When talking about the COVID-19 pandemic people often said, “We’re all in the same boat.” But this wasn’t true, and while we were in the same storm, we were in very different boats.

Whether a pandemic or a natural disaster, research shows that migrant and refugee communities are disproportionately affected. Unfamiliarity with local risks and hazards and language barriers can contribute to this. But it is the lack of inclusive approaches by the emergency management sector that is the key contributor.

The Multicultural Resilience Program, a collaboration between ECCV and the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) brought together multicultural community and emergency management leaders to learn from one another. It helped strengthen community resilience and reduced the disruptive impacts of COVID-19 in multicultural communities. It is also increasing mutual understanding and trust between multicultural communities and emergency management organisations, and is working toward greater cultural safety for all who work in and with emergency management organisations.

Yesterday, we were thrilled to jointly receive the National Community Award with VCOSS at the Resilient Australia Awards 2022 for our work on the Multicultural Resilience Program. The award also belongs to all the multicultural community leaders and connectors we have been privileged to work with as part of the Program.

A key outcome of this unique, cross-sector Program has been the creation of a network of around 100 multicultural community leaders, who have been able to develop their skills in emergency management, leadership, communications and psychological first aid. As a result, these leaders have built their capacity to support their communities through the COVID-19 pandemic and other emergency events. They have also been working, in turn, to build the capacity of the emergency management sector to better engage and support multicultural communities.

ECCV and VCOSS look forward to continuing to facilitate this important cross-sector work and helping to ensure emergency management responses are inclusive of Victorians in all their diversity.

Find out more about the Multicultural Resilience Program here.