It’s On The Radio! Cairns Multi-Cultural Communities in Emergency Broadcasting

The 2018 Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference is almost here again, this year the Conference will be held over the 21-22 May at The Star Gold Coast.

Mrs Sioux Campbell, Disaster Management Resilience Officer with Cairns Regional Council joins us at the Conference to discuss It’s On The Radio! Cairns Multi-Cultural Communities in Emergency Broadcasting’.


In an era of electronic and digital technologies, it’s easy to forget the basics. Nowhere in disaster management is this truer than in public communication, when the ability to send and receive timely, accurate information is critical. The best of internet connections is no substitute for an old-fashioned battery powered radio when the electricity fails or systems go down. Recommendations from reviews of local government emergency warning capabilities and the experiences of residents in recent events such as STC Debbie show the often underestimated value of this medium.

The importance of information transfer between disaster managers and multi-cultural communities was made clear in Cairns during TC Yasi and has continued to be a priority theme in community resilience development. In a region with an ongoing migrant settlement programme, significant permanent migrant communities and burgeoning overseas visitor numbers, the ability to communicate promptly and accurately in languages other than English is essential.

Cairns Community Radio 89.1FM is the only station in Far North Queensland broadcasting locally based, multi-cultural delivery and content. It provides listeners with a unique connection in a range of languages and cultural origins. Through existing relationships with multi-cultural groups and the radio station, a partnership project emerged to train current presenters and interested community members in emergency broadcasting practices, gather oral stories of disaster experiences from cultural community members for future broadcasts, create multi-lingual disaster service announcements and build on-site emergency broadcast capability at the local disaster coordination centre. These inspiring new services enhance existing on-site broadcast arrangements with ABC Far North, providing a sustainable multi-cultural emergency communications platform with active community engagement.

Sioux Campbell is the disaster management resilience officer for the Cairns region and is is a multi-award winner in the fields of public relations, community engagement and resilience. She has extensive experience in crisis management and community engagement in challenging environmental management issues. Sioux is a life member of the NZ Association for Environmental Education, a Fellow of the Public Relations Institute of NZ, holds an advanced certificate of practice with the International Association for Public Participation and is an ambassador for that organisation in Far North Queensland. As a former radio journalist, she has a particular empathy with the topic of her presentation for this conference!

For more information on the 2018 Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference and to secure your spot, visit the conference website.