An Assessment of Policies Guiding School Emergency Disaster Management for Students With Disabilities in Australia
Article first published online: 14 MAR 2012
© 2012 International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disabilities and Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities
Volume 9, Issue 1, pages 17–26, March 2012
How to Cite
Boon, H. J., Pagliano, P., Brown, L. and Tsey, K. (2012), An Assessment of Policies Guiding School Emergency Disaster Management for Students With Disabilities in Australia. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 9: 17–26. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-1130.2012.00331.x
- Issue published online: 14 MAR 2012
- Article first published online: 14 MAR 2012
- Received June 18, 2011; accepted December 3, 2011
- disaster planning;
- intellectual disabilities;
- school emergency management
Recent weather-related disasters (i.e., floods, fires) impacting Australia may potentially increase in frequency and severity as a result of predicted climate variability. The dearth of literature pertaining to school emergency response planning for vulnerable students with disabilities (including those with intellectual disabilities) when such disasters occur and the lack of evidence-based support for school guidelines addressing the needs of such students led the authors to investigate the presence and extent of governmental policies and guidelines underpinning disaster management in schools in Australia. In the absence of routine policies and procedures, students with disabilities may be placed at risk to ill-advised evacuation efforts or neglected during severe emergencies. The study's results indicate that insufficient consideration has been given to the emergency preparedness planning and management with respect to meeting needs of vulnerable students with disabilities. The findings suggest that disaster preparedness is underresourced and possibly neglected. Although the particular needs of vulnerable students with disabilities are briefly noted in the various state governments' education policies, they have not been systematically considered in the context of overall disaster planning for Australian schools, with the ambiguity of student characterization terms such as “special needs” adding to the problem. The study also scrutinized the terms with respect how they might impact school plans that relate to emergency management. The authors conclude that processes already embedded in local schools for students with disabilities may be possible vehicles to appropriate statewide emergency management planning. They recommend that education authorities worldwide review current emergency management policies in a consultative manner with schools, researchers, first responders, and carers so as to minimize risk for students with disabilities in natural disaster emergencies.