Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) and Victoria University (VU) will establish a National Centre of Excellence in Young People and Disasters to empower young Australians to be active agents of change in emergency management.

The Centre, with establishment funding from the Australian Government’s Disaster Ready Fund, will be based in Victoria with a national scope. It will be a collaborative hub for research, expertise, and programs for young people to be actively involved in decision-making and management of disasters such as bushfires or floods.

YACVic CEO Katherine Ellis said the centre is “a huge win for young people and their communities.”

“We know young people are deeply concerned about issues of climate change and disaster, and have valuable ideas and capabilities to contribute. They have the strongest stake in the future, yet they are not consistently engaged in disaster efforts.” 

The Centre will build on a wealth of work already underway across the youth, community and emergency management sectors.

“We will continue to work together to flip the narrative from young people only as victim/survivors, to one of young people as empowered, active agents of change,” said Ms Ellis.

VU Associate Professor Fiona MacDonald said the first priority of the Centre would be to map existing evidence, and identify gaps in innovative research and practice.

“We have a unique opportunity to support young people’s engagement in disaster management at local, state and national levels,” she said.

“The growing incidence and severity of disasters around the world has amplified the need for increased shared responsibility in disaster management with all members of our communities, especially young people.”

The Centre will undertake crucial research to inform policy and advocacy and build the capacity and resilience of the youth sector, communities and emergency management agencies. This will include practical information and resources to involve young people and build their skills.

Ella Cheeseman, a 20-year-old from Indigo Shire where she now works as a Young Peer Worker, believes that platforming young people’s involvement benefits the entire community.

“As a rural young person now working in disaster resilience, having young people part of this conversation is imperative. We need to empower young people to drive change in our communities, by building skills and creating opportunities. We want to learn today, in order to lead tomorrow.”

The Centre of Excellence in Young People and Disasters is the culmination of three and a half years of active and expert work in these areas, and continues a strong partnership between YACVic and VU.

This work include the following projects:

  • Future Proof: Young People, Disaster Recovery and (Re)building Communities (2022-24)
  • Umbrella flood recovery (2022-23)
  • The Activators program (2020-21)
  • The Evidence from Experience report produced as part of the black summer bushfire consultations for the Inspector-General for Emergency Management (2020)
  • A Seat at the Table and Speaking Up with the Victorian Department of Education and Emergency Management Victoria (then Bushfire Recovery Victoria) (2020-22)

Katherine Ellis (YACVic) and Associate Professor Fiona MacDonald (VU) are available for interview.

Media Contacts

Katia Pellicciotta (she/her) – YACVic Media and Communications Coordinator, 0498 730 553 or

Ann Marie Angebrandt – Victoria University Media Adviser, 0401 100 576 or

About Youth Affairs Council Victoria

Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) is the peak body and leading advocate for young people aged 12–25 and youth workers in Victoria. Our vision is that young people are active, visible and valued in their communities.

About Victoria University

Victoria University is committed to working with partners in research. At VU, research impact is about more than knowledge, but ethical knowledge, and more than strengths, but solutions. These values will underpin and inform the creation of the Centre of Excellence in Young People and Disasters.