Rockhampton Region leads the way in disaster volunteer management

Published on 22 March 2021

Volunteers, Council, and emergency agencies participate in desktop exercise.jpg

Volunteer organisations and emergency agencies came together recently as part of a ground-breaking approach to disaster volunteer management in our Region.

The breakfast and networking event — ­ which was hosted by Rockhampton Regional Council, Volunteering Queensland and the Rockhampton State Emergency Services Unit — provided an opportunity for Volunteer Organisations Active in Disasters (VOAD) from across the Region to meet and discuss their role in an emergency.

Chair of the Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) Mayor Tony Williams said the VOAD initiative is a fantastic way to build our community disaster response.

“We talk often at Council about how important it is to be prepared for a disaster – whether that’s in our own homes or at a community level through the LDMG,” said Mayor Williams.

“However we are also incredibly lucky to have a very strong community sector made up of some wonderful individuals prepared to put their hand up in an emergency and help their community.

“The VOAD group, which was formed in early 2020, brings together these different organisations in order to create connections as well as share knowledge and resources, which builds our overall community capacity.”

Mayor Tony Williams said the project is the first of its kind in Australia.

“At the recent breakfast, VOAD members came together to work through an emergency scenario facilitated by disaster management specialists.

“The scenario itself was a flood event, and by walking through the response at a community and LDMG level, everyone involved was able to gain a greater understanding of how we could all work together in an emergency.

“This arms the emergency management agencies and groups with a stronger understanding of resources available within the community itself, and gives volunteers greater understanding of what happens in coordination centres.

“One of the really wonderful outcomes of the VOAD project and the disaster exercise was seeing the motivation and willingness of local volunteer involving organisations to collaborate on recovery projects following disasters.”

“Thanks to Volunteering Queensland, Rockhampton Region SES and our community volunteers for making this exercise such a success.”

Mara Basanovic, Volunteering Queensland CEO, said she is delighted to have seen Australia’s first VOAD developed in Regional Queensland.

“It has been heartening to see both rural and urban volunteer involving organisations in the Rockhampton Region come to together to discuss and plan their role in volunteering during disasters,” said Ms Basanovic.

“I wish the Rockhampton Regional Council and the VOAD members all the best with the ongoing development of the initiative. The VOAD concept underpins community-led response and recovery when it needs it most and I hope that other Local Government Areas see value in what the Rockhampton Region has created.”

Marion Lawler from Rockhampton Men’s Shed said the opportunity to participate in the exercise was appreciated by all of their members who attended.

“The feeling was that we were being trained to become useful as part of a larger team to help those members of our community who need help before, during and after a disaster,” said Ms Lawler.

“Thank you so much to everyone involved for enabling our organisation to continue to help those in our community who need assistance.”

The VOAD project is funded by the Queensland Government Department of Communities, Housing & Digital Economy as part of the 2019 Category C Bushfire funds. It has been facilitated by Volunteering Queensland, Rockhampton Regional Council’s Disaster Management team, and the State Emergency Service in Rockhampton Region.

If your community group would like more details on how to join the Rockhampton Region VOAD Consortium and the next meeting then email