Everyone plays their part in reducing and preparing for disaster
Disaster resilience is a team sport
Disaster resilience involves collaboration within and across organisations, sectors and communities. It is important to work together with a wide variety of key players to effectively reduce risks- at a household, business, organisational, government or jurisdictional level. It relies on everyone collaborating for their own and everyone’s safety and well-being. It relies on everybody knowing what they are accountable or responsible for. This does not mean that the Tasmanian Government is abrogating its responsibility, but that the Tasmanian Government works with others and to reducer disaster risk for all Tasmanians.
Everyone contributes to Tasmania’s disaster resilience for individual and collective benefits including:
- Individuals and households
- Businesses and other organisations
- Governments at all levels and across all sectors.
- Individuals, households, businesses and other organisations understanding and acting on risks that affect them
- Having home and building insurance is one key way individuals, households and businesses can ensure they can bounce back better from a disaster.
The Tasmanian government has collaborative networks and governance arrangements to work with communities, other sectors and other levels of government. The State Emergency Management Committee (SEMC) is the body that oversees disaster resilience for the Tasmanian Government. There are four sub-committees supporting the SEMC focusing of key areas:
- Informed risk management
- Community resilience and capacity
- EM Sector capabilities
These supporting sub-committees have close connections with related governance arrangements organised by:
- Location – regional and municipal management committees
- Hazard or focus area, such as bushfire, biosecurity and so forth.
These bodies regularly assess risks and identify priorities and develop plans to reduce disaster risks. This is an iterative process that aims to make the best use of available resources that can adapt to changing or emerging circumstances. The SEMC sub-committees identify annual priorities and plans.
There are close relationships between local and state governments and across Australia. Disasters often do not stop at jurisdictional boundaries, and it is important that all governments work together. Tasmanian Government participates in national level bodies, such as ANZEMC, ANZCTC, AFAC, AIDR amongst others.
For more information about Tasmanian EM governance arrangements see the:
Disaster risk as hazard x exposure x vulnerability
To be at risk in a disaster means being both exposed and vulnerable to a hazard or threat. For example, if a person not near the hazard or threat is not exposed to it.
Everyone is both capable and vulnerable in the face of disasters, but some people are more at risk than others due to their personal circumstances or attributes. For example, those with asthma or other respiratory conditions are often more vulnerable when exposed to a bushfire hazard. Given they may not be able to stop the bushfire nor significantly reduce their vulnerability due to asthma, their best way to reduce risk may be to reduce exposure.
The core of disaster resilience is reducing risk. This can involve reducing hazards, exposures, and/or vulnerabilities. Historically managing disasters has focused on the hazard, however, disaster resilience recognises that sometimes hazards or threats cannot be avoided. Tasmanians should think about how they can reduce their exposures and vulnerabilities to hazards. Disaster resilience decisions and actions can be different for separate groups and sectors.
For individuals and families, being disaster resilient means:
- Reducing risks in and around their homes
- Planning what to do in an emergency
- Joining with others in the community to put plans into action
- Supporting community organisations. People will rely on them after a disaster and they can help people understand and prepare for events.
For businesses and other organisations
For organisations, it is essential that disaster risks are considered alongside other business risks and that those risks are managed. Disaster risk management should be mainstreamed into everyday activities, they should be part of all organisations’ everyday business. This can include:
- What would your organisation do if you did not have access to key buildings, equipment or other facilities because they were damaged or destroyed?
- How would it cope without key systems, such as information technology, communications systems or electricity? What contingency plans are there in place?
- If staff were unable to come to work due to transport issues, a pandemic or other threat, what would your organisation do?
In almost all cases, businesses and other organisations cope much better with unexpected events, and recover from them quicker and easier if they have thought out what they would do beforehand. Resources, Business Tasmania .
- For facilities, equipment, systems and processes.
Emergency planning is important
Disaster resilience and emergency planning is not a one-off activity and should constantly be revisited. Just as Tasmania’s response agencies review actions taken in each event to improve practices, all businesses should aim to regularly reflect on what works and what could be improved. Actual events are great learning tools for this, but we obviously try to avoid them if at all possible. Scenario exercises to test plans are an excellent learning tool and can help to improve plans and arrangements. This is true even of discussion, desk top exercises.
Many risk reduction measures are useful, even if there is no emergency event. This should be exploited where possible. For example,
- Data back-ups are useful for many different scenarios, not just for cyber-attacks
- Considering business process improvements for an emergency situation can sometimes uncover improvements for everyday business
- Emergency supplies, such as torches, can be useful for other reasons than emergencies.
The supporting role of Tasmania’s EM sector in disaster resilience
Those in the EM sector can support all those groups to reduce disaster risk and prepare. One of the key roles of government is to provide information about risks and threats, plus supporting information. For example:
- Risk Ready provides information about the exposure of buildings to hazards such as flood, landslide and bushfire and directs people to guidance information on reducing risk and preparing
- TasALERT provides warning and other information, plus links to guidance on being prepared
- Business Tasmania runs workshops and provides guidance for businesses on managing risks and being prepared
- Tasmania Fire Service has a range of community resilience initiatives to support households and communities
For more information on roles and responsibilities, see the Tasmanian Emergency Management Arrangements.
For communities, and those supporting communities such as local government, and community service organisations:
Local government plays key roles in supporting their communities’ disaster resilience and Tasmanian councils are active in this area. Examples include:
- The Resilient Hobart program
- Launceston City Council’s flood information amongst resources related to other hazards, plus related programs for local schools and so forth.
For example, amongst many others;
- Red Cross ReadyPlan and other resources
- Support for Tasmanians through eg St Vincent dePaul
- Surf Life Saving , St Johns Ambulance and other organisations that can support disaster response and recovery, amongst their other contributions.
- Tasmanian government agencies have several levels of responsibility in relation to disaster resilience
- The first is the same as any other organisation: to reduce risks to their own operations and services and be prepared
- Many state government agencies provide services or have functions that are vital to Tasmanian communities
- The second it to work collaboratively across agencies and other levels of government and sectors to enable effective disaster risk and preparedness.