There is so much information available about disaster management and disaster response. It is quite a daunting task to become well read and well informed about this topic area. There is a large amount of information about disasters overseas – research has been done about disasters across Asia and for large scale recent disasters like Hurricane Katrina, the 2004 Tsunami, the Japanese Tsunami and earthquake and the multiple earthquakes in Christchurch (NZ). In comparison, Australian disasters have not been the subject of such an extensive body of research. Research is currently underway in Victoria – following the 2009 ‘Black Saturday’ fires. Research Institutes have been established in a number of Universities to conduct disaster research based in Australia – including Monash University, Melbourne University, a number of South Australian Universities, and the University of Western Sydney.
I worry that it is a little ‘dark’ to be focussed on disaster. However, I feel strongly that Australian communities demonstrate enormous courage, strength and resilience.
The Australian government and State/Territory governments have clear disaster management and disaster / emergency response policies and practices. While each crisis generates examples where we can improve our response and where mistakes can be identified, we do have a responsive approach with emergency services, payments and services that provide support to people in need. Non-government organisations also ‘step up’ and the general public respond with heart felt generosity.
It is important to learn and share our knowledge. It is important that governments listen to communities, that we share experience of what works for communities and why, and that as a society we capture this information so that we are prepared for when we will need it.