1304.5 - Stats Talk WA, Sep 2008  
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Are You Prepared?
Western Australian Statistical Indicators
(cat. no. 1367.5)

Types of emergencies in WA
Most major emergencies in Western Australia are due to natural causes, in particular bushfires, tropical cyclones, storms and associated flooding.

In order to effectively plan for and mitigate the effects of these events on the community, emergency authorities have expressed a need for more information on the overall preparedness of households for emergencies. An important element of the information includes community levels of access to vital communication systems such as portable radios, mobile and landline telephones and the Internet. Information has also been sought on the types of assistance households are most likely to need in the event of an emergency.

Preparedness for Emergencies
A forthcoming article in the September quarter edition of Western Australian Statistical Indicators explores some of these factors and their relationship to households with various regional, demographic and dwelling characteristics. The article draws on data from the 2007 State Supplementary Survey on Community Preparedness for Emergencies (cat. no. 4818.5) and focuses particularly on emergencies that may require evacuation.

Some of the significant findings from the survey were that:

• almost half of all Western Australian households did not have a working portable radio and a third did not have access to the Internet, although almost all had access to either a mobile or landline telephone.

• almost half of all Western Australian households had an exit plan for their dwelling, however only one in ten households had an agreed meeting place following an evacuation.

• the majority of households had access to alternative accommodation following an emergency.

• just over one in ten households, and in particular, those in areas prone to bushfire, were unwilling to evacuate their homes in the case of an emergency. Half of these would prefer to stay and fight a bushfire while just under half wanted to prevent looting and vandalism of their property.

• almost one in five households would require assistance to exit their dwelling in the event of an evacuation, particularly those with young children, the elderly, or persons with disabilities.

• a quarter of all households would require transport assistance and two-thirds would require pets to be evacuated.

The different characteristics of households affected their preparedness to evacuate following an emergency. Among family households, couples with children were least likely to have an exit plan or an agreed meeting place. These households also needed high levels of assistance in relation to exiting their dwelling, transport and pet evacuation. Persons living alone, households with older people and rental dwellings tended to be most vulnerable with regard to their communication systems, with generally lower proportions having access to the Internet or mobile telephone connections.

Further Information
More details can be found in the feature article, Preparedness for Emergencies and Household Assistance Required, Western Australian Statistical Indicators, September quarter 2008, cat. no. 1367.5. If you have any queries relating to the Western Australian Statistical Indicators publication, call Sue Lee on (08) 9360 5391.