VCC Emergencies Ministry

The Victorian Council of Churches Emergencies Ministry began in 1977 and has 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.

Forest Fire Management Victoria sits within DELWP and is responsible for managing the impacts of bushfire on public land in Victoria.

DELWP brings together Victoria’s climate change, energy, environment, water, forests, planning and emergency management functions into a single department to maximise connections between the environment, community, industry and economy.

Our challenge is to improve Victoria’s liveability with a population that is expected to almost double by 2050, while responsibly tackling climate change and protecting our natural environment, infrastructure and heritage for future generations.

DELWP employees in excess of 4,500 Full Time Employees.

Collaborating with ESF

The work DELWP undertakes to create sustainable places and thriving natural environments throughout Victoria, requires the commitment of staff who are also members of those communities.  Performing this work can expose our people to events that impact upon their health and wellbeing, similar to those in the broader emergency sector workforce. 

The sector-wide collaboration through EFS creates a consistent, evidence-based approach to preventing harm and providing suitable interventions of support and care.

Contact details: 

Email:    customer.service@delwp.vic.gov.au

Phone:  136 186

Current MGH&W focus/priorities.

Our current mental health and wellbeing priorities include actions that promote, protect and address workplace mental health and wellbeing risk factors, such as strengthening our Peer Support and Reach Out Program, adapting our delivery model of mental health supports for our regional workforce to make it easier to access local experts, and enhancing resources to support overall good health and preventative factors.

Contact

For health and wellbeing matters please contact: wellbeing.services@delwp.vic.gov.a