Council’s Volunteer Emergency Management Project
Golden Plains Shire experienced a major community trauma on 27 March 2013 with a destructive bushfire in Dereel. The bushfire claimed 18 dwellings, nearly 1,300 hectares of land across 119 properties, and affected families, individuals and community groups alike.
The subsequent response and recovery efforts would not have been possible without the significant contribution of volunteers such as Red Cross or other emergency organisations and other spontaneous volunteers.
Following this, it became clear the Shire as a whole was not prepared for the volunteer coordination required during an event of this scale and systems were developed ‘on the hop’ as the need unfolded.
Following the event, Council conducted a community survey to identify the issues and the gaps in their emergency volunteer management. The issues identified were lack of coordination, no registration processes, lack of defined roles and management structures, no guidelines and resources and no training and support for volunteers.
The subsequent work that Council has undertaken has set out to address the inefficiencies and gaps by providing strategic direction and the implementation of operational structures for the effective and efficient management of volunteers before, during and after an emergency.
It has brought about the development of the Golden Plains Shire Volunteer Emergency Management Plan, corresponding Operations Manuals and practical resource for those involved in volunteer management.
The project has enabled Council to set up systems that mobilise a pre-registered and screened team of local Council volunteers who can be ‘first responders’ in an emergency and who have the skills and training to support other spontaneous volunteers in the relief and recovery phases of an emergency.
Golden Plains Shire Council has been a key stakeholder in Volunteering Victoria’s HelpOut project and the Managers of Spontaneous Emergency Volunteers (MSEV) project and has embedded these complementary program structures and systems into our internal emergency management processes.
Golden Plains Shire Volunteer Emergency Management project has established the following elements:
- A Volunteer Emergency Management Plan that sits in our Municipal Emergency Management Plan
- Two Emergency Management Operation Manuals for the Manager of Disaster Volunteers (MDV) and the Disaster Volunteers Coordination Team (DVCT) members
- Emergency Volunteer Induction Manual and registration documentation
- Position Descriptions established for roles that are common across a range of disaster situation
- Emergency Volunteer Administration box that is accommodated on our Relief and Recovery Trailer
- Five dedicated Volunteer Support Areas established within our Relief and Recovery centres
- A structure that engages up to 20 pre-registered, screened and trained volunteers that form our Disaster Volunteer Coordination Team (DVCT) members
- Management structures that incorporates the utilisation of MSEV and HelpOut programs
- Data-based program that captures deployment activity of volunteers.
If you are interested in finding out more about Council’s Volunteer Emergency Management Project then call Caroline, Council’s Volunteer Coordinator on 5220 7216 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you wold like to volunteer in an emergency should it occur in the future, then register your interest on HelpOut at http://volunteeringvictoria.org.au/emergency-volunteering. HelpOut will be the database that Council will draw it’s volunteering support from in future events.