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  • Writer's picture2022 Global Voices Fellow

Preventing & Addressing Post-Disaster Domestic Violence in Affected Communities

By Meg Somers, RMIT University, UNFCCC, 2020

Meg Somers is an RMIT University student studying a Bachelor of International Studies (Global Security). Her Policy Paper discusses Preventing & Addressing Post-Disaster Domestic Violence in Affected Communities.

Executive Summary

Climate and disaster crises have significant gendered implications (Dankelman & Naidu, 2020). People of all ages and genders have distinct vulnerabilities that affect the way they experience disaster and their ability to recover from it (Gender and Disaster Pod, 2016). These vulnerabilities are caused by socioeconomic conditions, cultural beliefs, and traditional practices. This paper explores the increased rates of domestic violence that routinely occur after natural disasters and the disproportionate impact this violence has on women (UNDP, 2021), through the context of Victoria, Australia. Displacement from disasters can exacerbate women’s vulnerability to domestic abuse and sexual assault (UNDP, 2021). Australia’s current climate and disaster policies only take a gendered lens when considering foreign policy. Current domestic policy in Australia does not consider the gendered aspects of disaster resilience. This paper addresses the gap in domestic policy and Australia’s emergency management response to rates of domestic violence in natural disaster affected communities. By amending the National Principles for Disaster Recovery and implementing a national domestic-violence awareness training program for first responders and those in human services roles in post-disaster environments, the government can facilitate effective and discreet support to those affected by domestic violence. This will improve the health and wellbeing of women and men affected by disaster across Australia, whilst also working towards Australia’s goal of reaching gender equality.

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