Diversity in disaster contemporary directions: Opening.

First up is the keynote speaker, Professor Maureen Fordham, from IRDR Centre for Gender Research. Maureen is a legend in disaster management research. She was responsible for setting up the Gender and Disaster Network, which was founded in 1998, and as she said, its 20th anniversary is no cause for celebration, as she had hoped to have put the network out  of business.

Some of the extraordinary work of the network was to get groups of people named in the Sendai Framework, rather than just “people”, otherwise they are invisible.

She also talked about the use of aggregated data. but to use sex, instead of gender, means that you exclude people who do not identify as either sex.

It was interesting her comment on rights based approaches rather than needs based, which she suggested that is more charity based.

She noted, that Australia is much further ahead than the UK in the inclusion of gender in policy and practice. She reflected on the change in language over the decades  from the 1990s “Vulnerability”, “Man Made”, “Natural Disaster” to the 2000s, women are a problem, and they have these needs” We need to protect them and rescue then. Little by little capacity and capability came into the conversation. Women, like other groups, may be made vulnerable by society, but have capacity.

2010s, saw the more diverse language, focus on women’s leadership, don’t just add women and stir, but truly be involved. A focus on gender based violence on visibility and priority.

She asked us to think outside the box, think intersectionally, look across the silos. Sometimes people are put in a box, and are then not viewed beyond the box.

We know that men and women perceive risk and respond differently (women are more risk averse). We heard of this in Black Saturday, where decisions made by men, saw the deaths of both men and women.

Good to see the IRDR Centre for Gender and Disaster , 2 of the 5 pillars, focusing on engineering and infrastructure, and transformative technology.

She concluded with a plea on inclusivity, right and justice. its not always about women. It’s no always and only about vulnerability, and it’s not always and only about blame. Its about fairness.

Next up, was a panel with Craig Lapsley from EMV, Susie Reid from Women’s Health North east, Toby Kent from City of Melbourne, Emma King from VCOSS, and Steve O’Malley from MFB.

They were posed with the question: How important is diversity. Emma King made the point that disasters are hugely discriminatory, and one size does not fit all, and needs to be considered before, during and after. The morwell open cut fire was a case example, where people may not have had the capacity to move out etc. The community sector is trusted, whereas government agencies may not be.

Craig Lapsley, focused on starting from a safe place, before the disaster. It can’t be seen as a sector issue, its a community issue.We learn the lessons, but need to make it sustainable and embedded. He was surprised that some people don’t get community, and others do

Susie Reid focused on using simple language, before, during and after, and fairness. Its not about top down or bottom up, but its about empowerment.

Toby Kent spoke about cities are fundamentally about people, but we plan them as if people don’t matter. Think about diversity as weakness, rather than strength and capacity.  Resilience is about understanding where we are vulnerable, and supported. Not just before, during and after, but in the everyday. Shocks and stresses are important. When the shocks happened, it will play out in those most stressed.

Steve O’Malley, self deprecatingly called himself the Vice Chancellor of the University of Fraud. But as Craig points out, he is a very influential person within the organisation. Its not about uniforms, that is important, but influence.

A comment from the floor, spoke about moving the language from victim to survivor, which Kate Brady has written about.

Mary Farrow, in her typically direct way, made comment on the “oh no, not her” comment, should be worn as a badge of pride. Means we are getting under people’s skin, and making change. She asked, “How do organisations advocate, but not lose their funding” Toby made the point that, if you are organised to get funding, you have capacity to be organised and thrive.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”><a href=”https://twitter.com/MaryFarrow4?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@MaryFarrow4</a&gt; asks “when we talk about including the community, there’s a lot of obstacles. Many groups are afraid to speak out. How do we empower those groups?” <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/DiversityinDisaster?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#DiversityinDisaster</a&gt; conference</p>&mdash; VCOSS LIVE (@VCOSSlive) <a href=”https://twitter.com/VCOSSlive/status/986040127255228417?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>April 17, 2018</a></blockquote>

A terrifically range of diverse  viewpoints.





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