Gender and Disaster Conference

The 14th Annual Emergency Management Conference: NEW REALITIES




2 JULY 2014

The Gender Stream on Day 2 of New Realities is presented by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade with the support of Women’s Health Goulburn North East and Women’s Health In the North.


Introduction of Panel
Metropolitan Fire Brigade

‘Don’t talk to me about gender, we have a disaster on our hands!’* The Gender and Disaster Taskforce – its background and future Presentation

Susie Reid, Executive Officer, Women’s Health Goulburn North East
Helen Riseborough, Chief Executive Officer, Women's Health In the North
Emeritus Professor Frank Archer, Director, Monash University Disaster Resilience Initiative
Daryl Taylor, Director, integralevolution (Coaching and Community and Org. Development)
Steve O’Malley, Leading Fire fighter, Metropolitan Fire Brigade

iStock 000016495351XLargeOver the past five years, research in Victoria with women – and then with men – has started the conversation on catastrophic disaster and gender in Australia. These two research projects, ‘The Way He Tells It: Relationships after Black Saturday’ and ‘Men on Black Saturday: Risks and Opportunities for Change’ were followed by conferences, ‘Identifying the Hidden Disaster’ in 2012 and ‘Just Ask’ in 2013, which galvanised support for attention to gender. The findings of the research and the presentations by national and international presenters were compelling in their depictions of the danger to women’s and men’s health and wellbeing of ignoring gender in disaster planning, response and recovery. The members of this panel will draw out the key features of the research and the conferences, and discuss the establishment of a Gender and Disaster Taskforce as a constructive and ground-breaking initiative.

[*Title adapted from Elaine Enarson]

Family Violence after Natural Disaster Presentation

Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana, Victoria Police
Rachel Mackay, Family Violence Trainer, Women’s Health Goulburn North East
Steve O’Malley, Leading Fire fighter, Metropolitan Fire Brigade

Gender and Wildfire: Landscapes of Uncertainty Presentation

Dr Christine Eriksen, Research Fellow, University of Wollongong

iStock 000011444306LargeChristine’s research Gender and Wildfire: Landscapes of Uncertainty examines women’s and men’s experiences of surviving, fighting, living and working with bushfire to reveal the inner workings of response and the culturally and historically distinct gender relations that underpin resilience. Bushfire is revealed as an important means through which traditional gender roles, power relations, and fatality statistics are maintained despite changing social circumstances. Christine will use vignettes from her research to illuminate why gender matters in emergency management and in preparing for, responding to and recovering from catastrophic bushfires.

Workshop: Interrogating Privilege and Complicity in the Oppression of Others Presentation

Professor Bob Pease, Professor of Critical Social Work, Deakin University

iStock 000012953796XLargeOne of the main aims of diversity management is to explore the experiences of those who are marginalized by dominant discourses and organisational practices. The struggle for social justice is thus usually conceived of in terms of empowering those who are marginalised by class, race, gender, sexuality and so on. Little attention is given to the ways in which the positioning of members of privileged groups may reproduce, class, race, gender and sexual privilege. The focus of this workshop is on strategies for members of dominant groups to deepen their understanding of their own privileged positioning and how to engage members of privileged groups in understanding the benefits that flow from privilege and how they are implicated in the oppression of others.

Applying a gender framework to predict, plan for, and respond to Domestic Violence in the midst of natural disaster: the Christchurch experience

Annette Gillespie, Chief Executive Officer, Women's Domestic Violence Crisis Service

iStock 000016567399LargeThe 7.1 and 6.3 magnitude earthquakes that hit Canterbury in 2010 and 2011 had a significant impact on the region’s people, their homes and places of work. Disasters directly and indirectly impact on gender-based violence particularly against women and girls often resulting in heightened violence in their aftermath. The impacts of disasters such as the Christchurch earthquakes affect women and men differently. In the days immediately after the 2010 earthquake, incidents of domestic violence increased by over 50%, even more so six months on as the reality hit that recovery would take years.

This presentation discusses the need to apply a gender framework to better explain why we see significantly elevated rates of domestic violence immediately following a natural disaster. Having led the largest women's refuge to provide the community response to domestic violence during and after the Christchurch earthquakes, Annette will share the lessons learned from being the first responders to woman and children living with domestic violence. There were also lessons learned from the experiences shared by men. Women’s and girls' vulnerability will increase if gender-based violence is not addressed in future disaster preparedness and recovery plans.


Bob Pease-1Presentation-4Bob Pease is Professor of Critical Social Work at Deakin University in Geelong, Australia. He has been involved in pro-feminist politics with men for many years and was a founding member of Men Against Sexual Assault in Melbourne. He has published extensively on masculinity politics and critical social work practice, including four books as single author and ten books as co-editor, as well as numerous book chapters and journal articles. His most recent books include: Undoing Privilege: Unearned Advantage in a Divided World (Zed 2010), Men and Masculinities Around the World: Transforming Men’s Practices (co-editor, Palgrave 2011). Men, Masculinities and Methodologies (co-editor, Palgrave 2013) and The Politics of Recognition and Social Justice: Transforming Subjectivities and New Forms of Resistance (co-editor, Routledge 2014).

Christine Eriksen-1

Dr Christine Eriksen is a Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research at the University of Wollongong. She specialises in social dimensions of disaster resilience. A major part of this work focuses on the culturally and historically distinct gender relations that underpin bushfire vulnerability. Her book 
Gender and Wildfire: Landscapes of Uncertainty (2014) follows people's stories of surviving, fighting, living and working with bushfire in southeast Australia and the US west coast. Christine was selected by the International Social Science Council as a World Social Science Risk Interpretation and Action Fellow in 2013.


Stephen Fontana-1

Presentation-5Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana has been a member of Victoria Police for over 38 years and has spent the majority of his career as a criminal investigator, working at busy metropolitan Criminal Investigation Units, in the Crime Squads and on a number of high profile task force investigations. He also spent a number of years working at the Ethical Standards Department, leading investigations into complaints against police and police corruption. He was promoted to the rank of Assistant Commissioner in charge of the State Emergencies and Security Department in early 2008. This involved him performing a significant role during the Black Saturday Bushfire Emergency and he has been instrumental in overseeing and implementing a number of key recommendations arising from the Victoria Police Bushfire Royal Commission. In June 2011 he took charge of the North West Metropolitan Region which delivers front-line police services for the largest region in the state (1.71 million Victorians living in 14 local government areas). Mr Fontana commenced his current role as the Assistant Commissioner Crime Command on 1 July 2012. This role manages the portfolios of Sexual & Family Violence, Serious Crime, Organised Crime and Investigations & Specialist Support across the state.

Annette Gillespie-1

AnnetteGAnnette Gillespie is the Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service. Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service is the only 24/7 state-wide service for women and children experiencing domestic violence. The service provides emergency accommodation, 24-hour crisis response, outreach services, advocacy, referral, information and support services to enable women and children to become – and stay – free from violence.

With over 20 years' experience in both Australian and internationally, Annette Gillespie is an unrelenting advocate for social change to end violence against women and children. She has worked directly with thousands of women and children who have experienced violence using evidence-based world best practices. Annette has extensive experience that includes developing the first specialist advocacy response in New Zealand for children living with domestic violence. In 2010 she led the largest women's refuge to provide the community response to domestic violence during and after the Christchurch earthquakes. She is committed to eliminating violence against women and has held many significant posts on advisory committees and boards, including No To Violence and as Chair of the NZ National Collective of Women's Refuges.

Steve O-Malley-1

Presentation-2Steve O’Malley is a Leading Fire fighter and Multicultural/Indigenous Liaison Officer with the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB). Steve is married to Leanne and is a father of four children. He’s a Coach, Mentor, Certified Workplace Trainer and Assessor and is a graduate in the study of Human Rights. Currently, as well as fulfilling his other roles with the MFB, Steve: is Vice President of Women and Fire–fighting Australasia (WAFA), and the Equal Opportunity Contact Officer for the MFB; co-coordinates the ‘Diversity Stream’ of the annual Emergency Management Conference in Melbourne; is acknowledged as a member of the VicHealth working party to develop and facilitate a 2 day short course to Prevent Violence Against Women (PVAW); and has been a White Ribbon Ambassador since 2007. In 2005, Steve was awarded the MFB’s Medal for Long and Good Service and the National Medal for Service. He received the Victorian Award for Excellence for Service to Victoria’s Multicultural Community in 2008, and on Australia Day 2010 he became a recipient of the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM).

Rachel Mackay-1

Rachel Mackay is a family violence trainer and health promotion worker at Women’s Health Goulburn North East (WHGNE), with a background as a social worker in the homelessness, child protection and family violence sectors. In her role at WHGNE, Rachel has been responsible for the development and regional coordination of ‘Bsafe’—a personal alarm system for women and children escaping family violence—and has played a key role in the development of WHGNE’s ‘Family Violence After Natural Disasters’ Training Package. Rachel is the regional contact for the Common Risk Assessment Framework (CRAF), and develops and delivers state-wide training on Family Violence Awareness and Family Violence after Natural Disasters.