Dr Debra Parkinson

Change Agent

After Black Saturday in 2009, Debra Parkinson and her colleague Claire Zara documented women’s experiences of violence, previously missing from the cultural story of disaster in Australia.  

Debra earned a PhD on this. In her role with Women’s Health Goulburn North East (WHGNE) and Women’s Health In the North (WHIN), she implemented the first conference on the hidden disaster of violence against women in disaster. She led the first research and conference in Australia on men’s experiences of disaster. 

With WHGNE, WHIN and Monash University Disaster Resilience Initiative, Debra established the Gender and Disaster Pod and the first (Victorian) Taskforce on Gender and Disaster in 2015. In 2016, Debra led the co-development of National Gender and Emergency Management Guidelines. 

Debra continues to foreground the relevance of gender to emergency management through a focus on gendered expectations, barriers to women in firefighting, lesbian and bi women’s experiences of disaster, and long-term disaster resilience.