Wednesday, 18 February 2015
A Responsibility and a Right
Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent has held a public meeting discussing the legislative and policy changes needed in emergency management following shortcomings in the system during the Sampson Flat bushfires.
Demonstrating just how important this issue is for the disability and ageing communities, Old Parliament House was packed with people wanting to discuss emergency communication, education and awareness.
“In addition to the public meeting held yesterday, we have had more than 100 submissions on emergency management and disaster planning issues affecting people with disabilities,” says Kelly Vincent.
“Whether you are Deaf, vision impaired, have an intellectual disability, or use a mobility aid through ageing or disability, it’s important that you have the same access to evacuation and emergency planning that the rest of the community is granted.
“During the Sampson Flat bushfires that did not occur. Our current State Emergency Plan is largely silent on disability issues.
“It was very evident at the meeting that our volunteer fire fighters and other staff want to make sure their messages are heard, and they need advice on how to make this information accessible. It is pleasing to know that people working in this area are open to change, and Dignity for Disability welcomes the opportunity to continue this conversation.”
Ms Vincent has already drafted amendments to the state Emergency Management Act 2004 to mandate the provision of Australian Sign Language (Auslan) interpreters for TV broadcasts related to emergency situations, and following the consultation, will also push for changes to allow for captioning, Easy English, and other measures to ensure easy and equal access. She plans to put the draft Bill to Parliament in the coming weeks.
“Some of the changes that the community wants will be achievable through legislation, and others will require different efforts, like awareness campaigns. I welcome ongoing feedback from anyone who has ideas about how to ensure that people with disabilities get equal access. It is important that we continue this discussion to ensure that everyone is kept informed and safe.
“In addition to changing the law, we would also like to see improved acknowledgement of the diverse needs of the community in our State Emergency Management Plan, including the elderly and people from indigenous and varying cultural backgrounds,” said Ms Vincent.