Over the past few years, communities across the State have been impacted by one disaster after another. From drought to bushfire, to floods and plagues. It is helpful to know that there is a structure that drives an emergency response and disaster recovery to ensure communities recover stronger and more resilient.
Right after an emergency, when the extent of the disaster is unfolding, for many people the first reaction is to seek out information to tell them what is happening. As a councillor leading your community in a time of crisis, people will look to you and your council as a source of accurate and up-to- date information.
Council’s role in emergency management
First, it is helpful to remind ourselves that recovery is part of a spectrum of emergency management that includes the broader components of prevention, preparedness and response. The PPRR model as it is known illustrates this connected cycle.
Source: Australian Institute of Disaster Resilience
Councils are involved in every phase of emergency management. In the immediate response phase, councils will engage with the local emergency management committee of which they are a key stakeholder, to work with emergency response agencies to preserve life, ensure community safety and reinstate essential services.
This response phase can be days or weeks depending on the nature of the emergency. This is the stage when constituents will be seeking out accurate and up-to-date information from council and councillors to ensure their safety and necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter. When in the thick of the response phase, it can be helpful to see the recovery journey ahead for you and your community.
Council’s role in disaster recovery
The recovery phase is generally a longer phase that includes physical, environmental and economic elements, as well as psychosocial and community wellbeing. It is typical for a council to prepare a disaster recovery action plan based on a specific event.
The National Principles for Disaster Recovery provide a framework for communities, agencies and government to guide their approach, planning and decision-making. Your council’s plan will likely use these principles:
- understand the context
- recognise complexity
- use community-led approaches
- coordinate all activities
- communicate effectively
- acknowledge and build capacity
Where to go for more information
The following websites provide practical and trusted information about emergency management response and disaster recovery:
- Resilience NSW leads disaster and emergency efforts from prevention to recovery
- The National Recovery and Resilience Agency supports families and communities across Australia on their disaster recovery journey
- The Australian Disaster Resilience Handbook Collection provides guidance on national principles and practices for disaster resilience