It’s been a busy few months, and I’ve gone to ground a little bit while having to juggle many, many balls, and not all of them keeping in the air. One of the exciting new projects I am involved in is Building the Disaster Resilience of the Homelessness Community . We’ve partnered up with the fabulous Dr Danielle Every, from Central Queensland University, who has done some great piloting work in this space.
My interest stems from a conversation long ago with my former colleague, Sharna Mckechnie in Western Australia. She spoke to me about Red Cross’ CBD SOup Patrol, and the new CBD evacuation plan, preparedness and how could you bring the three things together. I remember we both agreed that it was a pretty tough area to look at. There was an old basket that it was consigned to.
I saw Danielle present a couple of years ago in Queensland at the ANZDEMC conference. What stuck me, and challenged me, was the notion that homelessness was not just rough sleepers, but was often well hidden; people experiencing housing insecurity, couch surfers etc. what I wasn’t aware of was that most homeless people were younger, and children figured highly in the homelessness community. It made me recall a situation were we dealing with after the 2003 Mt Buffalo fires, where one of the Chalet works was found living in her car down in the valley, after the chalet was closed due to access issues, She had been quickly thrown into homelessness as a result of the emergency, but was hidden from view.
Danielle and I struck up a conversation, quickly realising that this area was well and truly in the too hard basket for many agencies. At the end, we said we much stay in touch and it would be great to do more together. From there, we pulled together a National Emergency Management Projects application (well, she did most of it), it was successful, and here we are!
We hope to better understand the issues the homeless community experience in building disaster resilience face, as well as the agencies that support them, the emergency services and recovery agencies. From there we look to develop tools to help build resilience.
The first stage is a national survey to get an understanding of the issues providers might face (feel free to complete the survey or pass it onto someone working in the sector). From there a number of case studies will be developed, with one on one interviews and focus groups. The locations we are looking at include a inner city/CBD, as well as some rural areas.
It is a fascinating piece of work, pushing out into the margins.