Winter 2020

The advocacy voice of our members

The Royal Commission into Natural Disaster Arrangements

In its submission to the Royal Commission into Natural Disaster Arrangements the National Council called for a more streamlined approach to assessing and responding to need for people affected by natural disasters in the short- and medium-term.

Speaking to the Society’s experience with the bushfires, flood and drought, CEO, Toby oConnor said responses to natural disasters work well when all levels of government, charities and businesses work together in the interests of local communities.

But he said processes can sometimes be unnecessarily complex, which can bring about unhelpful situations for traumatised communities and exhausted volunteers. The Society delivers services with minimal overheads due to its large volunteer base and is able to mobilise resources quickly in the aftermath of disasters. The Society’s submission provides information on the responsibilities of and coordination between all levels of governments relating to natural disasters. ♦

Read the SVDP Submission here.
Read the SVDP Media Release here.

Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee: Lessons to be learned in relation to the Australian bushfire season 2019-20

This submission outlines the Society’s experiences in responding to the 2019-20 bushfires and includes recommendations on what should be done by governments and agencies to improve service responses.

The Society has consulted with its state and territory entities in preparing this submission. The information contained reflects the views of members and staff who provided direct relief to those affected by the 2019-20 bushfires through Vinnies’ centres/shops, helplines, visits and attendance at community events and Recovery Centres.

The submission outlines the Society’s three-tiered response to the crisis: emergency, recovery and rebuilding. It also includes aspects of the Society’s response which worked well, including mobilising local conference members and volunteers, spending time with people, being respectful and building trust, calling on members and volunteers from surrounding areas, reinvesting in the local community by supporting local businesses and a willingness to work with other agencies.

Actions which could improve responses include the need for more agility across all governments and agencies. ♦

Read the SVDP Submission here.

Rose Beynon is Director Policy and Research, St Vincent de Paul
Society National Council and National Bushfire Liaison Officer.

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