Mandurah is a popular retirement destination, resulting in a demographic that is quite unique. The 2011 census indicates that 20.4% of the population is over 65yrs+ and is expected to rise to 23% by 2021. This presents a major concern and challenge for emergency services, specifically in relation to mass elderly evacuation/sheltering.
This project was targeted at those who could effect change and was developed with extensive emergency planning consultation and workshops in the City of Mandurah. It aimed to raise understanding of those managing aged care and independent living facilities.
The project was the first of its kind in Mandurah and its success lies in its simplicity, asking: Who are we dealing with? How prepared are they (and their families)? What resources do they have? Are they willing to share these resources in an emergency event?
A shared responsibility was encouraged throughout the project which resulted in a formalised MOU between 16 residential aged care and independent living facilities. The MOU provides a framework for facilities to assist one another with the support and endorsement by senior management.
The project has now been documented in the vulnerable communities support plan within the City of Mandurah Local Emergency Management Arrangements (LEMA) with future plans to include extending the project to other vulnerable communities such as schools and day care centres.
Photograph: Kate Drennan Photography.
The Pillowcase Project is a pilot school based disaster preparedness program which targets children from 8 – 10 years and is designed to help build their knowledge and capacity in disaster preparedness.
In WA the program was delivered to 722 students from eight schools in the Shire of Mundaring, a community recovering from a major bushfire in 2014 where 57 homes were lost. Following extensive monitoring and evaluation, 93% of children who participated in the program felt prepared for an emergency after participating in the program. In addition, 81.4% of parents/guardians who responded were more likely to prepare for an emergency as a result of this program.
The program encourages students, parents and teachers to be active participants in their own preparedness. They were encouraged to get informed about the emergencies in their area, make an emergency plan, pack an emergency kit and to know who in their neighbourhood can help in such an event.
Psychological coping skills and using a pillowcase as an emergency kit are key aspects of the program. The children decorate a pillowcase with something that is important to them and what they may want or need in an emergency. Drawing on the pillowcases prompted discussion and assisted in creating an enhanced sense of community and shared responsibility.
Australian Red Cross Pillowcase Project
Australian Red Cross staff collecting award. L-R Steve Joske, Claire Silveira, Minister Francis.