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Disability and Disaster Resilience Forum – Resources

The purpose of this forum was to identify and explore priority issues in emergency management for people with disability and examine why responses are failing to be consistently inclusive in spite of the rights-based frameworks and policies that are in place.  This forum was held online on 27 August 2020.


This year is a strong contender for the ‘Year of the Disaster’ with the longest drought, highest floods and most intense bushfires on record, and a global health pandemic that continues to wreak social and economic havoc.

Time and time again, we find the needs of people with disability are overlooked or, at best, only considered in a piecemeal manner.  For example, when COVID-19 hit, it took 70 national, state and territory disability organisations to sign an open letter calling on all levels of government to consider urgent actions that would protect the lives of Australians with disability, before public officials scrambled to engage.

As the community concurrently navigates bushfire recovery and COVID-19response, we have a unique opportunity to come together to centre the lived experience of people with disability, and identify, reflect on, learn from, and advocate for improved responses to people with disability in times of disaster.

We could spend a lot of time unpacking the reasons for institutional neglect but what we really want to know is, in the context of emergency preparedness, response and recovery, what has to change to ensure that the rights of people with disability are embedded in a meaningful way into all government programs, plans, strategies and policies? How do we clear a path to full inclusion?

Speakers include:

  • Andrew Crisp, Emergency Management Commissioner, Victoria
  • Professor Anne Kavanagh, Chair in Disability and Health,  Centre for Health Equity,, University of Melbourne
  • Associate Professor Michelle Villeneuve, Centre for Disability Research and Policy, University of Sydney
  • Angela Cook, Project Manager, Community Engagement, Country Fire Authority

Bridget Tehan, Policy Officer Emergency Management, VCOSS, facilitates a panel with guests:

  • Christina Ryan, CEO, Disability Leadership Institute
  • Adrian Terranova, Executive Officer, Gippsland Disability Advocacy Inc.
  • Michele Watson, Coordinator for Community Programs, Aged & Disability Services and Deputyunicipal Recovery Manager at Yarra City Council
  • Angela Cook, Project Manager, Community Engagement, Country Fire Authority

Use the links below to access the video, audio and transcript for each session.

Helicopter overview to the rescue (off-site)Disability inclusive disaster preparedness (off-site)Person centred risk assessment (off-site)Danger Zone playlist on YouTube (off-site)Disability meets disaster - case studies (off-site)Bridging the gaps and playing safe in a crisis (off-site)

Date published:
Thu 27th Aug, 2020