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What a disaster!

By Russell Grenning - posted Tuesday, 19 September 2017


As we head towards what threatens to be a highly dangerous bush fire season, the Victorian Government is on the front foot putting together an innovative strategy to address one of the major failings of the existing emergency response protocols.

Some may imagine that this means recruiting and training more firefighters, some may think this means getting more modern equipment and some may assume this means developing a rapid response alert system to notify people of impending dangers. Well, they would be wrong. There is, in the view of the Victorian Government, a far more important disaster management priority – the development of LGBTI (lesian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex) inclusive emergency protocols.

This work, which is deemed to be vitally important, has been going on for three years and will be informed by an anonymous survey, now closed, of LGBTI people and Emergency Management personnel. This survey was launched with the headline, "Living LGBTI during Disaster" on the Victorian Government's Premier and Cabinet website.

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There we learned that:

This project aims to learn about the experience and needs of LGBTI communities in Victoria. The findings will inform the development of Emergency Management (EM) policies and procedures that reflect LGBTI-inclusive practice. The research project will be managed by the Gender and Disaster Pod, in partnership with GLHV@ARCSHS. It is funded by the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet and guided by an Advisory Group.

This project is, according to the explanatory introduction, "Led by the GAD POD & GLHV@ARCSHS La Trobe University".

According to the La Trobe University website this is:

an independent state government-funded lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) health and well-being policy and resource unit. It's mission is to 'enhance and promote the health and well-being of LGBTI Victorians and to improve the quality of health care they receive.

This is the same outfit that did such trail-blazing and agenda-setting work on the Safe Schools program which so irritated parents and which was led by the outspoken Marxist and LGBTI activist Roz Ward. Ms Ward and her aggressive approach copped such a public backlash that the otherwise wholly sympathetic Victorian Government was forced to cancel its contract with La Trobe University last December cutting loose Ms Ward, the policy architect, and bringing the program in-house. Ms Ward parted company with the university in June.

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According to the LGBTI magazine Star Observer, the Victorian Goverment began this work "Following recent research suggesting that disaster impact can be worse for LGBTI people". The magazine revealed that a report by the Gender and Disaster Pod had shown that LGBTI people had "additional privacy concerns and risk and experience of discrimination" during natural disasters.

Sadly, shocking natural disasters – devastating bushfires, raging floods and fierce cyclones – seem to be increasing and Australia is blessed with professional fire and rescue organisations and teams of selfless volunteers who respond without any hesitation to save vulnerable people and provide them with essential basic care and protection.

Church based charities – think, for example, of the Salvation Army – are always in the front line. Their only motivation is care, compassion and the well-being of their fellow citizens. Rescuing people and getting them to safe havens where they can find respite from the terrible threat of fire, flood and high wind is their fundamental objective.

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About the Author

Russell Grenning is a retired political adviser and journalist who began his career at the ABC in 1968 and subsequently worked for the then Brisbane afternoon daily, The Telegraph and later as a columnist for The Courier Mail and The Australian.

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