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Emergency planning session - people sitting in a room and discussing

Emergency planning for pets and livestock

Protecting the animals in our lives | Emergency planning for pets and livestock


Protecting the animals in our lives (whether they are valuable livestock or much loved pets) against future natural hazards is an essential element of emergency planning.

Last month, an emergency planning for pets and livestock workshop was held in Taree, New South Wales. Targeted at farmers and landowners, the purpose of the workshop was to promote shared evacuation response planning, and provide opportunities for sharing best practices to protect pets, animals and livelihoods. According to local farmer and participant Bill Archinal, the workshops also provided an opportunity for landholders and farmers to “tell their side of the story”. Locals could talk about what preparations they did, what worked and what didn’t.


The importance of lived experience


Funding of $468,000 through the Australian Government’s Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Program, is enabling the University of Newcastle, in partnership with Hunter Local Land Services, to deliver a suite of activities that will investigate infrastructure assessment, assess the operational capacity of identified Animal Safe Places, support effective emergency evacuation planning, and build the resilience of key agricultural sector and economies in the region.

The Emergency planning for pets and livestock workshop at Taree is part of the community engagement workshops to be held across a number of Local Government Areas (LGAs). Stakeholders include council officers, pet owners, landholders, farm owners, land care groups and community members.

The lived experience shared during the workshop will help inform the University as to how emergency plans should be developed for farmers and landowners especially around decisions to evacuate livestock and pets.


Knowing when and if to evacuate is essential


Dr Temitope Egbelakin, Professor at the University of Newcastle, outlined that the workshop also helped local farmers understand their own particular vulnerability and how to plan to address this.

“We’re helping them develop their emergency plans, including livestock and pets, to decide whether to evacuate - and what, where and how they need to evacuate.”


Communication of emergency plans is key


Rob Henderson, Emergency Management Team Leader at Hunter Local Land Services, acknowledged that it is hard to predict what fires are going to do or where the best places to move stock to safety are. He stressed the importance of landholders sharing their evacuation plans with their neighbours.

“What we’re suggesting is if they communicate those plans to their neighbours, they’ve got a better chance of getting a strategic result that’s to the benefit of them and their animals.”

Heidi Chappelow, Emergency Management Project Officer at Hunter Local Land Services, spoke about the need for much greater and effective communication across the community and government agencies. Heidi reaffirmed that the workshops are helping improve communication, which in turn improves systems and increases levels of self-responsibility in emergency planning and preparing for bushfires.

Heidi spoke to how communities are being impacted year after year by increasingly intense and frequent disasters. With this inevitability of future natural hazards and the availability of a lot of local knowledge, “It is time to invite communities and all agencies to step up to get better prepared,” said Heidi.

Rob Henderson said that the workshops provided first-hand experience information, and he went onto talk about the importance of the role of agencies in supporting communities to get prepared for future fire seasons and other natural hazards.

“With these workshops, we want to hear how we can contribute towards the end result of the community feeling safer and give them the confidence if they have decided to evacuate that this is the way to go about it.”



About this project

Who: University of Newcastle and Hunter Local Land Services

What: Climate-Smart Adaptive Resilience and Engagement for Animal Evacuation

Program funding: Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Program

Benefits delivered: Multi-hazard assessment of 25 identified Animal Safe Places to service the Hunter Region; evacuation feasibility for animals and livestock; Climate-Smart Adaptive Resilience Design Handbook upgrading Animal Safe places; Development of Animal Safe Places Register; Skills Development and Capacity Building for Emergency Animal Welfare; Animal evacuation awareness and communication campaign

Project end date: 31 March 2024