Disaster management has become a more familiar concept for more Victorians over the last couple of years.
While this is a sad and anxiety-inducing truth, the community service workers on the front lines of disaster management – whether in bushfire recovery, heatwave awareness or pandemic response – are working in ways that can make communities stronger.
They recognise the value of establishing trusted relationships and networks pre-disaster. These pre-existing networks can adapt to any kind of emergency, whereas it can be too late to build relationships from scratch once a disaster hits.
This was a major takeaway from the presentations at the eighth annual joint emergency management forum co-hosted by VCOSS and the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV).
The theme of the forum was Collaborating for Community. Collaboration allows organisations from different sectors to coordinate their services and utilise each other’s strengths.
The four speakers from across Victoria outlined a range of local projects that demonstrate the importance of collaboration in emergency preparation, response and recovery. The projects all rely on mobilising existing links throughout local communities.
Presentations and resources
Louise Scheidl from Albury Wodonga Health outlined My Place My Home, which nourished young people’s wellbeing through creative arts in bushfire-affected regions in the Shire of Towong.
Heather Lawson from enliven discussed Hot Spots, which built heatwave awareness among culturally and linguistically diverse communities in the City of Dandenong.
Cheree Jukes from Mildura Rural City Council reflected on the Covid-19 Emergency Relief Response, which provided local community members with food relief, shopping assistance, medication pick-up and other essential needs.
Jo Brown from Southern Grampians Glenelg Primary Care Partnership explained the Collaboration for Community Resilience (COVID-19) Network, which shared understanding of the impacts of the pandemic to identify gaps and opportunities to respond.
The VCOSS-MAV Emergency Management Forums engage state and local governments, community service organisations, emergency service organisations and a range of other stakeholders to build resilience and to help deliver enhanced emergency planning, response, relief and recovery. Through the sharing of information and experiences, the forums continue to encourage collaboration and cooperation across the emergency management sector.