Disability Inclusive Emergency Planning (DIEP) Forum
Published on 05 May 2023
Bellingen Shire Council in partnership with the University of Sydney's Leave Nobody Behind project, hosted the very first Disability Inclusive Emergency Planning (DIEP) Forum on 26th April at the Cedar Bar. The forum addressed the critical issue of the vulnerability of people with disabilities during climate and disaster risks and their limited involvement in emergency preparedness, disaster risk reduction, and decision-making.
The DIEP forum brought together emergency services representatives, people with lived experiences of disability, and relevant service providers to share and learn how to make emergency management more inclusive of people with disabilities and their carers. The event aimed to provide strategies to reduce the risk and increase the resilience of people with disabilities during disasters and emergencies, as well as identify gaps in the current disaster planning and preparedness.
Photo: In The Trees photography
The forum included discussions on people-centered approaches to emergency management, factors that increase risk for people with disabilities in emergencies, local community assets that can be shared before, during and after an emergency to help keep people safe, and strategies to reduce risk and increase resilience of people with disabilities to disaster.
"People-centered approaches place people and their needs at the center of responsive disaster management and position them as the main agents of development and change," said Associate Professor Michelle Villeneuve, the lead of University of Sydney's Leave Nobody Behind project.
Being prepared for disasters can reduce the loss of life, property, and possessions. Hence, it is vital to include everyone, including people with disabilities, who may need extra support, resources, and advocacy to enable their preparedness.
"People with disability are the experts in their lives, and emergency planning needs to start with them," said the event organiser from Bellingen Shire Council, Linda Villy.
Event organisers Linda Villy and Jocelyn Box. Photo: In The Trees photography
The DIEP Forum is a significant step towards making emergency planning more inclusive of people with disabilities and their carers. The event aimed to raise awareness and provide strategies for communities, organisations, and service providers to ensure that people with disabilities are at the center of emergency planning.
"We're working hard to ensure everyone is included and good disaster management practices are in place across Bellingen Shire. Bringing opportunities like this to the community and to organizations and services helps us all to reflect on what we have in place and what we can improve," said Mayor Steve Allan.
Everyone can play their part in making sure people with disabilities and their support needs are at the center of emergency planning. The DIEP Forum serves as a call to action for communities, organisations, and service providers to take steps toward a more inclusive emergency planning approach.
For more information on Disaster Preparedness and Recovery in the Shire, head to the council website
bellingen.nsw.gov.au/Community/Community-Resilience or email email@example.com