Volunteering and Contact ACT’s role in an emergency

As the peak body for volunteering in the ACT, Volunteering and Contact ACT holds the responsibility under the ACT Community Recovery Plan to coordinate spontaneous volunteers.

Volunteering and Contact ACT, through the implementation of the EV CREW (Emergency Volunteering Community Response to Extreme Weather) service will act as a central agency to register offers of assistance from individuals and organisations to volunteer in disaster preparation, response and recovery activities. Volunteering and Contact ACT will refer registered volunteers, through low level matching of skills, location, and availability before, during and after disasters to organisations (NGOs and ACT Government) that have requested assistance from volunteers. Volunteering and Contact ACT will conduct initial screening of these requesting organisations, ensuring adequate protection and appropriate volunteer management processes are in place. 

Planning, Prevention, Response & Recovery

Planning

Preparedness and planning are paramount to minimising the impact of natural disasters and shortening the recovery period. Through a number of mechanisms and use of tools including the EV CREW Service, Emergency Volunteering portal and Disaster Readiness Index, Volunteering and Contact ACT encourages individuals, and the community generally, to have the appropriate planning processes in place to build individual and community resilience.

EV CREW

Volunteering and Contact ACT will promote the EV CREW service to those who offer their assistance, energy and skills to volunteer in the various phases of disasters and emergencies. This allows real-time management of volunteers and their live volunteer records. 

EV CREW service also provides organisations with a mechanism for planning, as it helps to assess and build capacity to take on surges of spontaneous and pre-registered volunteers for disaster-related activities. The service provides the opportunity for individuals, groups and organisations to register to provide assistance, as well as educating and then referring potential volunteers to disaster management and recovery agencies.  

The EV CREW system has been developed and proven effective by Volunteering Queensland in the major disasters of recent years.

Prevention

Through the development of an ACT section of the Emergency Volunteering website and ACT Disaster Readiness Index, Volunteering and Contact ACT has the tools to work with individuals, organisations and the community at large to promote disaster readiness and build resilience at all levels in our community.

Disaster Readiness Index

The Disaster Readiness Index is Australia’s first online, interactive disaster preparedness checklist, allowing individuals to check levels of preparedness and provides an individualised improvement and action guide. The index allows individuals to self-evaluate their own resilience and provides a tool for organisations to use to promote individual resilience in the community. Through the ACT Disaster Readiness Index, Volunteering and Contact ACT will promote this concept to the wider community to see how resilient we are in the nation’s capital.

Response

In times of disaster, Volunteering and Contact ACT will activate the Emergency Volunteering Coordination Centre, utilising the EV CREW system. This centre will be the central coordinating point for incoming requests from organisations who are seeking volunteers, as well as from individuals who are pledging to assist their time.

During this phase Volunteering and Contact ACT will act primarily as an information provider and a ‘gateway’ to easily disseminate information to the general public and registered emergency volunteers of progress and areas where assistance may be needed. 

Recovery

Recovery from a natural disaster can be a long process. Organisations rely on long-term support from volunteers who may perform various roles, ranging from basic clean-up to care, comfort and personal support, to more specific skills like providing financial counselling or structural engineering to affected communities.

Responding to actual needs as they arise on the ground is a complex process and organisations need time to coordinate an effective response that incorporates unaffiliated volunteers. During the recovery phase, Volunteering and Contact ACT will continue to operate the Emergency Volunteering Coordination Centre to respond to the ongoing requests of volunteers from organisations for assisting in a variety of roles in the recovery process.