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On The Frontline In Emergencies: a practical guide for communities and community services organisations

Community service organisations are often on the frontline in emergencies. Whether it is providing emergency relief and shelter or longer-term support, they are often the ones the community first turn to for help.

A new guide, prepared by Berry Street, aims to help the community and community service organisations respond effectively to emergencies through each phase of emergency management: planning, response, relief and recovery.

In a clear and concise way, On The Frontline In Emergencies: a practical guide for communities and community services organisations outlines what to expect, issues that may emerge, and what works at the various stages of the emergency management cycle.

On The Frontline In Emergencies: a practical guide for communities and community services

On The Frontline In Emergencies: a practical guide for communities and community services

Berry Street has facilitated a range of community services over the years, including the areas of family support, mental health, housing, family violence, foster care, sexual assault, drug and alcohol use and children and young people, emergency relief, Centrelink services and the volunteer resource centre in the Shire of Murrindindi.

In February 2009, Murrindindi was hit the hardest by the Black Saturday bushfires, with 95 lives lost and more than 1400 private, public and commercial properties destroyed. Along with other agencies and organisations, Berry Street moved to provide immediate support. It was later invited by Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services to play a formal, long-term role in response and recovery.

Berry Street became the largest non-government provider of the Victorian Bushfire Case Management Service, employing more than 50 case managers to work with fire affected individuals, families and communities in the shires of Murrundindi, Mitchell and Nillumbik.

Having learned valuable lessons in the aftermath of the Black Saturday bushfires, Berry Street is now committed to sharing this knowledge as widely as possible.

Download the Guide ( 6,094 KB, PDF )

While On The Frontline In Emergencies: a practical guide for communities and community services organisations is not intended to provide comprehensive advice for all issues that communities might face following an emergency event, it does provide a checklist for issues likely to emerge and where best practice responses might be found or developed.

While it aims to assist community service organisations, many of the experiences and lessons may apply also to government agencies, emergency services, and broader communities. It may also inform other relevant stakeholders, such as the media.

Areas the guide covers include:

  • Emergency response: the early days
  • The longer haul – case management, funding and resources
  • Staffing – recruitment, funding and support
  • Looking after the team
  • Funding – for those affected and those assisting
  • Media
  • Community recovery
  • Trauma and vulnerability – who is at risk?
  • Children – they won’t ‘just get over it’
  • After the rush – longer-term recovery .

VCOSS welcomes Berry Street’s new guide, which adds to the ongoing work and lessons learned from the 2009 bushfires.

Download the Guide (6,094 KB, PDF)