New Guide Puts Needs of Kids First in Disasters
1 July 2013 at 3:09 pm
A national guide which puts the needs of children at the forefront of natural disaster and emergency planning, will help local councils across Australia plan for their diverse needs during times of fires, cyclones or floods.
Victorian Minister for Community Services, Mary Wooldridge said the new Planning Guide for Local Government: Emergency Management Planning for Children and Young People, was a first for Australia and would offer local councils practical advice on how to recognise and include specific needs in their local emergency management plans.
The guide was launched by the Victorian Government in partnership with the Federal Government, which was developed with funding from the National Emergency Management Projects’ program.
“Our children and youth make up about a quarter of the Australian population, and their specific needs must be catered for during and after an emergency,” Wooldridge said.
“Young Australians have their own unique physiological, psychological and developmental needs that require targeted and specialised interventions to help ensure the best opportunity for a successful recovery.
“The Guide will be a useful planning tool for local councils and other organisations working with disaster-affected children and young people.”
The guide suggests that despite their distinct needs, children are grouped with the aged, people with a disability and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
“Including children and young people as singular groups in emergency management plans will ensure that actions and activities can be developed to address their specific needs,” the report stated.
“It will also ensure that appropriate personnel and organisations with experience in working with children and young people are involved in preparing plans, and are invited onto planning committees.”
The guide highlights a number of focus areas including:
- Evacuation or relief centres must be able to accommodate the needs of children and young people before and after an emergency.
- Unaccompanied children should be rapidly identified and their urgent needs met in the immediate aftermath of an emergency or disaster.
- If children have been separated from their families, they must be reunited with their primary carers as quickly as possible.
- The needs of children and young people with disabilities should be considered in evacuation centre planning.
- Early recovery and longer-term recovery
The guide aims to help place children and young people at the core of policies and plans that build community resilience to emergency and disaster events.
The Emergency Management Planning for Children and Young People guide can be downloaded here.