Local government is best placed to support their communities through disasters.
That’s true, but it also creates an expectation by the emergency management sector and other levels of government on councils that is difficult for them to sustain.
Individual Councils don’t get impacted by disasters often, so are challenged in sustaining the capability and capacity to manage major emergencies when they do occur.
Until they’re in it, Councils underestimate the operational resources, systems and services that need to be in place to manage major emergencies.
The flood event across regional Victoria has been challenging resources not just in councils but also the sector that supports the management of the disaster.
It’s been a sustained event, with water moving slowly and continuing to impact communities.
We’ve been working with Gannawarra Shire and Pyrenees Shire to support them in operations and in planning for a recovery that is going to take time.
Different communities are in different phases, either living on edge or trying to get on with it.
There’s a lot of good people in local government that are working hard to support their staff and communities through a disaster while also keeping the usual council services wheels turning.
Everyone is tired, and it’s really only just beginning.
Points to keep in mind:
Get your systems and structures in place. Without these, and without understood roles and responsibilities, things will be missed or double-handed.
Data is king. For impact assessment, planning, funding, understanding community needs.
Support your employees. Some will keep going until they fall over. Some will surprise you with their leadership and initiative.
Manage and demonstrate health and wellbeing practices, it’s a marathon not a sprint.
Your employees are community, they bring information, knowledge and wisdom to the table. Gather it and use it.
Connect and empower community. Communities have a collective capacity that can do amazing things if you allow and provide the space and ingredients.
Connect and respect your local partners and support each other.
Connect and respect your regional and state partners and understand how they can help. Also keep them to account for what they have promised and what their responsibilities are. Be mindful the emergency management system is under equal stress and is stretched after years of managing disasters.
Learn. Look at what happened, what worked well, and what could be done better next time. There’s a lot of good work being done, and the good must be captured with the bad.
The final point – look after yourself the best way you can.
If your organisation needs additional support, feel free to reach out.
- ResilientCo Managing Director Brett Ellis