Australia is set to overhaul the way it supports people after natural disasters, which will end a shocking and hidden problem.
Frontline responders to natural disasters such as bushfires will receive training to identify and support women and children who are victims of domestic violence, correcting a serious service gap revealed by a royal commission.
The federal government will provide $ 3.7 million over four years to Gender and Disaster Australia to train and provide resources to more than 1,000 responders across the country, such as the Australian Red Cross, volunteer firefighters and health workers.
Women’s Safety Minister Anne Ruston said it would help them understand family breakdowns and issues of gender-based violence that increase during and after disasters.
“Unfortunately, the evidence shows that natural disasters were often linked to an increase in family reports,
domestic and sexual violence, ”she said.
“The project will strengthen the capacity of relief and recovery services and guide women to
services that will help them get back on their feet.
“The training will give frontline workers the tools – including resources based on the lived experiences of survivor victims – they need to better recognize and support women and children who are victims of or at risk of violence.
“(They will also be able to) refer men showing signs of violent behavior to the appropriate services.”
This change means that an important recommendation of the Royal Commission on National Disaster Arrangements will be respected.
He found that natural disasters were often linked to increased rates of domestic and family violence, either by increasing the intensity of existing violence or by triggering new violent behavior.
The Royal Commission noted that reports of family, domestic and social violence have peaked in regional areas following natural disasters, including the Queensland floods in 2010-2011 and the 2009 bushfires in the state of Victoria.
The commission called for a nationally cohesive program to deal with the problem.
Federal Emergency Management Minister Bridget McKenzie said frontline workers need to be equipped with specialized tools to support those affected by domestic violence during a disaster.
“Especially in rural and regional areas where we know there are often barriers to accessing support,” she said.
“The result is greater capacity within the emergency management sector and greater resilience within individuals, families and communities.
“GADA developed the training so that once a person has completed the program, they have the skills to deliver the training within their organization or community.
“This will integrate training into communities and organizations on an ongoing basis so that the benefits can continue into the future. “
GADA will start training disaster responders by mid 2022.