NFPs Not Prepared for Extreme Weather Events
Thursday, 13th October 2016 at 11:07 am
Welfare peak body, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), said community organisations were still poorly prepared to respond to extreme weather events and the significant impact on their own operations.
Research carried out by ACOSS in 2013 found that 25 per cent of not-for-profit organisations would be likely to close permanently if seriously impacted by an extreme weather event.
The report said community service organisations (CSOs) were highly vulnerable and not well prepared to respond to climate change and extreme weather impacts to physical infrastructure and that this underlying organisational vulnerability also worsened the vulnerability of people experiencing poverty and inequality to climate change.
“With the devastating South Australian storms, which left the entire state without power and a trail of destruction across Victoria and western New South Wales… it is timely to reflect our vulnerability to disasters, as well as the critical role that the community sector plays in supporting people and communities to respond to and recover from them,” ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.
“Such disruptions to community service delivery can have devastating consequences for people and communities who access our services for support.
“There are many examples of fantastic, community-led disaster support that have been documented over many years from affected communities across the country – from the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires to the extensive floods across eastern Australia in 2011 and the Tasmanian bushfires in 2013.
“With extreme weather events due to become more frequent and intense as a result of climate change, it’s critical for community organisations to take immediate action to build their disaster resilience, so that we can continue to deliver essential services to people and communities at the times they need them most.
“The benchmarking tool has six steps each with its own specific resources to help [organisations] build capacity and prepare for disasters and emergencies.”
The ACOSS warning comes as a new Red Cross report calls for a radical change in the management of natural disasters like recent storms across Australia and Hurricane Matthew hitting the Americas.
The report said disasters killed 32,550 people last year, including 16 Australians, and affected 108 million people worldwide. Over the past 10 years, 1.9 billion people have been affected.
The World Disasters Report 2016 argued that investing in disaster resilience would save lives and money.
“This report shows that disasters must be dealt with differently. If we invest more in preparing and mitigating risks, we can save lives and minimise the huge costs of recovery,” Australian Red Cross CEO Judy Slatyer said.
“There’s growing evidence that death and injury is reduced by investing in early warnings and preparing for disasters. Last year’s global death toll is less than half of the average for the past 10 years.
“Red Cross is calling for a significant national increase in investment in disaster risk reduction and community resilience.”