‘It has been a delight to follow from afar the progress of the Gender and Disaster Taskforce…This is a remarkable undertaking of clear benefit to your home communities, as they strive to reduce vulnerabilities and build resilience. It’s a model with great potential for others in Australia and beyond.’Dr. Elaine Enarson, Independent Scholar, US, and author of ‘The Gendered Terrain of Disaster’ and ‘Women Confronting Natural Disaster’.

Australia’s first Gender and Disaster (GAD) Taskforce was established in January 2014. Auspiced by the Victorian Emergency Management Commissioner, the GAD Taskforce is one of the major initiatives emerging from the GAD Pod’s foundational work and research in the area of gender and disaster. The purpose of the GAD Taskforce is to provide ‘statewide strategic direction and leadership to reduce the compounding effects of gender on disaster impacts’. As gender inequality and societal complicity contribute to the prevalence of men’s violence against women, changing the culture of emergency management to include equal contribution by women at all levels, has been identified as an important part of this strategy.

The work of the Taskforce aims to bring a gender-focus to disaster policy, planning, training and practice, in order to improve the support that men and women receive before and after disaster, mitigate risks to men and women’s health and wellbeing post-disaster, and build awareness of the critical need for attention to gender in disaster planning and community recovery.

The work of the Taskforce is guided by seven key objectives, outlined in its Terms of Reference. Two other guiding documents, the Foundational Document and the Program Logic/Workplan, outline the aims and rationale of the Taskforce and identify a clear program of action.

Members of the Victorian Gender and Disaster Taskforce.

The GAD Taskforce meets on a quarterly basis at the Emergency Management Commissioner’s office in Melbourne. The Taskforce is co-chaired by the Emergency Management Commissioner, Craig Lapsley, and the Executive Officer of WHGNE, Susie Reid. It includes representatives from all major Victorian emergency service organisations, and the community, government, academic and women’s health sectors.

The formation of the GAD Taskforce represents a unique and significant step in achieving a collaborative partnership across multiple sectors and the community.

Special presentation

Special presentation by Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick and Chief of Army, Lt. Gen. David Morrison AO

Taskforce members were honoured to welcome Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick and Chief of Army, Lt. Gen. David Morrison AO to the third GAD Taskforce meeting on 12th August 2014. Commissioner Broderick and Lt. Gen. Morrison provided special presentations to the Taskforce, with both speaking passionately about the need to prioritise gender issues and to take action to enact a new culture in traditional and male-dominated organisations.

Watch the presentations by Liz Broderick and David Morrison here: