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Working with refugees to build disaster resilience

Working with refugees to build disaster resilience

Image: Shefali Juneja Lakhina and refugees.

With support from Australian Research Council (ARC) funding, University of Wollongong (UOW) PhD student Shefali Juneja Lakhina is working with refugee families across the Illawarra to understand how they learn about and prepare for natural hazards, such as bushfires, storms and flash flooding. 

“It is important for people to feel safe as they arrive in Australia, especially for those who come from conditions of extreme risk with the hope of finding safe refuge,” said Ms Lakhina, who is pursuing her PhD at UOW’s Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research.

Working in a collaboration with ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) recipient Dr Christine Eriksen, and with additional support from a NSW Office of Emergency Management grant, Ms Lakhina's doctoral research initiative, Resilient Together, aims to work with people from diverse refugee backgrounds to create a disaster-resilient Illawarra.

Ms Lakhina said there are three overlooked areas that can be critical to ensuring refugee communities are aware of and prepared for the risks that come with living in Australia: timely access to hazard and risk information; access to safe and secure housing; and culturally appropriate support to prepare their home and families for daily and seasonal hazards.

Representatives from Illawarra councils, emergency services, and community organisations, as well as members of the region’s refugee community are now working with Ms Lakhina to engage refugee households in the Illawarra and pinpoint how to build disaster resilience.

Media issued by the University of Wollongong.

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