Supporting vulnerable residents in the Blue Mountains

1 MAY 2015

CSU research has identified strategies for communities to help support older and vulnerable people in times of emergency.

Charles Sturt University (CSU) research has identified strategies for communities to help support older and vulnerable people in times of emergency.

CSU's Dr Valarie Ingham and Dr Sarah RedshawThe research focused on the Blue Mountains and was in response to issues arising out of the 2013 bushfires.

CSU researchers, Dr Valarie Ingham and Dr Sarah Redshaw from the Institute of Land Water and Society, have examined the needs of vulnerable community members and strategies to address their social inclusion and safety requirements.

"The impetus for the research stemmed from initial investigations revealing that vulnerable residents within the Blue Mountains may not be actively engaged or consulted by relevant authorities prior to, or during, emergency situations," said Dr Ingham.

"This includes the elderly, those with a disability or chronic illness, people living with mental health issues and people who live alone.

"We've also looked further at the community connections needed to plan for and support these people in their day to day life."

Their report, Community Connections: Vulnerability and Resilience in the Blue Mountains emphasised role of community organisations in assisting vulnerable people in preparedness as well as emergency events.

"There's a need for genuine integration of local community service providers, especially Neighbourhood Centres and peak bodies, into all levels of disaster management processes within the Blue Mountains," said Dr Ingham.

The report also recommends a vulnerable persons register and strategies to enhance the community connections and resilience of vulnerable people.

The research was conducted in partnership with the Blue Mountains City Council, Katoomba Neighbourhood Centre, and Springwood Neighbourhood Centre Cooperative Ltd.

"Communities, individuals and households need to take greater responsibility for their own safety and to act on advice given to them in a bushfire situation," said Dr Ingham.

"However the most vulnerable in our community are not always able to help themselves and will require assistance when disaster strikes. How these people are identified and assisted provides a major focus for our ongoing work and research."

Dr Ingham and Dr Redshaw have been contracted by the Katoomba Neighbourhood Centre, to implement a community action plan to build resilience and improve preparedness for natural disasters in the Blue Mountains.

Media Note:

Contact CSU Media to arrange interviews. Dr Valarie Ingham is a senior lecturer with CSU's Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security based in Bathurst. Dr Sarah Redshaw is a research associate with the Institute for Land Water and Society. She is based in the Blue Mountains and available for interview.

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Charles Sturt University ILWS Emergency Management Society and Community