Communities urged to take charge of emergency planning

AS Neighbour's Day approaches on March 29, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) is encouraging communities to come together and plan their response to potential emergencies.

Community Emergency Plans document how any community - a small town, local city neighbourhoods, a street or a gated community - will respond if a natural disaster strikes.

In the South Eastern Region, QFES Community Engagement Officer Melissa Messenger has been working to help communities put these plans together, beginning two years ago with the Halcyon Waters over-50s gated community at Hope Island.

"Building resilient communities in Queensland is vital and it is our at-risk groups that require a targeted approach," Mrs Messenger said.

"This project is driven by a community group interested in doing more than just providing information to residents and takes into consideration the needs of the whole community.

"Having a Community Emergency Plan can strengthen the community resilience through the identification of hazards, potential risks and proposed solutions.

"These plans are wholly community-focussed with all decisions, processes and guidelines developed by the community in consultation with emergency management agencies."

Mrs Messenger's work with Halcyon Waters saw the group commended at the Queensland Get Ready Resilient Australia Awards late last year.

"Together with the City of Gold Coast and the Halcyon Waters community, we developed, planned and produced a Community Emergency Plan that would enable the residents to be self-sufficient before, during and after a disaster," she said.

"The key group of residents formed the Halcyon Waters Emergency Watch Group and, in collaboration with QFES and City of Gold Coast, they now have a plan that forms part of the Local Disaster Management Plan.

"What makes the Halcyon Waters example so successful is that the community took ownership and were passionate about ensuring the plan was well-formulated and unique to their situation, making use of expert advice."

Mrs Messenger said it was her hope that all communities, particularly in high-risk areas for natural disasters, would be able to develop a similar plan.

To get started, visit the Get Ready website to see how you and your neighbours can work together today to prepare for an emergency.

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