6.12 Relief and Recovery Services

Recovery from emergencies is a developmental process of assisting individuals and communities to manage the re-establishment of those elements of society necessary for their wellbeing.

In some cases, it may be necessary to:

  • Evacuate.
  • Establish a Relief Centre.
  • Establish a Recovery Centre.

A decision to establish any of the above will be made in consultation between the MRM, Incident Controller and MERC, although it will depend on the type, location and extent of emergency.

6.12.1 Use of Community Networks

Recovery planners, coordinators and managers should always be aware of the value of existing community networks as a conduit for information delivery, needs identification and support of those affected.

Where possible and appropriate, recovery programs should work with and through these networks. Community networks that are functioning in an affected community should be actively engaged and supported in the recovery process.

In some instances networks may be present in the community but require additional support to enable them to function effectively as a recovery conduit to the community. Consideration will need to be given to the role of Social Media in any given event.

Examples of community networks may include:

  • Volunteer emergency services.
  • Church organisations.
  • School committees.
  • Service clubs.

6.12.2 Emergency Relief Centres

An Emergency Relief Centre is a building or place that has been activated for the provision of life support and essential personal needs for people affected by, or responding to an emergency, and is usually established on a temporary basis to cope with the immediate needs of those affected during the initial response to the emergency.

The Colac Otway Shire MERC will consult with the MERO and MRM or that of another Municipality MERC and their MERO and MRM before deciding to activate an ERC. Emergency Relief can also be provided at the site of the emergency. Emergency Relief and Recovery Centres will be opened once the nature, extent and location of an emergency event are known. Potential ERC locations are provided in Appendix 13 – Emergency Relief and Recovery Centres.

In deciding which Emergency Relief Centre(s) are to be activated, the following point swill be considered:

  • Location of centre in relation to the site of the emergency.
  • Access to the centre.
  • Size of ERC that is needed – based on anticipated numbers likely to attend.
  • Duration that ERC is to remain operational.
  • Facilities available at the ERC.
  • Security.

A State level working party has developed Emergency Relief Centre Guidelines and these will be used by Council’s Recovery Team.

6.12.3 Recovery Centres

A Recovery Centre is a building where affected communities are provided support to restore their emotional, social, economic and physical well-being. This support will include psychological (i.e. counselling), infrastructural (i.e. temporary accommodation), environmental (e.g. public health), and economic (e.g. financial assistance) services.

As a "One-Stop-Shop" the Recovery Centre will ensure that all agencies and stakeholders are properly integrated into the recovery process, at a single point of entry.

In large or prolonged emergencies, a relief centre may evolve into a recovery centre when the emergency response has concluded. This transition should be seamless, as the municipal council will continue to be responsible for the management of these centres. Coordination responsibility will pass from the Response Coordinator (Victoria Police) to the Recovery Coordinator (Local Government or Department of Human Services, depending on the scale of the recovery). This handover will occur only after agreement has been reached between the response and recovery coordinators, and after any necessary documentation has been completed to the mutual satisfaction of both coordinators.

With this possibility in mind, Councils should evaluate the appropriateness of potential sites for relief and/or recovery centres carefully, taking into account the possibility that the venue may be requested for recovery purposes for some considerable period after the response to the emergency has ended.

6.12.4 Assessment of community impact and needs

The Municipal Recovery Manager will appoint outreach teams to survey / assess the community in affected areas as indicated by the control agency. Impact assessments could be conducted by the LGA, Department of Environment and Primary Industries or other relevant agencies depending on the incident. A personal support practitioner should be included as part of the teams.

Prior to outreach teams being placed in the field, the area must be declared safe for this purpose by the control agency. This is to be arranged through the Municipal Emergency Coordination Centre (MECC).

The Municipal Recovery Manager or Deputy will brief outreach teams prior to deployment and will debrief teams at the completion of the allotted activity.

6.12.5 Communicating with the affected community

A vital component in empowering a community in its recovery process is the engagement and involvement of the affected community. The following communication options should be considered as part of the recovery process:

  • Dedicated phone line.
  • Advertisements within local newspapers.
  • Newsletters.
  • Media releases.
  • Facebook

The use of these options should be coordinated through the Municipal Recovery Manager in consultation with other key recovery and response agencies

Involving the community in the planning process may be undertaken in a variety of ways depending on the scale of the event and community interest and ability. There are a range of mechanisms for providing information to the public.

These may include, but are not limited to the following examples.

  • Community briefings. Community briefings may be conducted by response agencies as part of their role in keeping communities aware of the current emergency situation, before, during, and after incidents. Municipal recovery team members including a trained personal support practitioner should be part of the briefing team.

The role of community briefings in the recovery context is to:

  • Provide clarification of the emergency event control agency.
  • Provide advice on services available (recovery agencies).
  • Provide input into the development of management strategies (LGA).
  • Provide advice to affected individuals on how to manage their own recovery, including the provision of preventative health information (specialist advisers).
  • Community information sessions. As soon as practicable after an emergency, the Municipal Recovery Manager should arrange community information sessions. The development of these sessions are the first practical step in the process of ensuring a community is actively involved in the recovery management process. These sessions can also be used to support the development of community recovery committees.

Where the emergency has a criminal component, the municipality will need to consult with the investigating authority the necessity to restrict the content of the briefings/information sessions. Local agreements with response agencies who have responsibility for community briefings will be developed as part of the Municipal Emergency Management Plan.

6.11 Recovery Coordination

6.13 Community Recovery Committee