A ‘community safety approach’ to building disaster resilience recognises active engagement with and empowerment of the community as central to achieving resilience over the long term.

Resilient Communities

In keeping with Tasmania’s Disaster Resilience Strategy 2020-2025, the community needs to be equally prepared as response agencies for the impacts of all hazards and, in particular, the impacts of natural disasters. Resilient communities are better able to withstand an emergency event and have an enhanced ability to recover from the event.

A ‘Community Safety Approach’  does not reduce government or agency responsibility in emergency management, but strengthens community participation and influence. It recognises that resilience is enhanced when communities play a key role in their own safety.

Community engagement could be hazard-specific or take an all-hazards approach. Regardless of the approach, it is important that messages are consistent and coordinated across all programs.

Click below to reveal Community education and awareness campaigns which aim to:

Develop awareness of the nature and potential impacts of hazards;

Promote individual responsibility for managing risks and preparation for emergencies

Develop awareness of emergency management arrangements and assistance measures

Encourage community participation in volunteering and infrastructure protection activities.

TEMA as a Resource

The Tasmanian Emergency Management Arrangements (TEMA) are issued under the authority of the Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management in accordance with the requirements of Section 32 of the Emergency Management Act 2006.  It now recognises that response and recovery agencies work in partnership with individuals and communities to ensure Tasmanians’ safety during and after emergencies. Watch the video below and click on the TEMA link to see the information on Community Engagement.

The importance of effective Communication in the community

Preparation for and resilience to catastrophic events begins in early engagement and education with communities. Community safety campaigns should stress that community members should not expect or wait for a warning in an emergency.

Prior to any emergency, community engagement will often identify local community groups or leaders who can act as dissemination channels during an emergency. A few examples include:

  • Community radio stations
  • Facebook groups,
  • Local emergency service units and brigades, or local clubs
  • Ccommunity noticeboards

During an emergency, it is not uncommon for individuals to emerge as key dissemination points for warnings. They typically have a personal connection to the impacted areas, and a limited background in warnings policy and practice.

Sometimes referred to as ‘influencers’, they can play an important role in amplifying the reach and impact of official messages.

People at increased risk in an emergency

Identifying vulnerable people within the Tasmanian community has been recognised in the Tasmanian Disaster Resilience Strategy (TDRS) 2020-2025. Vulnerability refers to the susceptibility of individuals, communities, assets or systems to the impact of hazards due to physical, social, economic and/or environmental factors.

The TDRS 2020-2025 Strategy recognises individuals are both resilient and vulnerable, as are the systems that connect our communities and economies. Disasters expose or exacerbate both individual and collective vulnerabilities.

The Guide, People at Increased Risk in an Emergency  is a guide for Tasmanian government and non-government community service providers and was developed for people who find preparing for, responding to or recovering from an emergency challenging because they are experiencing factors that compromise their safety and security, health and wellbeing, knowledge, and/or social connection.

The TDRS 2020-2025, and the Tasmanian Emergency Management Arrangements (TEMA) focus on how Tasmanian government and non-government community services providers can help to consider and address factors that can increase a person’s level of risk in an emergency.

Tasmanian community demographic factors impact on individual and collective vulnerabilities. Such factors include:

  • An aging population,
  • Literacy levels,
  • Educational attainment,
  • Social engagement or isolation,
  • Employment levels,
  • Access to health, transport and other services.

Other considerations are that many Tasmanians have specific needs, for example language or literacy issues, mobility or other health issues, as well as local risk factors. While Local councils directly support their communities through a variety of measures, in the future it has been suggested to leverage government and non-government community-based organisations as conduits into local communities, particularly in rural and remote areas.

Some groups within communities are harder to reach during an emergency. They include, for example, isolated communities or individuals, people with limited or no access to commonly used technologies and telecommunication, those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people with low literacy, and people with a disability requiring specific modes of communication. It is critical these groups are well catered for in the design and issue of public information and warnings.

Terminology

In the context of this module PUBLIC PARTICIPATION is a term often used for community engagement, both are interchangeable.

In the context of this module DISASTER is a term often used for emergency, both are interchangeable.

“Join Learn Be Ready” campaign launch. Hobart Tasmania Fri 17th Oct 2014 picture by Peter Mathew

This brings us to the completion of this module

In Summary:

Community engagement is paramount in empowering communities to develop resilience. Aspects to consider include:

  • Communities are dynamic-ever changing
  • Resilience is enhanced when communities play an important role in their own safety
  • Engaging partnerships within the community to encourage a shared responsibility approach to emergency management has positive outcomes
  • Resourcing and supporting community engagement through a number of strategies is integral in the development of community resilience
  • Having knowledge of the Planning, Preparation, Response and Recovery processes in communities builds the capability and capacity of a community in an emergency.

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