Disaster and Disadvantage Report

Disaster and Disadvantage: Social vulnerability in emergency management

Victoria has been struck by a series of devastating and costly natural disasters in recent years. The demands of changing environmental conditions – of the increasing frequency and intensity of floods, fires, dryness and heatwave – is projected to continue and will likely become worse. Emergencies are devastating, personally and financially, for individuals and families and they impact hugely on both local economies and more widely on local and state government expenditure and capacity. The impact, of course, is worse for communities that have already struggled with sustained drought or wider structural adjustment.

VCOSS has recommended a long-term approach to planning for emergencies that builds on the experience of communities and organisations. This includes:

  • investing in increased emergency management capacity in local government and community sector organisations to plan for and respond to emergencies,
  • funding community sector organisations to undertake risk management, planning and staff training specifically for emergency events, ensuring clear mechanisms, including MOUs, are in place to financially reimburse community sector organisations for the provision of a range of pre-agreed services for affected communities,
  • improving the capacity of community sector organisations and local governments to undertake heatwave planning and response, and
  • improving the thermal efficiency of the homes of those Victorians who are most vulnerable in heatwaves, particularly those with disabilities, medical conditions and chronic illnesses.