The Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV) welcomes the $500,000 investment in the Multicultural Emergency Management Partnership (MEMP), announced yesterday by the Victorian Government as part of its funding package to help support flood-affected communities to rebuild and recover.

The investment will allow the MEMP to continue its much-needed work of strengthening the connections between multicultural communities, government and emergency services in order to build disaster resilience and preparedness.

The MEMP is an award-winning initiative established by VCOSS and ECCV which brings together migrant and refugee community leaders and representatives from 10 emergency organisations, including Ambulance Victoria, CFA and Victoria Police. ECCV has been calling for continued support for the MEMP, as well as for working groups coordinated by regional ethnic councils, since funding ceased in June.

This call-to-action is a cornerstone of ECCV’s recently released State Election Platform. “As many of Victoria’s migrant and refugee communities grapple with the effects of the floods, this is a critical time to invest in initiatives like the MEMP, which are uniquely placed to address the needs of multicultural communities and support them to develop plans for future disasters,” said ECCV CEO Emiliano Zucchi.

While we are pleased that funding for the MEMP will continue, Mr Zucchi said there was still a need for ongoing investment in culturally appropriate emergency management planning and support at the local level for regional multicultural communities.

Mr Zucchi says it is imperative that the Victorian government dedicate ongoing funding and resources to coordinate a sustainable engagement strategy for multicultural communities before another disaster occurs.

“The ad hoc flood response we are seeing right now in regional Victoria once again highlights the need for a coordinated approach to the prevention, planning and management of emergencies—before they happen,” he said. “We need emergency planning that’s engaged with the needs of local multicultural communities. We know what works, but effective, culturally appropriate communication and place-based support require ongoing dedicated resources and infrastructure.”

The need to engage multicultural communities in the emergency management process was highlighted in a joint ECCV-VCOSS report released last month. The report made a series of recommendations emphasising that culturally appropriate, community-led engagement is key to building disaster resilience and ensuring positive outcomes in the event of an emergency.

“COVID-19 has taught us the importance of engaging multicultural communities in emergency management. It’s time to put these lessons into action. Multicultural communities can’t continue to be an afterthought,” Mr Zucchi said.

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