadened our connections with local council disaster and emergency services so we can communicate our needs in a disaster with others.”

Associate Professor Michelle Villeneuve from the Centre for Disability Research and Policy at the University of Sydney said people with disability have the same rights as everyone to learn about and prepare for emergencies.

“By learning about what people can do for themselves and what they need support for, these resources are helping people with disability to optimise their self-reliance and planned reliance on their support network when disasters strike,” Associate Professor Villeneuve said.

“They are also contributing to the development of more inclusive and responsive disaster management practices that build whole-of-community resilience to disaster.

“This project shows the power of working together with people with disability to deliver practical tools that everybody can use.”

Community Services Industry Alliance (CSIA) CEO Belinda Drew said this unique partnership between people with disability, community service providers and the University of Sydney’s deep expertise has delivered great results.

“CSIA led the focus on building the capability of community service organisations to plan well for disasters of all kinds, as these organisations play a crucial role in helping people of all abilities to plan for disaster,” Ms Drew said.

“What we have seen in this project is people with disability, community service providers, local government and the emergency management sector work together to ensure all Queenslanders are well prepared for disasters of any kind.”

The Disability Inclusive Risk Reduction project will now move into a third phase which will focus on supporting homeless Queenslanders.

For more information about the DIDRR project, visit https://www.chde.qld.gov.au/inclusive-disaster-planning 

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