The EmerCALD (Emergency Communications for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities) team based at the SMART Infrastructure Facility, has been awarded the Community Innovation Award as part of the Illawarra Multicultural Awards announced last week.

After receiving a UOW Community Engagement Grant in 2018, Associate Research Fellow (Critical Infrastructure), Dr Robert Ogie, partnered with Associate Professor Rodney Clarke, the NSW State Emergency Services (SES) and the Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra (MCCI) to form EmerCALD. Together they identified inadequacies in emergency communication, which was predominantly being disseminated in English, proving problematic for preparing and warning CALD communities about impending disasters.

The EmerCALD team worked with more than 450 members of the top seven CALD groups in the Illawarra (Macedonian, Italian, Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish, Serbian and Greek) to have messages from the SES translated and validated to help drive behavioural change and risk awareness within those community groups.

The team has endeavoured to ensure that project outcome reflects not just the preferences of each CALD community, but also how these preferences change with demographics as well as confidence in the English language.

The outcomes from this work are likely to set a precedent for delivering emergency messages in multiple languages across Australia and beyond.