The intersections of emergency management, Indigenous land management, climate justice, LGBTIQA+ discrimination and violence against women will be focal points of a virtual, international conference hosted by the Gender and Disaster Pod (GAD Pod), a partnership project between Women’s Health Goulburn North East, Women’s Health in the North and the Monash University Disaster Resilience Initiative.

The Gender Justice in Disaster: Inspiring Action conference will take place in May, bringing together experts and delegates from across the globe to consider how an understanding of gender and the lived experience of women, men and gender-diverse people can inform contemporary emergency planning and response.

GAD Pod manager Dr Debra Parkinson said the highly anticipated conference would build on the successful national Diversity in Disaster conference, held in 2018, and was coming at a pivotal time, given recent Australian experiences of bushfire, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re in a unique position to share our knowledge right now, as we begin the slow recovery from the Black Summer bushfires of a year ago and the compounding effect of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr Parkinson said.

“The conference will be an opportunity for us to explore the valuable lessons we have learnt in Australia – a country known as the ‘climate change canary’ – which will have application in other parts of the world.”

GAD Pod associate and Fire Rescue Victoria’s Steve O’Malley AFSM has played a key role in bringing the conference to fruition.

“The award-winning work of the GAD Pod has framed much of this conversation in Australia over the past decade, and we’re looking forward to deepening it with insights from international and national gender and emergency management experts,” Mr O’Malley said.

This conference will give voice to the experience of people who have lived through disaster, bringing together disparate sectors, all with much to offer an improved approach to emergency management.

Dr Parkinson said the event promised to be provoking and challenging, and to spur individuals, communities and organisations to incorporate gender justice in their disaster planning and response.

“This virtual event allows us to include speakers from across the globe and offers registration to delegates everywhere,” Dr Parkinson said.

“International guest presenters will bring perspectives from the UK, New Zealand, the Pacific, south-east and south Asia, Iceland, the UK, the US and more.”

The conference consists of four parts, commencing with 30-minute online “lead-in” sessions hosted by Australian and international experts, and enriched by those with lived experience, every Tuesday and Thursday in April.

An official in-person conference launch, ‘Women at the Edge: Disaster and Beyond’, will be staged at The Wheeler Centre, Melbourne on Tuesday 4 May, with Victorian Minister for Women, the Hon. Gabrielle Williams set to open the event.

The event, which will explore how and why gender justice is such a critical part of disaster planning and response, will also feature Commissioner for Gender Equality in the Public Sector Dr Niki Vincent, former Independent MP for Indi Cathy McGowan and RMIT researcher Dr Meagan Tyler, moderated by Fire Rescue Victoria Commander Donna Wheatley.

The conference itself will follow every Tuesday afternoon and Thursday morning in May via 90-minute Zoom panel sessions, with participants hearing from more than 30 researchers, policy makers and people with lived experience of gender and disaster.

The Gender Justice in Disaster conference is supported by key emergency management organisations and the Australian Institute of Disaster Resilience.

Registration for the conference is essential. For the conference program, information and registrations, visit


For more information or further comment contact:

Dr Debra Parkinson

Gender and Disaster Pod Manager and Adjunct Research Fellow, Monash University Disaster Resilience Initiative

0423 646 930

Steve O’Malley, AFSM,

Fire Rescue Victoria and GAD Pod Associate

0400 753 322