Building a roadmap for inclusive disaster risk reduction in Australian communities

02 June 2021

Introduction As a signatory to the Sendai Framework, Australia has committed to ensuring that the needs and voices of people with disability are included in disaster risk management and removing the barriers that stop people with disability from engaging with disaster risk reduction activities. In 2015, the pathways to achieving this and their feasibility were entirely unclear. Purpose This paper shares Australia’s progress on developing and advancing Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DIDRR) at the local community level through cross-sector collaboration and grassroots innovation. Method Over a 5-year period, this participatory research brought emergency managers together with people with disability and the community-based services that support them. Together we collected, analysed and interpreted data, worked out change strategies, implemented them, evaluated how they worked and repeated the cycle over a series of projects. Findings The scope of this research encompassed inclusive community engagement and capacity development; combining practice wisdom and research evidence to develop DIDRR policy and practices that leave nobody behind. DIDRR progressed in three stages including: (a) identifying the scope for DIDRR and giving direction to emergency managers; (b) defining roles and responsibilities for people with disability and the services that support them; and (c) building cross sector mechanisms for sharing responsibility. Discussion An integrated approach to knowledge creation and dissemination offered an authentic way to value and combine scientific knowledge with “local knowledge” that is gained from experience and built from the ground up. Central to building a roadmap for DIDRR was the co-creation of tools guiding its implementation. Implications The co-designed products that emerged and are currently being used to translate and scale DIDR practices across Australian communities managing in the context of the 2019–20 Black Summer bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic.