Effective diversity and inclusion in Australian Emergency Management Organisations and its role in building resilience.

11:15 Thursday 30 May

SS045 • OC268

Room S6


Celeste Young (Australia) 1; Roger Jones (Australia) 1; Margarita Kumnick (Australia) 1

1 - Institute of Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities, Victoria University, Melbourne Australia

Building resilience is a systemic process which requires a transformational approach that encompasses all areas of society and is a long term proposition. This means that institutions and the organisations within them need to be able to understand and engage with all aspects of their communities to support management and implementation. This requires interactions across multiple contexts and the diverse actors within them that enable rather disable action. It places a particular focus on diversity and inclusion and the specific role it plays in process of adapting to and building resilience to future climate impacts. It also requires understanding of the values and narratives that inform and shape decision making in relation to this.

Emergency Management Organisations (EMOs) are responsible for enacting many resilience activities in Australia. They are hybrid organisations that incorporate government, service providers and communities. These organisations are transforming in response changing social, environmental and economic drivers. Two of the key needs that have arisen from this are:

  • the need to better represent their communities and
  • the need to transition from delivering services to their communities to working with them.

This presents a considerable challenge to these organisations as there is poor understanding of what constitutes effective practice in relation to diversity and inclusion and has low levels of diversity in its workforce. This research examines the current context in which diversity and inclusion exists within Australian EMOs to understand how to best address this gap. Using a mixed method approach the values, narratives and decision making were assessed systemically across three case study organisations.

This transdisciplinary research showed how these organisations and their communities have evolved and how their context is rapidly changing. It identified current barriers, needs, opportunities and benefits that are associated with effective implementation of diversity and inclusion.In particular it highlighted the critical need to address cultural and institutional barriers to support better understanding and valuing of the diversity. But most importantly it showed that developing inclusive cultures and complex decision making is the key to effective practice. A process for effective implementation is also presented.

Understanding of the need for diversity and inclusion and its effective implementation in the institutions, organisations and individuals that are tasked with managing resilience activities, is now a core need. It is long road but a necessary one which underpins activities needed to ensure all members of our society are included in the resilience process.