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Young people are uniquely impacted by disasters, often affecting work, study, and the critical resources like phone reception, internet and roads which keep young people connected to their communities.
Find out more about how young people are affected by different disasters below, and resources we have developed to ensure you include and engage young people effectively and meaningfully in disaster response.
Preparing for a disaster
Disasters can happen at different times and in all different parts of Victoria. It's important to know how to prepare if there's a disaster in our area.
Making an emergency plan
Floods can happen in all different parts of Victoria.
As disabled young people it’s important to know what to do if there is a flood in our area.
What is an emergency plan?
- An emergency plan is a set of steps to follow if there is a flood in your area.
- Make sure the plan is accessible to everyone in your family. Eg. Have an audio recording of the plan or have an easy English version.
- Family, friends and support workers can help you with your emergency plan.
- Practice your emergency plan with your family so that you all understand what to do in a flood or disaster.
What should be in my emergency plan?
Your emergency plan should tell you what you need to do in an emergency, where you will go, and when you will go.
What will I do?
- Take action when you know there is going to be floods in your area.
- For example, move items on the floor to somewhere higher so they will be safe if water comes into the house.
- Turn off all power points and unplug electrical items so you don’t get shocked if water comes into the house
Where will I go?
- Think about your access needs when you decide where you will go if there is a flood or other disaster. For example, if you have sensory difficulties, it might be better to stay with a friend or family member rather than go to a refuge centre because refuge centres can be very crowded and might be overwhelming.
- Your plan can have several options for where you might go in a flood or other disaster. For example, if the road to get to one place is closed, you can go to a place that’s in a different direction.
When will I go?
- If there is going to be floods in your area, leave as early as you can. For example, you might need to leave the night before it is going to flood so that you have enough time to get to a safe place.
- Do not wait until you can see flood water. By the time you can see floodwater, it might not be safe to leave.
Making an emergency kit
Floods and other emergencies can happen anywhere in Victoria.
It’s important for disabled young people to be ready for a flood or other emergency.
To best prepare, have an emergency kit.
What is an emergency kit?
- An emergency kit is a pack of the most important things you will need to take if you have to leave your house in a flood or another type of emergency.
- Your family, friends, or support workers might be able to help you make your kit
- Keep your emergency kit somewhere you can easily get to it.
What should I have in my emergency kit?
- Water and snacks, spare clothes, a first aid kit and important documents.
- Important documents: passport or birth certificate.
- Items to help you stay calm.
- Items you need because of your disability. For example, a wheelchair charger, hearing aids or communication boards Items for pets:
- If you have pets or a service animal, include things that they might need in your emergency kit. For example, a leash, blankets, food, a water bowl and paperwork to show that you have a service animal.
- You can also put some items into waterproof bags in the container to keep them extra safe. For example, a phone charger.
Disaster recovery takes time. Support is available even much later down the track.
Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment
- This is a lump sum payment to help those 16 years and older who have experienced major damage to their property or other assets
- $1000 per adult, $400 for each child younger than 16
Applications close 16 June 2023
There are many organisations willing and able to help whether you need groceries, some new clothes or just someone to talk to, they’ve got you covered.
- You can connect with local organisations able to assess your needs, so you can access GIVIT’s donated support
- Their ‘Give List’ includes a number of charities providing assistance to flood-affected communities
- A website that connects people who are in crisis with the services they need right now and nearby
Who you can call
- Flood recovery hotline – 1800 560 760
- St Vincent De Paul – 13 18 12 (option 2)
- Australian Red Cross – 1800 733 276
- Salvation Army – 1800 825 955
Mental health support
Floods can be immensely stressful and anxious.
Managing your emotions during an emergency can help you think clearly about decisions and ensure you are able to respond quickly and safely.
If you’re a young person impacted by floods, there is support available.
- For help with psychologically preparing for flood: Preparing for Floods, Australian Psychological Society.
- For an online and phone counselling service: Recovering after a national disaster, Lifeline 13 11 14, open 24/7
- For an online and phone counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25: Coping with natural disasters, Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800, open 24/7
- For looking after your mental health following a disaster: Beyond Blue
- For coping with the stress of natural disasters: Headspace
- For managing pre-existing mental health issues during a disaster and recovery: Sane Australia
- For understanding trauma through disaster recovery: Sane Australia
- For additional fact sheets and a podcast: Rural Adversity Mental Health Program
- For youth workers: Phoenix Australia
- For additional resources: Live4Life
As someone who is the designated ‘family translator’, it can be hard to know where to find reliable information for everyone in your language.
There are a range of relevant translated resources that you can access.
Live radars and warnings
Our work on bushfires was informed by the YACVic Youth Bushfire Recovery Working Group, consisting of 12 young people aged 12-25, living in rural and regional communities in eastern Victoria impacted by the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires.
Trauma Informed Language and Image Use Guide
This guide aims to provide media and communications teams with evidence-based recommendations for using language and imagery that are respectful, accurate, and trauma-informed. The suggestions are tailored to Australian readers and young audiences.
New research: Agents of Change in Bushfire Recovery
A journal article published in the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, by YACVic staff and a young person involved in the YACVic Rural Activators program.
Bushfires and natural disasters have a significant impact on young people and risk reduction strategies have largely focused on addressing their vulnerability and mitigating the effects of trauma. In the 21st century practitioners, researchers and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030, are calling for young people to become ‘agents of change’ in disaster management. Our research with young people affected by Australia's 2019–2020 Black Summer bushfires highlighted their frustrations at the limited opportunities to be actively involved in relief and recovery, and their concerns about the combined impact of the climate crisis and bushfires. Their focus aligns with a shift in young people's acts of citizenship and community involvement as they seek opportunities to engage with issues that impact them and their future.
Young people's engagement in a youth-focused, empowerment-oriented, animal-welfare program in the Australian state of Victoria, The Activators, demonstrates how young people join the dots between bushfire recovery, the climate crisis and environmental issues to undertake local acts of citizenship. This article focuses on young people's experiences and a young person's powerful narrative of, Loss, urgency, grief and loneliness. We draw on the challenges and opportunities of young people's individual and collective experience of the program. Our analysis investigates how a programmatic intervention empowered young people to become agents of change through acts of citizenship in their local communities. Adopting similar approaches would enable young people to be actively involved in disaster recovery, prevention and response, across all levels of planning and community engagement.
Resource: A Seat at the Table
A Seat at the Table: Young People and Disaster Recovery is a guide to meaningful Youth Engagement, Participation, and Inclusion. The resource covers all aspects of youth engagement in disaster response, and includes three double-sided A4 fact-sheets which can be printed and shared.
Project Report: Speaking Up
Speaking Up: Young people’s experience of Bushfire and Recovery is the report produced in partnership with the Victorian Government’s Department of Education and Training and Bushfire Recovery Victoria. We consulted and supported young people and community members to document their experience of disaster recovery and response to the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires.
Rural Young Activators 2020/21
The 2020-21 Rural Young Activators are young people aged 15-25 from bushfire-affected communities leading projects and advocacy to support bushfire recovery and animal welfare with support from RSPCA Victoria.
Bushfire resources for Victorians with disability
The disabled community can be particularly vulnerable during bushfires due to a lack of accessible information, emergency housing, vital equipment and many other factors. The Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS) produced this resource to support all Victorians, including young people with disability.
Inspector-General for Emergency Management - Evidence from Experience
The Inspector-General for Emergency Management (IGEM) engaged YACVic in 2020-21 to undertake consultation with young people from fire-affected communities.
The consultation focused on three lines of enquiry:
- What relief and recovery activities that were relevant to young Victorians occurred during and after the 2019-2020 bushfires at the state, regional and local levels?
- To what extent were relief and recovery arrangements and activities, including at a state, regional and incident level, effective from the perspective of young Victorians?
- What opportunities are there to improve current relief and recovery arrangements and practice in Victoria for young Victorians?
The resulting report Evidence from Experience aimed to provide IGEM with data-informed evidence of young people's experiences and perceptions related to the effectiveness of several areas of community-facing relief and recovery.
Future Proof: Young People, Disaster Recovery and (Re)building Communities
A consortium led by YACVic run Future Proof, to drive drive recovery outcomes for fire-affected young people and communities across eastern Victoria. It includes:
- Youth-led local recovery activities
- Qualification pathways for local young people to kickstart careers in emergency management and community services
- Disaster recovery research projects
Youth Focused Disaster Recovery Protocol
The Protocol establishes a framework for Federal, State and Local Government emergency and recovery services and committees, institutions, local youth services, youth workers and others who engage with young people in disaster affected areas. It provides guidance on key matters for consideration and inclusion of young people in post-disaster recovery and rebuilding, and to ensure positive outcomes for young people aged 12-25 who have been affected directly and/or indirectly by a disaster.
COVID-19 has changed everyone’s lives, including young people in disaster-affected communities. We have resources for young people, youth workers and policy-makers to ensure young people aren’t left behind in the pandemic response.
VCOSS Disaster Recovery Conversation series: Facilitating the voice of children and young people in disaster recovery.
For any queries, please get in touch with YACVic Rural Disaster Resilience Programs Coordinator, Carla Hall CHall@YACVic.org.au