Community preparedness for disasters
Community preparedness aims to assist communities to withstand a crisis event, minimise the mental health impacts and support community recovery.
Key factors in supporting community preparedness from a mental health perspective include:
- knowing the potential risks and likelihood of disasters occurring in the area, what types of disasters might occur, who is likely to be affected, and the potential mental health impacts
- Understanding the communities capacity for managing the mental health impacts of disasters, including knowledge of existing resources and how to access them
- Awareness of the learnings and recommendations from disasters that have occurred recently or in the past.
- Collaborative partnerships between:
- SA Health
- other government departments
- Emergency Services
- Primary Health Networks
- Local Council
- Australian Red Cross
- other non-government organisations
- Awareness of policies and frameworks that relate to disaster preparedness, response and recovery arrangements, including clearly defined roles and functions for different agencies involved in disaster management.
- Engaging with the local community to understand the capacity for managing the mental health impacts of disasters, available resources and identifying needs from the communities perspective.
Mental health literacy
- Understand the communities knowledge of the mental health impacts of disasters, emotional preparedness strategies, early warning signs, emotional recovery and supports that are available
- Identify strategies for increasing mental health literacy and awareness and ensuring that mental health is included in all aspects of disaster preparedness, response and recovery.
- Have an awareness of individuals or groups that may be more at risk if a disaster occurs in the local area
- Ensure that information and resources are relevant and accessible for individuals and communities who may be more at risk including:
- young people
- older people
- Aboriginal communities
- people with existing mental health or physical health conditions
- people with a disability
- culturally and linguistically diverse communities
- people with recent/previous experience of disasters or other traumas.
- Knowledge of current action plans relevant to individual agencies in the community and how these align as part of an over-arching plan to assist the community in being more prepared and responding and recovering more quickly.
Access to information and resources
- Resilient Community Organisations Benchmarking Toolkit (ACOSS) - A toolkit developed by and for the community sector to help organisations measure and improve their resilience to disasters and emergencies.
- Australian Red Cross - Why you should prepare your mind for an emergency
- Bushfire and Natural hazards CRC – Mapping Approaches to Community Engagement for Preparedness in Australia