Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, Senator the Hon. Linda Reynolds today launched the Gender and Disaster (GAD) Pod's new research report into long-term disaster resilience.
The research draws on experiences of disaster survivors following events such as the Black Saturday and Ash Wednesday bushfires, to better understand resilience and its effects on long-term health and wellbeing.
"Disaster experiences and the way the immediate aftermath is managed have a profound effect on people's resilience in the long-term. Individuals – and sometimes whole communities – face losses and difficult times ahead," Assistant Minister Reynolds said.
"Natural hazards are a familiar experience for many Australians – but the economic and emotional wounds can last long after our homes and businesses are rebuilt.
"Events over recent weeks and months go to show that this work is more important than ever. It is crucial that all sectors of society continue to work together to make our communities safer, stronger and better prepared."
Executive Officer of Women's Health Goulburn North East, Susie Reid, said most participants spoke of triggers for unease or panic in the smell of smoke or dry gum leaves, helicopters overhead, rising floodwater or flood warnings and Code Red announcements.
"Still, years on, the wider unaffected community continues to minimise and misunderstand the long-term consequences of disaster," Ms Reid said.
'Asking "Aren't you over it yet?" infers survivors are not resilient and conveys a judgement of failure. For many, there is "no getting over it".
Assistant Minister Reynolds said the Australian Government had made a significant investment in Australia's natural disaster preparedness and community resilience.
"We are investing in our national emergency capability through the government's Preparing Australia Package – with support for new and emerging warning technologies and the Prepared Communities Fund that supports initiatives to strengthen resilience," Assistant Minister Reynolds said.
This research project is a joint initiative between Women's Health Goulburn North East, Women's Health in the North and Monash University Disaster Resilience Initiative, with significant funding from the Australian Government and Emergency Management Victoria through the National Partnership Agreement on Disaster Resilience.
More details about this research are available from the GAD Pod website.