The Victorian Council of Churches Emergencies Ministry is an organisation specialising in disaster response in Victoria.
Established in 1977, it had now grown to over 1,600 volunteers who are trained to respond to disasters in Victoria.
“The VCC was first brought into disaster recovery work under DISPLAN in 1978 following an approach by the Rev. John Hill regarding the provision of counseling and support services to disaster affected people. As a result, the Victorian Council of Churches through John Hill was asked to chair the counseling sub committee of the Displan Welfare Plan. This committee later evolved to become The Personal Services and Counselling Sub Committee, after the 1983 bushfires, the Community Recovery Committee.” (Smale, S; VCC 1995)
The Department of Human Services has contracted the VCCEM to provide outreach, psychological first aid, personal support and emotional spiritual care. The Community Chaplaincy arrangement was initiated in preparation for the 2006 Commonwealth Games with a view to continuing as an element within the State Emergency Recovery Plan (SERP).
Mental Health and Wellbeing
Since we transitioned from face to face support services, to phone outreach support due to the restrictions imposed with the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been keeping in regular contact with all of our volunteers and staff.
More than ever, our senior leader volunteers have been catching up with their teams of volunteers over zoom and phone to check in on them during these strange times.
Our agency has being hosting weekly and fortnightly meetings with large groups of senior volunteers to keep them engaged and to check in on them. We also have regular staff zoom meetings weekly given that we are all still working remotely.
In line with most other agencies, we take the health and wellbeing of our staff and volunteers very seriously, and for this reason, we have not exposed ourselves to any face-to-face support contact since March 2020. Now that restrictions are beginning to ease here in Victoria, our agency will start to move slowly back to face-to-face support services where it has been deemed safe to do so. We will conduct a risk assessment for each activation for our services.
During lockdown, we were sending regular news articles and papers shared by other agencies to our volunteers, which focused on mental health and wellbeing practices to support them while in lockdown.
We appointed a team of volunteers to contact any of our volunteers who had been activated to support a community member via phone outreach. This support team would regularly reach pout to our volunteers for check-ups and a chat.
Collaborating with ESF
VCC Emergencies Ministries is acutely aware if the impacts on the emergency response, relief and recovery staff and volunteers who respond to incidents that can impact upon their health and wellbeing. Therefore The opportunity to interact and collaborate with other agencies in the sector around how to better support the mental health and wellbeing of our people is paramount to us.
Phone: (03) 7037 6010