Disasters can strike anywhere and at anytime. And whether we plan for it or not, spontaneous volunteers will come forward with offers of assistance.
While these volunteers can be an invaluable workforce to help with relief and recovery efforts, recent disasters, especially the 2009 Victorian bushfires, highlight that most communities are not able to cope with a large influx of spontaneous volunteers and a lack of coordination and management represents a risk to volunteers and the community.
The challenges posed for emergency management by spontaneous volunteers was acknowledged in the Victorian Emergency Management Reform White Paper, which recommended the development of “strategies to manage spontaneous volunteers during relief and recovery efforts.”
When disasters do occur it is essential to have access to appropriately trained volunteer managers who can be quickly and flexibly deployed to manage and support spontaneous emergency volunteers. This will help to ensure the volunteers are used effectively and to minimise negative impact and risk to volunteers, communities impacted by a disaster and other individuals and organisations involved in relief and recovery efforts.
After the successful pilot in Geelong, Volunteering Victoria then rolled out Spontaneous Emergency Volunteers (MSEV) program across regions of Victoria (including Hume, Eastern, Western and Northern Metro, Central Victoria. The program is part of the HelpOUT service and aims to recruit, train, support, deploy & debrief a workforce of skilled volunteer managers to help community organisations manage with the management of spontaneous emergency volunteers during disaster relief and recovery.
To deliver this program, Volunteering Victoria is working in collaboration with local councils, emergency management agencies and Australian Red Cross.
This is an exciting and important initiative which will support communities affected by emergencies in the participating regions. Imagine the possibilities of effectively harnessing the power of spontaneous emergency volunteers.
For more information about the program, call Alison Duff, MSEV Project Coordinator on 03 5221 1377, or email firstname.lastname@example.org Monday to Friday or Steve Crimston HelpOUT Manager 03 83278500 email@example.com Monday to Thursday.
Volunteering Victoria acknowledges the support of the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments through the Natural Disaster Resilience Grants Scheme and Red Cross.