Session speaker announcement: Ms Diana Bernardi, Manager, Emergency Services NSW/ACT, Australian Red Cross

Red-Cross-2-Low-ResWe are pleased to announce session speaker Ms Diana Bernardi, Manager, Emergency Services NSW/ACT, Australian Red Cross who will speak at the 5th Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference 30-31 May 2016.

Ms Bernardi will speak in The Recovery Process stream on Australian Red Cross psychosocial recovery approach to the October 2013 Blue Mountains bush fires.

Following the October 2013 bush fires Australian Red Cross ran a two-year Recovery Program in the Blue Mountains. The program was unique as it emphasised the long-term, ongoing nature of recovery and placed psychosocial needs as central to all recovery. The approach emphasised respecting the independence, dignity and coping mechanisms of individuals and the community.

The impacts of emergencies are long-lasting, diverse, and have profound effects upon individuals, households and communities. These impacts are often described in terms of psychosocial, economic, built environment, and natural environment impacts. Red Cross recovery activities rest on the assumption that these four impacts are interrelated and that people belong at the centre of all recovery processes.

The focus of the Red Cross Recovery Program was supporting local services through advice, provision of resources and training to increase local capacity to organise, facilitate and mange activities and support community recovery. Activities built upon existing capability and resilience within the Blue Mountains community, and responded to the identified needs of the community and local services.

A Red Cross Recovery Project Officer was based in the Blue Mountains and hosted by local government, offering a range of mutual benefits including access to recovery expertise and the embedding of recovery lessons into key local organisations.

A capacity-building approach ensured outcomes of the recovery program could be maintained for both the longer-term recovery from the 2013 bushfires, and recovery from future disaster events. It also contributed to building the resilience of individuals, families and communities impacted by the fires and helped them to prepare for future events.

The program was externally evaluated and revealed the model was respected and Red Cross presence in the Blue Mountains community was highly valued. This paper will focus on examining the approach and identifying how effective elements can be replicated in future events.

The 5th Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference will be held at Jupiters, Gold Coast, QLD on the 30-31 May 2016.

The Conference theme ‘EARTH, FIRE and RAIN’ will continue to examine issues that impact preparedness, resilience, response and capability. To register for the conference CLICK HERE.