There is an opportunity to simplify access to critical resources for individuals and communities in the lead up to, during, and after fire and floods. Preparing disaster resilience plans and putting them into action also takes a wide range of resources to meet the needs of communities.
Alternative resources can range from mobile tool libraries, strategically placed water tanks that local farmers can use to fight fires, mobile saw mills to clean up burnt trees and repurpose them for rebuilds, and volunteer deployment. All of which allow local communities to engage in their own resilience and disaster mitigation as well as prepare for recovery should a disaster strike.
Accessing mental health support has been raised as a particular issue, with an estimated 840,000 people in Australia without a psychologist registered in their principal area. Telehealth is an emerging remote service model to provide regional and remote communities with disaster recovery support and was used for post-fire mental health services in 2020. Access to mental health services can be streamlined as can the hand off points between mental health and wellbeing services.
Improving community access to resources pre- and post-disaster involves many parties, from local, state and federal governments, to industry, non-governmental organisations, emergency services and communities.
Achieving this will be a significant and high-value effort – and will require coordination at a local level as well as state or national levels, to ensure the right people have access to the right resources at the right time. It will also be enhanced with a consistent national approach to volunteer activation, with upskilling and credentials being transferable across volunteer organisations.