Type of practice: Government bodies
Country: Australia
Name of Stakeholder: Government of Australia
Type of Stakeholder Implementing the Practice: Host State, Migrants and the Diaspora
Type of crisis: Conflict, Natural Disaster
Crisis phase: Crisis Preparedness, Emergency Response

Related Links: Volunteer fire brigade thriving after recruiting migrants


A small brigade in Melbourne's southeast has undertaken a recruitment plan targeting migrants and refugees. The plan to recruit refugees and migrants as volunteer firefighters saved the brigade from closing its doors, filling the gap in volunteers. The implementation of the plan did not come without challenges, many of which have been overcome, including the language barrier. The brigade worked with the Adult Migration Education Services in particular in order to establish some of the words used day to day in the fire brigade. The brigade, which is totally reliant on volunteers, has increased its members to more than 50, with almost half of those born overseas. The increased numbers has had a great impact on the brigade's capabilities. Victoria's Country Fire Authority is encouraging other brigades to look at similar recruitment drives.

Guidelines/Thematic Areas

Preparedness and emergency response systems

GUIDELINE 4: Incorporate migrants in prevention, preparedness, and emergency response systems

States and other stakeholders have laws, policies, and programs on prevention, preparedness, and emergency response to reduce the impact of crises. Taking into account the presence of migrants, their vulnerabilities, and their potential needs in prevention, preparedness, and emergency response frameworks, including on disaster risk reduction (DRR), can promote resilience in the event of a conflict or natural disaster. Clear laws and policies on migrants’ eligibility for different types of assistance in the event of a crisis promote certainty. If the presence of migrants is not known or is inadequately incorporated in planning, stakeholders may overlook migrants in their responses. If stakeholders fail to appreciate factors that make migrants vulnerable, such as language barriers, isolated working conditions, irregular immigration status, or mistrust of authorities, responses may be ineffective. When laws and policies are unclear, responses towards migrants can be unpredictable and insufficient.

Migrants themselves and civil society may be in the best position to assist States and other stakeholders to appreciate the presence of migrants, their vulnerability, and needs. In this respect, involving migrants and civil society in the development of prevention, preparedness, and emergency response measures can be helpful. Such actions also build trust between migrant populations and State and non-State actors who provide protection.

Migrants and civil society also have capacities and resources that they can contribute to preparedness and emergency response. Their language abilities, first-hand knowledge of migrant populations, understanding of cultural norms within their communities, and ability to foster greater trust toward State authorities and other actors can be leveraged to create more comprehensive and effective systems and programs.

Sample Practices

  • Platforms to facilitate the engagement of migrants in the design and implementation of prevention, preparedness, and emergency response systems.
  • Taking migrants into account in national and local frameworks on prevention, preparedness, and emergency response, including by recognizing migrants as a specific group with needs and capacities.
  • Recruitment of migrants as staff or volunteers in prevention, preparedness, and emergency response mechanisms.