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4818.5 - Community Preparedness for Emergencies, Western Australia, October 2011 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/05/2012   
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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS


INTRODUCTION

Preparedness activities help to build community resilience to disasters because they build the capacity of the community to withstand, recover from and respond positively to an emergency or crisis (Community Engagement Framework, 2011, Fire and Emergency Services Authority, Government of Western Australia).

This survey collected information on the types of assistance required by households to evacuate in an emergency and indicators of household preparedness for an emergency. This survey also provides insights into household experiences with major emergencies.

Approximately 75% (665,900) of the estimated 883,100 households in WA are located in the Perth Major Statistical Region (MSR; Table 2), an area that is equivalent to the Perth metropolitan area. Approximately 217,200 households are located in the Balance of WA MSR, outside of the Perth MSR.

Within the Perth MSR, approximately one third of households (33.4%; based on Table 1) are located in the Northern Metropolitan Statistical Region (SR), and approximately one fifth of households are located in each of the South West and South East Metropolitan SRs (21.7% and 20.6% respectively). The Eastern Metropolitan SR (15.9%) and the Central Metropolitan SR (8.4%) contain the smallest proportion of households in the Perth MSR.

Within the Balance of WA MSR, the Lower Western WA SR contains approximately two thirds of households (67.1%), while the Remainder-Balance of WA SR contains approximately one third of households (32.9%), based on Table 2.


EMERGENCY EVACUATION

The level of success in the management of major emergencies is dependent on a number of important factors, including the characteristics of affected households. Some households have specific needs such as assistance to exit a dwelling, transport to a safe area, access to alternative accommodation, or have pets that need to be evacuated.

Other factors that may impact on emergency management include household members providing unpaid care to a non-household member, households with members who do not speak or understand English, and households who are unwilling to evacuate.


Requiring assistance to evacuate

Evacuation of households during an emergency can require the assistance of emergency services, such as Police or the State Emergency Services (SES).

Across WA, 20.9% of households indicated they would require assistance to exit a dwelling (Table 2), while one quarter (25.0%) of households indicated they would require transport assistance to a safe area.

For both of these evacuation indicators, households with children represented the highest proportion of households indicating they would require assistance in an emergency (Table 5). Just under half (48.1%) of couple with children households and approximately one third (34.5%) of lone parent with children households indicated they would require assistance to exit a dwelling. Similarly, just under half of couple with children (47.6%) and lone parent (49.1%) households indicated they would require assistance with transport to a safe area.

In comparison, the proportion of households without children indicating they would require assistance to exit a dwelling was lower than for households with children (14.6% of other household types, 6.4% of couple only households and 6.3% of persons living alone). Similarly, the proportion of households without children who indicated they would require transport assistance was lower than for households with children (18.8% of other household types, 16.1% of persons living alone and 7.9% of couple only households).

HOUSEHOLDS REQUIRING ASSISTANCE TO EVACUATE IN AN EMERGENCY, by Household type, WA
Graph: HOUSEHOLDS REQUIRING ASSISTANCE TO EVACUATE IN AN EMERGENCY, by Household type, WA



Non-English speaking households

Households with at least one member who doesn't speak or understand English may require specialist assistance during an emergency evacuation. Across WA, a small proportion of households (Table 2) indicated they have at least one member who is unable to speak English (3.0%), unable to understand English (2.7%), or is unable to understand emergency instructions in English (1.0%).


Access to alternative accommodation

Households with access to alternative accommodation potentially reduce the demand on emergency accommodation, such as evacuation centres. Most households in WA (90.9%; Table 2) reported access to alternative accommodation. The proportions of households in Perth MSR (91.0%) and the balance of WA MSR (90.4%) who reported having access to alternative accommodation, were similar.


PREPAREDNESS FOR EMERGENCIES

When an emergency occurs, preparedness helps to ensure that households and communities are able to respond to, and cope with, its effects. Indicators of preparedness include plans for exiting a dwelling, identification of an agreed meeting place, adequate stores of food and water, access to the latest information, as well as the ability to communicate throughout the emergency. Insurance cover is another indicator of preparedness, as it assists households with the financial burden of replacing or repairing property that may be damaged or lost in an emergency.


Exit plan from dwelling

Householders were asked whether they have a plan to exit their dwelling, should an emergency evacuation occur. In terms of household type (Table 11), the highest proportion of households who reported having an exit plan were persons living alone (56.4%). In contrast, the lowest proportion of households who reported having an exit plan was for other household types (36.3%) and couple with children households (37.8%).

HOUSEHOLDS WITH AN EXIT PLAN FROM DWELLING, by Household type, WA
Graph: HOUSEHOLDS WITH AN EXIT PLAN FROM DWELLING, by Household type, WA



Communication

Landline telephone

Almost one quarter (22.9%) of WA households indicated they do not have a landline telephone (Table 9). There was little difference in the proportion of households who indicated they do not have a landline telephone in the Perth MSR (22.7%) and the Balance of WA MSR (23.6%).

Across household types (Table 11), the highest proportion of households who indicated they do not have a landline telephone was lone parent with children households (43.9%). Couple households with (16.5%) and without (15.6%) children, had the lowest proportion of households who indicated they do not have a landline telephone.

Internet access

More than three quarters (82.9%) of households in WA reported having internet access, as shown in Table 9. The proportion of households in Perth MSR (84.2%) who reported having internet access was higher than the for the Balance of WA MSR (78.9%).

Across household types (Table 11), couples with children (96.4%) had the highest proportion of households who reported internet access. In comparison, persons living alone (63.2%) had the lowest proportion of households who reported internet access, as shown in the graph below.

HOUSEHOLDS WITH INTERNET ACCESS, by Household type, WA
Graph: HOUSEHOLDS WITH INTERNET ACCESS, by Household type, WA



Insurance cover

Most households living in dwellings that are fully owned or being purchased reported to have comprehensive (i.e. building and contents) insurance cover (92.4%; Table 14). For households who are renting, or other tenure types, the proportion of households who reported contents insurance cover (47.6%) was similar to those who reported no contents insurance cover (47.7%).


Sources of information during an emergency

In an emergency, more WA households indicated they would seek emergency information from the radio (56.7%; Table 16), internet (44.1%) or television (43.3%), than other sources such as a telephone hotline (13.9%), emergency services personnel (8.8%), or police contacts (6.4%). Note that households were able to provide multiple responses to this question.

The proportion of households who indicated they would seek emergency information from the radio (Table 16) was similar for Perth MSR (57.0%) and Balance of WA MSR (55.7%). However, the proportion of households who indicated they would seek emergency information from the internet and the television was higher for Perth MSR (46.4% and 45.1% respectively) than for Balance of WA MSR (37.1% and 37.6% respectively), as shown in the graph below.

SELECTED SOURCES OF EMERGENCY INFORMATION, by Major Statistical Region, WA (a)
Graph: SELECTED SOURCES OF EMERGENCY INFORMATION, by Major Statistical Region, WA (a)



EXPERIENCED ANY MAJOR EMERGENCIES

In WA, 7.5% (66,000) of households reported having experienced a major emergency. The proportion of households in the Balance of WA MSR who reported experience of major emergencies (11.5%) is almost twice the proportion of households in the Perth MSR who reported experience of major emergencies (6.2%), as shown in Table 2.

In an emergency where evacuation was required (Table 3) households who indicated they had experienced a major emergency also reported a higher proportion of households with pets needing evacuation (61.9%) than households who reported no experience of a major emergency (50.7%).

Similarly, households who indicated they had experienced a major emergency also reported a higher proportion of households who were unwilling to evacuate (17.2%), compared to those who had not reported experience of a major emergency (6.0%; Table 3).

In terms of preparedness indicators (Table 10), the proportion of households who reported having experience of a major emergency, who also reported having an exit plan (55.4%) or an agreed meeting place (21.0%), is higher than for households who indicated they have not experienced a major emergency (42.9% and 11.2% respectively).

SELECTED INDICATORS OF COMMUNITY PREPAREDNESS, by Experience in major emergencies, WA
Graph: SELECTED INDICATORS OF COMMUNITY PREPAREDNESS, by Experience in major emergencies, WA



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