Disasters need managing

1 JANUARY 2003

The tsunami that hit Samoa and Tonga and the earthquakes in Sumatra this week are further reminders that natural and man-made disasters are increasing around the world and need to be planned for and managed by governments, emergency services and relief agencies, according to a lecturer at CSU.

The tsunami that hit Samoa and Tonga and the earthquakes in Sumatra this week are further reminders that natural and man-made disasters are increasing around the world and need to be planned for and managed by governments, emergency services and relief agencies, according to a lecturer at Charles Sturt University (CSU).
 
Mr Ian Manock, lecturer in emergency management at the CSU School of Social Sciences and Liberal Studies at Bathurst, said that with a burgeoning world population, and despite increasing technology, research shows that the incidence of damage to facilities and harm to people from the impact of natural and technological hazards is increasing exponentially.
 
“The widespread impact of the tsunami on Samoa, as with the earthquake in Padang, or the recent typhoon flooding in The Philippines and Vietnam, will no doubt have emergency service agencies in these countries pushed beyond their limits,” Mr Manock said.
 
“Here in Australia, we make widespread use of volunteer support to the emergency services and emergency management agencies during and in the aftermath of disasters, such as this year’s Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria. When there is widespread impact on the population, this volunteer support is reduced.
 
“In a country such as Samoa that is developing and which has a small population, the impact of a widespread disaster means there is additional stress on the emergency services and government agencies responding to the event.
 
“Immediate post-disaster recovery issues that need to be addressed are the urgent need for food, clean water, accommodation and public health related services for those affected by the disaster. The medium to long term issues of clean up, restoration, rebuilding, re-establishment of businesses and the tourist industry that might have been affected by the disaster also need to be addressed.”
 
Mr Manock said that because our communities are becoming more and more vulnerable, there is increasing recognition of the need to protect assets and resources, and manage the risks we face more effectively.
 
“Consequently, in Australia government legislation has established emergency management organisations which must develop and maintain community counter-disaster preparedness and plans at all levels of the community to manage natural and technological disasters,” he said.
 
“The importance of activities to reverse the hazard trend by minimising the risk of hazards occurring and the consequences when they do occur, means there are increasing employment opportunities for people who have emergency management knowledge and expertise.”

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