Longer term individual and community needs after natural disaster: The experience of Central Queensland

Lifeline (as part of UnitingCare Community), along with other government and non-government organisations is a key signatory for the provision of Community Recovery Services following a disaster.

Following the 2010-2011 flood disasters in Queensland, Lifeline Queensland, became concerned about the level of ongoing medium to longer term support available for the many rural and remote areas of Queensland. The organisation decided that it was important to evaluate the services provided in these communities and developed a research project that was attached to the service provision.

The purpose of the research was to evaluate need for such services, explore the impact for previously vulnerable individuals, explore engagement methods, evaluate effectiveness, look at changing needs across time, and look at general community needs and service delivery gaps. The research was a mixed model design. Quantitative data about individuals seeking counselling from UnitingCare Community recovery counsellors was gathered from a survey completed by the counsellor.

The survey consisted of the following domains: engagement, identified issues, relationships, health and social supports. Interviews were conducted with community recovery counsellors to gather qualitative data on the impact of the disasters on regions and individuals. The most frequently reported issues were financial stress, property damage, personal health, and relationship breakdowns; leading to a high demand for counselling services.

The services had a notable impact on the welfare of respondents, with most measures of individual well-being improving over the initial four quarters of the survey. Such measures include client mental health, depression, level of anxiety, feelings of support, and coping levels. Nevertheless, there was a decline across the measures for the clients in the final quarter of the survey.

The Australian & New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference¬† would like to thank Dr Sharon Atkin, State Manager Research, UnitingCare Community for presenting this seminar at the previous conference in May 2013 held at the Mercure Brisbane.¬† Dr Atkin’s presentation is available to listen to via podcast on our website as are most of the other presentations from that event.¬† CLICK HERE to download them

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