Published: 19 November 2023
Emerge Australia’s Nurse Educator Kate Herbert spoke with the ABC about the inclusivity of people living with a chronic illness, such as ME/CFS, are neurodivergent, or have a disability, in future disaster and severe weather event plans.
Ms Herbert wants to start a conversation about how people who fall into those categories can have their needs met before, during and after an emergency.
“Twenty-five per cent of people with ME/CFS are house or bed bound and their choices might be between having a bird bath at the sink and eating a meal … they may not have the energy to eat even if someone brings them food,” she said.
“It’s like a battery which is always low, it drains much faster and it doesn’t recharge quickly.”
New research by community organisations Australia reMADE and Women’s Health Goulburn North East has found a need for a new approach to disaster that prioritises care for everyone.
Australia reMADE Co-Director, Millie Rooney, led a research team in community conversations with people in the Goulburn Valley region and north-eastern Victoria – where the population had endured the Black Summer bushfires, the 2022 floods and the global COVID-19 pandemic in recent years.
“We found there is a need for people to be seen, safe and supported during and after a crisis, and that their communities already need to be strong and connected before disaster strikes for this to occur,” Dr Rooney said.
“Inequality exacerbates the impact of disaster, so if we address that before disaster then we have less work to do in recovery.”