A uniquely Queensland story of strong disaster management in the context of climate change is the focus of a new Griffith University produced film.

The 50-minute documentary Dealing with Disasters: The Silent Achievers in Public Health provides a compelling look at the efforts of Queensland’s public health workers, and those they collaborated with, to manage a large-scale and intense set of disasters: the Summer of Sorrow.

In 2010-2011, eighty per cent of the enormous state of Queensland was beset by severe flooding and cyclones. Over close to a year, public health workers, in collaboration with emergency management, local government, and the NGO sector, worked tirelessly to prevent loss of life, outbreaks of disease, and other harms.

“With our changing climate increasingly creating more extreme events and disasters, there is more need than ever to be able to manage those disasters,” says Professor Cordia Chu, the film’s co-producer from Griffith’s Centre for Environment and Population Health (CEPH).

“While many people are aware of uniformed emergency responders and their heroic acts during disasters, an important group of people at the front lines of disaster management work behind the scenes to keep communities safe: those in public health.

“From prevention planning, to responding to the aftermath of the disasters, public health worked within the emergency management system to tackle challenge after challenge, and to help the community to care for themselves and stay healthy and safe throughout the turmoil.”

Help from Griffith Film School

The film – produced by Professor Chu and Elena Schak from CEPH, with help from the Griffith Film School – will be screened at an official launch event on June 12, attended by Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young and representatives from theenvironment and disaster management sectors including international dignitaries. A series of later public events are scheduled for August.

Professor Chu says the film is intended to serve many purposes including being used as a training and educational film for CEPH and its international partners; as an advocacy film to promote awareness of the increasing importance of public health in today’s climate changing world and also to add settle the academic debate about the need to link disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and health.