Disaster Resilient Schools Education Program national tour

Throughout May, a series of free DRANZSEN Group Forums was facilitated in each capital city, commencing in Sydney on the 12th and concluding in Adelaide on the 31st. It is the first time that AIDR has provided this opportunity to teachers, emergency service and non-government agency staff and others to share ideas about disaster resilience education (DRE) both locally and nationally. 
Over 120 people from across the country who are involved in the development and/or delivery of disaster resilience and related educational activities participated in the programs. Forum programs varied from state to state, reflecting each Group's interests and needs. For example, some included interactive exercises that challenged people to think about what might happen when a disaster strikes. Others offered panel discussions or guest speakers. One of the guest speakers was Michelle Roberts, a psychologist, teacher and child disaster consultant, from the Student Incident Response Unit at the Victorian Department of Education. 
Michelle has over 30 years’ experience with children, schools, emergencies, critical incidents and trauma. She spoke about what is meant by DRE and how it assists children and young people, and their communities, recover from the impact of disasters. "Disaster resilience education strengthens children’s skills so that they understand the risks of disasters in their communities and are able to play a role in reducing risks and impacts of potential disasters," said Michelle. "Young people are capable of carrying out mitigation and adaptation strategies as long as they're given the tools and opportunities to be disaster resilient."
Several aspects of DRE were explored, including the need to assess risks as effectively as possible and to make good decisions about putting appropriate hazard management plans into action. Presenter John Rolfe, from Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, focused on the need to make risk information more accessible to more people so that we can understand better 'what might happen, what can it do to us, and what should we do'. 
Forum participants also learnt about current research projects that were developing easily accessible all-hazard DRE curriculum materials; lockdown procedures for schools; community development approaches to developing resilience in bushfire-prone neighbourhoods; designing, monitoring and evaluating evidence-based DRE programs; current research into child-centred disaster risk reduction; the Australian Red Cross's school-based Pillowcase Project; critical incident management programs for school leaders; and the DRE challenges and opportunities of working in remote communities.
It was gratifying to witness new collaborative partnerships being established and to witness participants' discussions about how they could enhance existing working relationships or combine energies and work on DRE together in the future.
Each DRANZSEN Group has identified specific actions or initiatives they would like to develop in the future. To become engaged in this work and to learn more about the outcomes of the state forums, consider They are also involved in a larger national conversation about DRE and how to best engage in it, through registering for the forthcoming National Annual DRANZSEN Forum which will take place in Sydney on Thursday 7 September. This event is free to attend and will provide unique opportunities for participants to learn more about DRE and to share their ideas and resources. 
Registration is essential and can be completed online here
If you would like to know more about AIDR, DRANZSEN Groups or disaster resilience education resources, please contact Liz at liz.tomazic@aidr.org.au. 

Minister Keenan launches Australian Disaster Resilience Handbook Collection – Managing the Floodplain: A guide to best practice in flood risk management in Australia

On 17th May 2017 the Minister for Justice and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter-Terrorism, Minister Keenan, launched the republished Australian Disaster Resilience Handbook 7 Collection at the 2017 Floodplain Management Conference in Newcastle. The Handbook 7 Collection – Managing the Floodplain is located on the Australian Disaster Resilience Knowledge Hub at https://knowledge.aidr.org.au/managing-the-floodplain-handbook-7/. It includes the following resources:

 

Handbook 7                 Managing the Floodplain: A Guide to Best Practice in Flood Risk Management in Australia

Guideline 7-1               Using the National Generic Brief for Flood Investigations to Develop Project Specific Specifications

Guideline 7-2               Flood Emergency Response Classification of the Floodplain

Guideline 7-3               Flood Hazard

Template 7-4                Technical Project Brief Template

Guideline 7-5                Flood Information to Support Land-use Planning

Guideline 7-6                Assessing Options and Service Levels for Treating Existing Risk

Practice Note 7-7         Considering Flooding in Land-use Planning Activities

The work to prepare the three new publications and update of five publications in this collection was undertaken by a team of experienced industry professionals through the National Flood Risk Advisory Group (NFRAG), with funding made available through the National Emergency Management Program (NEMP), under the auspices of the ANZEMC RAMMS Sub-Committee. The Handbook 7 Collection was approved for publication by the Director-General of Emergency Management Australia.

Handbook 7 and its supporting documents promote consideration and management of flood impacts to improve community flood resilience by:

  • limiting the health, social and financial costs of occupying the floodplain
  • increasing the sustainable benefits of using the floodplain
  • improving or maintaining ecosystems dependent on flood inundation.

The Handbook 7 Collection aims to provide a robust, flexible, and fit-for-purpose framework and supporting materials that can be used in an adaptive manner in management of flood risk within individual jurisdictions. The philosophy of the handbook collection enables users of Handbook 7 to build on the material with administrative and technical guidance to suit their needs rather than having to replicate this with equivalent jurisdictional guidance.

The Handbook can be viewed online or downloaded from the Australian Disaster Resilience Knowledge Hub at www.knowledge.aidr.org.au. For printed copies of any of the publications in the collection, please send your request to enquiries@aidr.org.au

Launch of new Disaster Resilience Knowledge Hub – shared responsibility in action

AIDR has launched the new Disaster Resilience Knowledge Hub – an invaluable source of expertise and information for government and communities working to prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters. The new website recognises that preparing our communities for natural disasters is a shared responsibility that is in the interest of every Australian.

The Knowledge Hub will provide emergency management agencies, businesses, volunteers and everyday Australians with a one-stop-shop for Australian disaster resilience information. Resources such as the Emergency Management Library and Australian Journal of Emergency Management collections, and disaster resilience and emergency management handbooks and manuals, can be accessed through the Hub.

Additional resources and information will be added regularly, including guest collections from emergency services agencies and relevant national and international organisations. This will be an invaluable resource for students, teachers, researchers, historians and emergency services staff and volunteers to better understand lessons from the past and ways to mitigate risks into the future.

The Knowledge Hub can be accessed at www.knowledge.aidr.org.au.

AIDR releases Growth and Development Strategy 2017-2019

AIDR has released its Growth and Development Strategy outlining its strategic direction until 2019. The document outlines AIDR's role in contributing to a more disaster resilient Australia and building sustained behavioural change through our core activities. This includes the growth of the Australia's Disaster Resilience Body of Knowledge, connecting stakeholders to develop national principles and practices, and investing in people through training, professional development and education for young people. Download the document here

AIDR celebrates first birthday

The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR) celebrates its first birthday today (18 November 2016). AIDR was launched to deliver a fresh approach to the delivery of emergency management education, professional development and knowledge sharing for a stronger, disaster-resilient Australia.

In its first year the Institute focused on collaborating with stakeholders from across Australia to develop a professional development program, improving disaster resilience education for young people, and reimagining the national disaster resilience body of knowledge. These start-up activities have already begun to inform how the emergency management sector understands and practices resilience through the preparedness, response and recovery phases of disaster.

From 2017 AIDR is rolling out a suite of programs that further explore emerging areas of disaster resilience knowledge and provide growth opportunities to the workforce. Among the initiatives is the recently launched Resilience Ambassadors Program— a one-year program for staff or volunteers at disaster resilience organisations to strengthen their leadership skills and become champions of resilience within their organisation and region.

Director of AIDR, Dr John Bates said: “The first year of AIDR has been a fantastic journey as we’ve seen the idea of cooperatively building and sharing disaster resilience knowledge grow within and among agencies, communities, government, research organisations and education institutions. AIDR has created innovative ways to engage in this space through the revitalised Australian Journal of Emergency Management; beginning the renewal of the national disaster resilience handbook collection and the soon-to-be-relaunched Disaster Resilience Knowledge Hub. We have enjoyed having the ability to invest in developing the skills and knowledge of people from staff to volunteers to enhance their leadership skills, build their understanding of resilience and influence their practices to support their work in building safer, more resilient communities.”

Emergency Management Australia Director-General Mark Crosweller said he was very pleased with AIDR’s progress and was looking forward to its continued growth.

“AIDR has done an enormous amount in 12 months to establish itself and get ready for what I think will make quite a profound difference to the emergency management and resilience community in years to come,” Mr Crosweller said.

“A central repository of knowledge for emergency management is really what’s going to drive AIDR in the years to come, and I think it’s quite exciting.

“We have a propensity to have to re-learn things in emergency management.  It will be wonderful when we have a substantial body of knowledge, along with a framework and a point of reference, so that we can properly adopt those lessons and embed them into our organisations – and more importantly, our culture.” 

Local councils, a seaside school and retirement village among national disaster resilience award finalists

Innovative approaches to disaster resilience taken by a retirement village, two local councils and a rural seaside primary school has seen them selected as finalists in the 2016 Resilient Australia Awards.

Sponsored by the Attorney-General’s Department and in conjunction with the states and territories, the national awards recognise individuals, groups or organisations that demonstrate excellence and innovation in helping communities be better prepared and more disaster resilient. The national awards ceremony is hosted by the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience.

The awards are in three categories: national (covering community, business and government); schools; and photography.

The initiative of Townsville’s Carlyle Gardens Retirement Village residents in establishing a disaster management group to assist the 700-strong community to prepare, respond to, and recover from cyclones and other disasters has resulted in it reaching the finals of the awards.

A large complex comprising more than 450 detached homes and duplexes in Townsville, Carlyle Gardens lost power for seven days when tropical cyclone Yasi hit in 2011.

Yarra City Council in Melbourne is also a finalist through its campaign to reduce the vulnerability to heatwaves of its culturally and linguistically diverse residents. The campaign was aimed at the municipality’s migrant communities living in social and public housing around Collingwood.

Sunshine Coast Council (SCC) reached the finals through the development of an innovative disaster hub that delivers real-time information on disasters to reduce public risk.

The SCC Disaster Hub gathers intelligence from numerous sources to improve decision making for the council, first-response agencies and community members. The disaster information is accessible from any internet-connected device.

Anglesea Primary School in Victoria has been recognised for the Anglesea Fire Education Partnership and its ‘Survive and Thrive Program’.

Developed through the school’s partnership with the local fire brigade, the program empowers students with knowledge of bushfire behavior. It also encourages students to lead community-based bushfire education with the aim of driving generational change and increasing community resilience.

Dr John Bates, Director of the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience said the award finalists were all outstanding examples of organisations taking initiative and preparing for disasters well in advance.

“Each of the projects presented by the finalists have involved extensive community engagement and shared responsibility and these elements lie at the core of disaster resilience,” he said.

“There is a real need for a cooperative national effort to enhance Australia's capacity to withstand and recover from emergencies and disasters.

“Disaster resilience is all about maintaining our way of life, our communities and our environment and the Resilient Australia Awards acknowledge the organisations and individuals that lead by example.”

Finalists from across Australia will gather in Melbourne on November 17 for the announcement of the winners of the 2016 Resilient Australia Awards.

The awards coincide with the first anniversary of the establishment of the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience.

AIDR Annual Report 2015-2016

AIDR has released its Annual Report 2015-2016, outlining its progress in developing and implementing disaster resilience programs across the first eight months of operation. The Annual Report can be downloaded here

Inaugural DRASEN National Annual Forum held in Melbourne

On Wednesday 27 July, AIDR hosted 47 delegates from a diverse range of organisations at the inaugural DRASEN National Annual Forum which took place in Melbourne. Participants gathered together at the event to share ideas on how to develop strong leadership and guidance for implementation of AIDR’s disaster resilience education strategy. Representatives from New Zealand, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria gathered for five hours to start planning for future activities.

Organisations represented included:
Departments of Education – Vic, Qld and WA; Catholic Education Offices – Melbourne, Bendigo, Sale and Ballarat; Associations of Independent Schools – Vic, Qld, SA, NT, Vic and Qld; Geography Teacher’s Associations – Australia, SA, Vic; Victorian Primary Schools – Strathewen PS; Education Services Australia; MFB Victoria; SA Country Fire Service; NSW Rural Fire Service; CFA; NT Emergency Service; Qld Fire & Emergency Services; Local Government – Yarra City Council; Bureau of Meteorology; Life Saving Victoria; Surf Lifesaving Australia; Save the Children Australia; Australian Red Cross; Scouts Victoria; and RMIT.

Dr John Bates, AIDR Director, welcomed attendees to a ‘long-term journey’ and spoke about our shared responsibility and inter-connectedness in regard to the resilience of young people and their communities. He emphasised that although risk management is an important part of building resilience in young people, other aspects include having a plan, the ability to make good decisions and minimising damage to self and others. Above all, it is about empowering children and enabling them to develop life skills.

Delegates discussed AIDR’s Disaster Resilience Education Strategy and the ways in which its three levels of involvement could function most effectively and achieve its aims. Dr Bates emphasised AIDR’s intention to establish and maintain effective communication back and forth between the three groups so that the efforts of each were supported and aided by the others. Several members of the national DRESG strategic reference group, including Sally Randall-Simpson (Australian Red Cross), Jane Hayward (Strathewen Primary School) and Dr Briony Towers (RMIT), attended the Forum and shared some of their experiences of participation in the group. They each recounted their thoughts about DRESG’s potential to link research findings to practice, especially given that compelling evidence from overseas is now contributing to development of new education methodologies. Advocacy to government on behalf of educators was regarded as one of the most important functions of the strategic group. 

Keynote speaker, Dr Briony Towers (RMIT) has researched children’s knowledge of vulnerability and resilience to natural hazards and disasters in Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia. She is particularly interested in how the socio-cultural context influences children’s knowledge and action for disaster risk reduction and resilience. Her current research is focused on the design, implementation and evaluation of disaster resilience education programs in Australia.
Dr Towers spoke about the research work that has contributed to the development of a disaster resilience education practice framework and its implications for the Australian emergency management sector. Participants from the education sector provided valuable input into how the framework could be applied in school settings across various curriculum areas.

In the final session, delegates worked together on a draft DRASEN Work Plan, providing input on proposed activities and tasks. To draw the day to a conclusion, plans to run state/territory forums in the near future were agreed to be put forward to the delegates in a post-Forum survey. 

AIDR Disaster Resilience Education program update

AIDR’s disaster resilience education program is well underway, with two events currently in the wings.

The Disaster Resilience Education Strategic Reference Group (DRESG), formed in May 2016, has met via teleconference and meets face-to-face for the first time in Melbourne on 29 June 2016.

The group consists of participants from around Australia including Professor Kevin Ronan (Central Queensland University), Dr Briony Towers (RMIT), Associate Professor Joseph Zayda (Australian Catholic University), Julie Edwards and Lucy Bastecki (Attorney-General’s Department), Jane Hayward (Principal, Strathewen Primary School), Gwynne Brennan (CFA, on behalf of DFES WA), Sally Randall-Simpson (Australia Red Cross), Amanda Leck (AFAC) and Dr John Bates and Dr Liz Tomazic (AIDR).

We anticipate participants will be eager to take part in robust discussions following presentations by Dr Bates on what schools need to help them embrace resilience as a fundamental belief and practice, while Professor Ronan and Dr Towers will be providing models for introducing resilience education into a school culture.

The DRESG members have been invited to share highlights of their organisations’ current resilience education activities and provide exemplars of sustainable disaster resilience education that they are aware of in their own neighbourhood schools.

The day’s activities will culminate in the reference group’s construction of an action plan for the coming 12 to 18 months. DRESG aims to collaborate with agencies and schools to enable the delivery of sustainable, evidence-supported and effective disaster resilient practices that align with the Australian curriculum and to support teachers so that they feel confident to deliver effective disaster resilience education.

Planning is also well underway for the inaugural National Disaster Resilient Australia School Education Network (DRASEN) Forum to be held in Melbourne 27 July 2016. A keynote address on aspects of disaster resilience education, particularly potential frameworks for planning, will be delivered by Dr Briony Towers. Representatives from organisations from around Australia have been invited to attend. We will be welcoming delegates from various states/territories’ independent schools associations, Departments of Education, CFA, SES, local government authorities, subject teachers’ associations, Surf Lifesaving Australia, Rural Fire & Emergency Services, with more organisations and agencies still expected to register their interest.

The DRASEN state and territory forums are the central element of AIDR’s Disaster Resilience Education Program. The forum in July will provide DRASEN the chance for feedback on strategies under consideration by DRESG. It will also enable opportunities for discussion and planning at a national and regional level.

In order to enable broad state/territory participation, DRASEN forums will occur five times a year in central and accessible locations across Australia. A calendar of future dates and locations is currently being compiled.

Scholarships for Volunteers

The Hon Michael Keenan MP, Minister for Justice, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter Terrorism has announced a new $1 million Australian Government scholarship fund to boost education development opportunities for emergency management volunteers.

AIDR to participate in MUDRI Forum, 14 April 2016

AIDR will be participating in the first MUDRI Forum for 2016 and has sponsored the participation of a number of volunteers in this event.  The Forum will be held at Monash University.

AIDR to present at AFAC 2016, 30 Aug - 1 Sep 2016

AIDR will be at the AFAC 2106 Conference in Brisbane from 30 August - 1 September, 2016. As well as exhibiting at the Exhibition, AIDR Director Dr John Bates will present on Day 3 of the Conference on 'Developing a disaster resilient Australia'. For more information about the Conference and the Exhibition visit www.afacconference.com.au

AIDR to present at ANZDMC Conference, 30-31 May 2016

AIDR's Director will be presenting in the resilience section of the 2016 Australian & New Zealand Disaster & Emergency Management Conference - EARTH: FIRE AND RAIN on the Gold Coast on 30-31 May 2016.

AIDR launches new website

AIDR's new website was launched today.  We encourage you to have a look through the information on the site to learn more about the services and products that AIDR provides and to sign up for our newsletter to keep up to date in our activities and events.