Reaching out to those hardest to reach

It's terrifying enough living through a natural disaster, but what if it's all new to you, and you have no idea how to get the information you need?

Recently-arrived migrants can be more at risk in disasters for this very reason. Australian Red Cross has trialled a new way of helping people to prepare in their new country.

Our emergency team worked with Arabic-speaking mothers and their children in Brisbane, explaining the types of disasters to expect, and what they need to do to prepare.

Each child got their own pillowcases as they talked about the things they'd pack in them, to start their very own disaster personal emergency kit.

Pillowcase is a special disaster resilience education program for children, which has so far reached 20,000 Year 3 and 4 students around Australia.

Suzanne Brangwin from our team in Queensland says disasters over the last few decades have shown that the challenges migrants face in accessing information, resources and services make them particularly vulnerable to the impacts of natural and man-made hazards.

Suzanne's colleague Sarah Elgenaidy delivered parts of the program in Arabic.

She says it's rewarding working with her own migrant community, and she loves seeing when the information has clicked.

"The mothers and families I know are very keen to learn how to prepare because some are new to Brisbane and one has previously been through a cyclone up north and they want to do all they can do protect their family," says Sarah.

"I ran into one of the children yesterday who said they had already started packing torches and food in the pillowcases!" she says.

"They also really appreciated learning in their first language as it's already difficult enough accessing the right information in their new country. And they also appreciated the efforts made to include their children in learning in Arabic."

This summer, Red Cross is asking all Australians to do one simple thing to help stay safer in emergencies:

• In five minutes you can start a conversation with your neighbours or family.

• In 30 minutes you can have your important details recorded safely in one place.

• In one hour you can pack an emergency kit to keep in your home.

"Being in an emergency is not something people usually think about, let alone talk about. But the more we talk about it, the better prepared we'll be when it happens. We think it's the most important thing you can do," Suzanne says.

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