The difference that you can make to a disaster-affected family, community group, business or individual - even years after an extreme weather event - is immeasurable.
Most emergency volunteering roles will get you dirty and it will be repetitive, but despite this, so many volunteers who have participated in recovery projects view it as a life-changing experience.
What types of roles might exist for volunteers?
There are a variety of things you may be asked to assist with in the response and recovery phase of an emergency as a registered emergency volunteer.
The Big Clean-Up
Helping your neighbour and pitching in is one of the oldest and most Australian forms of volunteering. However, during emergencies volunteering can turn into dangerous work if not properly organised or supervised. Volunteering ACT provides an emergency volunteer service which works on two levels.
- with lead and grassroots agencies to find volunteering opportunities that are valuable and really help the community recover from disaster events, and
- to make sure that volunteers are safe and informed while doing this.
General clean-up is one of the first recovery stages following a disaster, and this can be a very emotional time, so we're here to facilitate safe and responsible responses. Recognising the importance of appropriate work-gear, safe cleaning practices and the importance of volunteering under an organised system means that you can be part of the clean-up but can be working with organisations that understand the risks involved in this type of work.
Many of the agencies we work with request volunteers who are happy to do general clean up duties – so grab that broom and bucket and wait for the call.
Long-term, large-scale recovery projects
After that initial emergency – when the immediacy and urgency following a disaster is over – this is the time that emergency volunteers are really needed.
When that local library, school and community hall is devastated by fire or floods – months later, it is the children's library books that need covering. Or when hectares of farm land are impacted – volunteers can be called on to fast-track the recovery process by mending the metres and metres of fences damaged so that farmers can get back their livelihoods and lives.
All sorts of roles exist for volunteers to lend a hand on an ongoing basis – so if you don't get called to volunteer right away, you may instead be able to help when people really need it – in the months or even years following an emergency.
As a result of extreme weather and emergency situations, relief organisations often seek volunteers for specialised services. Counsellors, youth/social workers, medical professionals and human services personnel can be called on to offer additional support to organisations offering emergency assistance. Due to ongoing reconstruction, calls for engineers and qualified tradespeople to volunteer their time occur regularly. So, if you are trained or have experience in a particular area, please let us know. All manner of different skills and knowledge can come in handy, so don't hesitate to add these details to your registration.
Administration/call centre for recovery organisations
To support all the amazing volunteers who hit the streets to re-build communities, provide counselling and sort through donations, there will always be the need for equally amazing volunteers to help organise them.
Volunteering your time as an administration assistant or call centre volunteer provides valuable support to organisations administering relief. A supported organisation means happier and safer volunteers, a faster and more effective response and accountable and sustainable practices.
Do you come with extras?
Look to your left, now look to your right – now go and look in the shed out the back. Are there materials around you that can be useful in your emergency volunteering contribution? Recovery and reconstruction projects often require the use of heavy machinery and equipment, 4WD, power washers, generators, chainsaws and all manner of other clean-up tools – most of which are very expensive to hire. If you are able to provide equipment (and have the correct ticket/ safety training if required) – please include that in your registration details – and you may be called to action.
Just like your skills and experience, all manner of things can come in handy, so the more details the better!
Registering with us
Registering with EV CREW will enable your skills, location and availability to match the needs of the organisations working on the disaster recovery. You’ll be whistled in if, and when, your specific skills are needed. You’ll be inducted and directed to ensure your efforts help communities in need. Organisations needing your help may include service clubs, health and human service nonprofits, local Landcare groups or neighbourhood houses in the affected area.