Preparing people for all the consequences of emergencies

The 6th Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference will be held over the 22 – 23 May at The Star Gold Coast, Queensland.

Mr John Richardson, National Coordinator-Preparedness with the Australian Red Cross joins us in a few weeks on the Gold Coast to discuss Psych-social Preparedness: Preparing people for all the consequences of emergencies’.

After a review of Red Cross Rediplan in 2014/5, we focussed upon supporting people to build resilience around their thoughts, and feelings, and their relationships and networks. These two elements are at the core of what is defined as psycho-social .

Mr John Richardson

Red Cross provides psychosocial support before, during and after emergencies; which is based on five basic principles; promoting a sense of safety, promoting a sense of calm, promoting a sense of self and community efficacy, promoting connection, and instilling hope.

Applying these principles in a pre-emergency context helps link recovery directly with preparedness.

Most disaster preparedness programs focus upon how to survive a hazard. Few programs focus upon the consequences of the hazard. Surviving the hazard is but one element of a person’s disaster journey.

To help people to prepare for the hazard, and its consequences, Red Cross has adopted a psychosocial approach to its preparedness activities. Psycho-social preparedness refers to the practical, psychological and social actions a person takes to prepare themselves for the impacts of an emergency. These actions include: acquiring knowledge about threats; building their capacity to take care of themselves and others, both psychologically and practically; and increasing their social networks  .

This paper will outline how Red Cross uses the principles of psycho-social support in possibly a world first way to guide its preparedness activities and how this complements hazard survival programs conducted by emergency services agencies.

For more information on the 2017 Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference and to secure your spot, visit