Associate Professor Michelle Villeneuve  Deputy Director, Centre for Disability Research and Policy, University of SydneyIt was an honour to join my team on stage to receive the 2023 Resilient Australia National Award at the National Award Ceremony in Perth on 22 November for our Person-Centred Emergency Preparedness Certificate Course. With me were representatives from each of the groups who are advancing inclusive approaches to disaster risk reduction in their communities.

At the Centre for Disability Research and Policy at the University of Sydney, we have been working in partnership to co-design new ways of working that ensure people with disability and their support needs are at the centre of disaster preparation and planning. Together, we are advancing disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction through shared learning, local collaborative actions and the co-production of tools that everyone can use. For nearly a decade, this sustained partnership research involved meaningful and active participation of people with disability, their supporting services, government, non-government, and emergency services personnel working together to develop tools and training as well as programmatic guidance on person-centred and capability-focused approaches to policy and practices that leave nobody behind.

The course is a major outcome of this partnership effort and is a co-designed, nationally consistent education that has bridged the gap on how to enable responsibility-sharing between emergency services, people with disability and the services that support them. The self-paced, activity-based online modules bring learners together to develop the knowledge and skills to prepare ourselves and others to anticipate, plan and respond effectively to disaster risks through tailored preparedness planning and cross-sector collaborative action.

The course is a foundation for other initiatives to advance risk reduction at the local level. Last year, we partnered with the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR) to host the Leave Nobody Behind webinar series. Over 3 events, the series explored tangible actions that people can take to ensure disability inclusion in emergency management practices and policy decision-making.

Following on from the Leave Nobody Behind webinar series, Australia’s first National Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction Forum was hosted in June 2023. In partnership with the NSW Government and AIDR, the University of Sydney showcased research gathered through the Leave Nobody Behind project and worked with forum participants on how learnings can be applied to the translation and scaling of risk reduction tools at a national level. The seeds we have planted are germinating across Australia and we are thrilled that the Certificate Course has supported a nationally consistent approach to disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction.

A key element of reducing disaster risk is making it inclusive. We have made significant progress by working to co-design actions for risk reduction. There has been significant progress made on developing the evidence base for these actions as a result of the Australian Research Council Linkage Project to advance and scale disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction initiatives. I am so proud to see the work of the Leave Nobody Behind project shared nationally and the Certificate Course recognised at the 2023 Resilient Australia Awards for its contribution to increasing emergency preparedness and facilitating cross-sector collaboration to make sure that nobody is left behind when disasters strike.

For each of the winners and finalists across the 6 award categories, the awards have provided an important platform to share knowledge and advance disaster resilience and risk reduction at a national scale.

I encourage you to learn more about the winning and highly commended projects on page 62 in this edition of the Australian Journal of Emergency Management, and hope you find inspiration in what they have achieved and contributed to resilience building in Australia.