Community Organisations Stepping Up
The community sector provides essential services and advocates for social justice. Ensuring our organisations are disaster resilient is critical to ensuring we are able to perform these roles into the future. However, community organisations are generally not well prepared for disasters and emergencies.
Community organisations need to step up up to their role in building organisations and communities that are resilient in the face of disasters and emergencies.
The report Adapting the Community Sector for Climate Extremes , found that the community sector is highly vulnerable and unprepared for extreme weather events and natural disasters. At present, our sector has very limited ability to 'bounce back' or survive a disaster, let alone 'bounce forward'. For example, after an extreme weather event which severely damaged their service centres or offices, 50% of organsiations would be unable to operate for at least a week. More seriously, 25% of organisations reported that damage caused by an extreme weather event could lead to their permanent closure.
What would happen to your organisation if your buildings were destroyed or inaccessible? Could you continue to deliver services? How quickly?
Would you be able to deliver services without electricity, water or telecommunications?
Imagining a community without community organisations presents a very bleak image. The consequences our organisations being unable to provide services in the aftermath of a disaster or emergency are dire. They not only impact people who were alread experiencing hardship prior to the disaster, but also those who are pushed into poverty in the aftermath. Some of the specific consequences of community service failure include:
- People will be at increased risk of homelessness, financial hardship, hunger and physical and mental ill-health;
- Those with pre-existing mental conditions may suffer a deterioration in their condition (including an increased risk of suicide;
- Women and children already exposed may be at increased risk of experiencing domestic and family violence; and
- In a worst-case scenario, people with high-level personal and health care needs and those experiencing homelessness may be at increased risk of death.