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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).
VCCEM is identified in the State Emergency Management Plan (SEMP):
Prevention / Mitigation / Risk Reduction Activities
Response (inc Relief) Activities
- Activate Emergency Operations Centre to provide higher level support as required.
- Provide psychosocial support including emotional spiritual care under the SHERP
- Support DFFH to coordinate the multi-faith multicultural response to emergencies
Recovery Support agency to:
- DFFH to provide psychosocial support including psychological first aid, emotional and spiritual care and personal support in relief and recovery centres and through community outreach, direct visits, community meetings and gatherings
- provide DFFH and activating agencies regular reports on community wellbeing, needs and issues
- support Victim Support Agencies to provide support in emergencies caused by criminal acts
- support VIFM to provide support for the bereaved
- Support DFFH to assist DPC in the development and coordination of state services of worship and assist in the organisation of public memorials and gatherings to support the recovery of affected communitie
VCCEM has responded to numerous State Disasters including the Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983, Gippsland Floods, North East Floods in 1993, Mildura’s Cardross Accident in 2006, Kerang Train Crash in 2007, Melbourne Airport Incidents, Burnley Tunnel Accident and Black Saturday Bushfires in 2009 and floods in 2010/2011 & 2016, the two Bourke St incidents, The 2019/2020 Black Summer fires just to name a few.