Policy, Planning, and Community Recovery Specific Actions


See also, the Gender and Disaster Taskforce Workplan.

This section necessarily covers actions from high level decision makers and funders to community recovery planning. For workers without influence over funding, when planning community recovery events, consider specific activities for women and men. For further ideas, see Recovery Agency checklist.

Before Disaster

  • Explore ways for emergency services workers – especially police and fire-fighters – to return to families immediately after the initial trauma of the disaster and where possible, backfill with personnel from other regions.
  • Investigate effective counselling for emergency services workers in the immediate post disaster period-particularly in male-dominated organisations (see, e.g. Dr Michelle Tuckey)
  • Hold community consultations and public meetings at times and places that allow attendance by women.
  • Engage with existing community, women’s and men’s groups.
  • In disaster training and in best-practice social change campaigns, show the films in this website to raise awareness of gendered vulnerabilities.
  • Organise and fund local classes for women in bushfires or floods, e.g. http://www.cfs.sa.gov.au/site/prepare_for_bushfire/cfs_community_events/firey_women.jsp
  • Organise and fund local disaster preparedness groups targeted for women and look out for other groups that provide necessary skills for women such as chainsaw sculpting or blacksmithing classes.
  • Establish community-based action-oriented programs for men and women, for example around hazard mitigation, where trust is built in teams through working side by side.
  • Educate disaster-prone communities about the probable health effects of disaster before a disaster occurs. Include the possible exacerbation of previous traumas, e.g. Men on Black Saturday training.
  • Police (and other relevant ESOs, including case managers) to undertake training or refreshers to ensure the safety of women, children and communities after disaster, e.g. Family Violence after Natural Disaster training.
  • Include DV professionals in policy, planning and recovery committees or working groups. Include DV presentations in community recovery meetings.
  • Increase funding for family violence services in communities affected by disaster.
  • Review Police Codes of Practice to ensure accurate recording of family violence after disasters.
  • Map risk using a gender analysis in order to direct aid effectively (Gender and Disasters Network 2005 p. 159).
  • Establish a drop-in health service with extended open hours post-disaster. This could operate along the lines of past well-women’s clinics, with specialists in men’s, women’s, and children’s health and specific resources relevant to disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.
  • Tailor Mental Health First- Aid courses to include disaster trauma and the probability of increased family violence, and provide them annually to communities in disaster-prone areas.
  • Establish a National Preferred Provider Register to list disaster trauma practitioners who have a sound understanding of family violence.
  • Establish a disaster help-line (and web equivalents) for psycho-social support, including gender-specific and family violence training of helpline staff and volunteers.
  • Strive to include equal numbers of women at all levels in emergency service organisations.
  • In policies and practice, include women in existing domestic violence situation in ‘vulnerable groups’.
  • Research the operation of emergency service organisations to identify both constraints and opportunities to effect culture change towards equal participation by men and women.
  • Establish National Disaster Guidelines that:

    • Ensure accurate family violence statistics are recorded by all personnel responding to disaster e.g. health and community services and police
    • Require sex-disaggregated statistics be collected and collated by services involved in disaster planning, response and recovery.
    • State the need for relationship and family counselling in the immediate aftermath of a disaster and on a long-term ongoing basis
    • Note the critical importance of gender as a determinant of behaviours and vulnerabilities in disasters.

During Disaster

  • Promote policies that prioritise the needs of all sole adults escaping disaster with small children.

After Disaster

  • Investigate ways of supporting men in the aftermath of a disaster, in the knowledge that they are often reluctant to seek formal counselling:

    • Broaden Men’s Shed activities and similar programs to include outreach to younger men, art, music and other activities, including conversation on critical preparedness and recovery
  • Include responsible drinking advertising in community spaces.
  • Compensate women for their participation in planning and recovery and provide support for their participation, such as childcare and transport.
  • Involve women in the design and functioning of temporary accommodation. “Working with women’s groups in their design, siting, and operation can help avoid post-disaster conflict, eg. due to insensitivity to the needs of children and youth, perceived lack of safety, distance from public transport of child care centres, etc. Outreach to women also helps support caregivers in their critical roles at this time.” (Enarson 2012 p. 172)
  • Monitor accurate recording of family violence after disasters by police and other responsible recovery
  • Offer financial and systematic support for women’s groups post-disasters
  • Identify and utilise the skills of local women and men in the reconstruction phase, e.g. through preference to local subcontractors.
  • Enable local people to undertake training for completion of certificates to enable contribution to post-disaster paid recovery work.
  • Develop policy to employ local men and women in paid reconstruction efforts and case management roles, and offer a gradual supported re-entry to the workforce.
  • Ensure donated funds and grants are fairly distributed, e.g. ensure compensation is paid to local owner-builders who were unable to self-insure tools and materials.
  • Review post-disaster reconstruction grants and employment contracts with a gender lens to ensure fair distribution of funds and paid work opportunities.
  • Ensure employees have access to confidential counselling – ideally based away from the workplace.

General Actions


Actions for Gender Equity

  • Recognise that the way men and women act is often the result of social conditioning and these gendered roles can leave women at a disadvantage both during and after disasters
  • Resist stereotypes —base all initiatives on knowledge of difference and specific cultural, economic, political and sexual context, not generalisations (Gender and Disasters Network 2005 p. 159).

Surviving Disaster

  • Before, during, and after disasters, challenge expectations that men will behave in a defined ‘masculine’ way – encourage expression of emotion.

Domestic Violence

  • Be aware that women are at increased risk of violence. Understand that disaster is no excuse for DV.
  • Name it: Say the word ‘violent’- not ‘stressed’ and ‘angry’.
  • Follow the 4 steps to support someone suffering domestic violence after a disaster.
  • Undertake training in identifying domestic violence after disaster, e.g. (provide Iink to our training on this site).