Volunteering Queensland’s Leadership Coordinator, Tal Fitzpatrick, has taken part in a series of forums designed especially for young people living in disaster-affected areas.
These UNESCO Youth Looking Beyond Disasters Forums bring together a wide cross section of inspiring young people, aged between 13 and 30, who are actively involved in their communities.
Tal shares her experiences from these forums, and photos and videos via these blog posts:
- Sendai, Japan - August 2012
- Auckland, New Zealand - December 2012
- National Volunteer Week, Australia - May 2013
This forum series is unique in its approach to building disaster resilience because it engages with children and young people: a demographic that is often left out of the disaster management discourse.
Designed on the premise that sustainable resilience is built up from the grassroots through small local initiatives which are owned and lead by communities themselves, the UNESCO Youth Looking Beyond Disasters Forums focus on building the capacity of participants around actions they can take to build resilience in their communities.
Participants together considered the issues they are now facing as a result of natural disasters and came up with their own action and project plans to address some of these.
The forums recognise the contributions the participants and other young people make in all phases of disaster management, including prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.
Such contributions include cleaning up after floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides; giving medical attention and mental health support through work with charitable organisations; leading their own initiatives to mobilise other young people; and putting their professional skills to use.
A significant outcome of the forums is the creation of the Christchurch Communiqué and Sendai Communiqué: documents written by the forum participants which outlines their concerns and key issues to do with disaster management in a global context.
These communiqués have been presented to the UN and outline a set of recommendations and considerations for governments, response agencies, researchers and organisations on how to be more inclusive and responsive to the needs of young people in disaster situations and how to better engage and integrate them in the disaster management process.