Natural disasters occur throughout Australian history and across most areas of the continent. We are not strangers to natural disaster, and our experience of fires, floods and cyclones, forms part of our individual, community and national psyche.
Disasters are widely understood to have four main phases: prevention, preparation, response and recovery. There can be (and is) discussion about two crises: the initial crisis event, and then the subsequent crisis that emerges during response and recovery. There is also room for plenty of discussion about whether recovery is short, medium or long term and whether our focus needs to shift from recovery to prevention. There is considerable need for attention to be given to all phases of disaster and for that attention to include many voices: from planners and policy makers, to emergency response agencies and volunteers, and not least of all community members. This site focuses largely on the recovery process after the (initial) crisis has passed and the response has occurred.
The disaster recovery ‘debate’ in Australia has included the views and voices of government at all levels (federal, state and local), of emergency services, of non-government organisations and of the private sector. Australia’s approach to disaster response includes having a National Disaster Resilience Strategy (endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments – COAG), preparing State/Territory and local community disaster management plans, ensuring that households have household plans and disaster kits, and focussing on understanding risk, and mitigating risk. All of these elements are important, however it is important that communities themselves have a ‘voice’ in this discussion, and share their ideas and experiences with one another.
As Australian’s we are resilient – we have all recovered from adversity or tragedy at some point in our lives. Our communities continue to prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters – sometimes extreme disasters. If communities from across Australia embrace a process of sharing stories, examples and information about what has been working for them, we will all be able to enhance the resilience of our own communities.
This site documents my research process, as I gather information from community members themselves, about their experience and what they have learned. Information is also available from government and non-government sources if you would like to understand more about natural disaster in Australia.