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This section provides key facts about emergency management and Indigenous environmental health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander environmental health practitioners.


Indigenous communities across Australia face many different types of emergencies. Emergency management helps communities to avoid emergencies and know how to deal with them if they happen.
Emergencies mean different things to different people. They are often defined as ‘an event requiring a significant, coordinated response'. These events can range from a cyclone or flood, to a vehicle crash or family dispute. The kinds of emergencies that might occur depend a lot on the surrounding environment and social conditions. Emergencies must be defined and dealt with at a community level.
Emergencies are caused by hazards from four main groups:

Natural hazards

Hazards caused by humans

Socioeconomic hazards

Health hazards

What is emergency management?

Emergency management provides a way for communities to manage risks and avoid emergencies, or deal with emergencies quickly and efficiently if they occur. It requires good partnerships between Indigenous communities and agencies that deal with emergencies (including ambulance, fire and police services and the Royal Flying Doctors Service), especially in remote locations. An emergency management plan needs to take into account cultural, engagement (getting the community involved) and communication (letting people know) issues.

What issues should be considered when Indigenous communities engage in emergency management?

Cultural issues

Planning and engagement issues

Collaboration issues

Empowerment issues

Priorities for emergency management relevant to Indigenous Environmental Health Practitioners (IEHPs)

The Keeping our mob safe: a national emergency management strategy for remote Indigenous communities report identifies priorities for establishing and maintaining emergency management in Indigenous communities. The priorities of particular importance to IEHPs include:

Community resourcing

Empowering Indigenous people

Education of Indigenous people


Emergency Management Australia (2007) Keeping our mob safe: a national emergency management strategy for remote Indigenous communities. Canberra: Ministerial Council for Police and Emergency Management (MCPEM) Retrieved from:

© Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet 2013 
This product, excluding the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet logo, artwork, and any material owned by a third party or protected by a trademark, has been released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) licence. Excluded material owned by third parties may include, for example, design and layout, images obtained under licence from third parties and signatures.


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    Last updated: 16 February 2010
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