Your organisation works hard to support your clients and community to live their lives to their best ability. What would happen to the people that rely on you if something was to happen that meant that your services were compromised or had to be discontinued for a period of time due to a disaster?
A study conducted by ACOSS found that most Community Services Organisations would be highly vulnerable and unprepared if faced with an extreme weather event or natural disaster. 50% believed that they would be unable to operate for at least a week if an extreme weather event severely damaged their service centres or offices and 25% believed that this damage could cause their service to close permanently.
There are a number of resources that you can use to help your organisation be better prepared for an emergency, allowing you to continue to serve your community or re-open your services faster to support your clients in difficult times.
Resilient Community Organisations
ACOSS have developed a fantastic resource to help organisations measure and improve their resilience to disasters and emergencies. The Toolkit includes:
- A benchmarking system so organisations can assess their current state of preparedness for disasters and emergencies and identify areas of improvement.
- Six Steps to Disaster Resilience, which provide information and resources organisations need to take action.
The Toolkit can be downloaded here.
Business Continuity Plan Template
SACOSS developed this Business Continuity Plan Template as a resource to assist community service providers to consider what risks might be relevant to your organisations, develop strategies to respond and minimise the impact of those risks for your business, staff and clients so that your organisation can continue to function safely. Some examples of possible content are provided as a base to fill in your own details
Emergency, disaster and extreme weather policy and procedure template
SACOSS has developed this Emergency, disaster and extreme weather policy and procedure template as an example for community service providers to amend to suit their own organisational needs and structures. The policies and procedures address the needs of the organisation, staff and clients in the event of an emergency, disaster or extreme weather event.
Emergency, disaster and extreme weather policy and procedure template can be downloaded here.
Aged Care Emergency Planning
The Department for Health and Aged Care have clear requirements of service providers and have developed resources for organisations providing residential care, home care or the commonwealth home support program. You can find more information here.
Person-Centred Emergency Preparedness (PCEP): A Process Tool and Framework for Enabling Disaster Preparedness with People with Chronic Health Conditions and Disability
Developed by the University of Sydney and funded under the joint state and commonwealth natural disaster resilience program, the PCEP tool is designed for use by community health and disability providers to enable emergency preparedness in others. The PCEP can be used to facilitate meaningful conversations with clients in the community that raise awareness about emergency preparedness to: improve emergency preparedness for people with chronic health conditions and disability reduce negative consequences of disaster triggered by natural hazard emergencies, and improve recovery following a natural hazard event.
The PCEP tool is available here.
Preparing for a disaster
Red Cross has a host of useful emergency management resources that can help you prepare for disasters, including resources in easy English, Auslan and tailored for people who are older, living with chronic health conditions or disabilities. You can find more information here.
Disaster response and recovery guide
Berry Street is a not-for-profit organisation that has been supporting Victorian children and families since 1877, working with children, young people and families with the most challenging and complex needs. This recovery guide has been informed by the work Berry Street undertook after the Black Saturday bushfires and is designed to be a guide for other non-government organisations as they plan their approach to disaster response and recovery.
The disaster response and recovery guide is available here.
There are many different types of emergencies that organisations can be faced with and need to handle. Holding discussions during ‘peace time’ about the various scenarios that could occur can ensure that your staff and volunteers are better equipped for a real event as well as potentially picking up any issues that haven’t previously been considered.
Utilise these scenarios as quick exercises in team meetings to promote conversations about emergency preparedness and organisational procedures or use them to trigger deeper discussions when updating emergency plans.
Contact your local Council for information about local emergency risks and local government plans for response and recovery.