Emergency Broadcasting: what you need to know

Katrina Hughes, 20th January 2020

Increasingly community broadcasters are taking on the responsibility of providing warnings and other information to their communities in times of emergency. It is absolutely vital that community broadcasters provide accurate information to listeners from official sources.

Primary responsibility for the protection of life, property and the environment rests with the states and territories. State and territory emergency management agencies have full autonomy in relation to:

  • whether and when to issue an emergency warning
  • which delivery mechanisms to use to disseminate the emergency warning
  • the content of the warning.

Individual states and territories choose which warning technologies to adopt and when to activate them in accordance with the specific circumstances of an incident. All states and territories have disaster emergency plans that include a communications component for the dissemination of rapid onset emergency warnings to the community. Nationally agreed emergency warning principles also underpin warning arrangements.


Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience

The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR) develops, maintains and shares knowledge and learning to support a disaster resilient Australia. Building on extensive knowledge and experience in Australia and internationally, we work with government, communities, NGOs, not-for-profits, research organisations, education partners and the private sector to enhance disaster resilience through innovative thinking, professional development and knowledge sharing.

To this end, the AIDR has developed the Knowledge Hub, a national platform that supports and informs policy, planning, decision making and contemporary good practice in disaster resilience. Community broadcasters are encouraged to refer to the following handbooks from the Knowledge Hub. 

This guideline is a companion document to the Public Information and Warnings Handbook. It provides guidance on republishing warnings during emergencies for established emergency broadcasters, individuals and community members and private warning publishers or disseminators. It outlines key considerations for those who may be working with or sharing content for warnings. 

This guideline is a companion document to the Public Information and Warnings Handbook. It provides guidance on key considerations for writing effective warning messages, a proposed structure for a warning message, specific language to use when constructing messages, and suggestions for constructing warning messages for non-English speaking audiences.


Dart Center Asia Pacific

The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, a project of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, is dedicated to informed, innovative and ethical news reporting on violence, conflict and tragedy. The Dart Center provides journalists around the world with the resources necessary to meet this challenge, drawing on a global, interdisciplinary network of news professionals, mental health experts, educators and researchers. The Dart Centre offer the following resources:

  • Resources for Covering the Australian Bushfires - Resources for journalists on covering disaster and recovery, interviewing victims and survivors, and working with colleagues exposed to traumatic events.
  • Self Care Tips for News Media - Tips to assist in fostering healthier newsrooms and better journalism, based on research findings on well-being and resilience and the practical experience of news professionals in the field.
  • Working With Victims and Survivors - Journalists, researchers and mental health professionals offer advice on how to deal with people caught up in tragic events.


CBAA Webinar

Watch a recording of the CBAA Webinar, Emergency Broadcasting - Resources & Best Practice, held on 15 January 2020


Other Resources

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Summer is here and, unfortunately, that means increased chance of emergencies such as bushfires. Community radio stations can play an important role in sharing warnings and information with communities.


Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements releases report.


*Past webinar, click through to watch recording.* 

Knowing how trauma impacts individuals, communities and whole societies allows community broadcasters to build skill sets that can inform and enrich their work. Our webinar aims to equip broadcasters to stay resilient and effective in the face of trauma.