'This new role came about after all of the emergency management agencies saw a need to work together more closely and work together.

There are four different agencies helping fill the new role – CFA, MFB, SES and DELWP – and we have all just stepped in the role has only been going for two weeks. We will be working four-day rotations in 12-hour shifts.

Really, there was a recognition that we need to coordinate our wellbeing resources – our peer supporters, our peer dogs, our mental health clinicians and our chaplains, primarily.

All the different agencies are sending out their resources to do their best by the community and by their own personnel, but realised that we risked the possibility of saturating some places and under-servicing others.

This role is about creating some systems so that we have visibility and a level of coordinating so that we ensure that that the right resources are in the right areas to meet that area’s needs. That’s the goal of the role.

It’s a statewide role. What we are doing right now is just mapping everything because every agency is deploying resources based on their own assessments. For the CFA, we have teams of clinicians and peers working together loving across the fire-affected area. The ADF has half a dozen chaplains moving around. And Ambulance Victoria is about to start deploying their peer dogs.

Initially, we are using a team at the SCC to create a map and we are collating those resources daily so that we can see where everyone is, and then that map will help to feed those deployment decisions by each agency.

The next step will be to start collating some more in-depth information from those personnel to find out what are their observations, what needs have they found, and then we will feed those to the agencies so that we have a more dynamic, informed decision-making process.

I have only been in my job at the CFA two months and it felt like I needed to make some pretty complex decisions in a bit of a vacuum, so I now feel much more confident and comfortable knowing that I am now working with my inter-agency colleagues and that we share decision-making processes and information processes too.

It’s a remote comfort. We have met a few times but a lot of our work is done by email and phone because everyone’s trying to do their business-as-usual role in addition to having  this overarching statewide perspective, so lots of emails. Lots of conversations. As many meetings as possible. We’re starting that systematic sharing of information that will help us to use our precious resources to their utmost effectiveness.

Whether it’s a peer support worker or a therapy dog or a peer or a clinician, we want them in the right place to serve the greatest need. We can’t do that without coordination and communication. It’s just like the other roles here in the SCC. The success of it really depends on us working together well.

I have learned a lot about my own organisation but I have also learned a lot about the phenomenal commitment of our people out there. We have people putting in very long days to reach as many people as possible. They’re taking out Freddo Frogs to give people a moment of cheer and to engage them with a bit of conversation. They have a lot of ingenuity and flexibility.

Kelly Crosthwaite (DELWP Executive Director, People and Culture) is the one that has really been leading that inter-agency piece, but we have got everyone involved now, which is exciting. The other Wellbeing Coordinators are Annette Balshaw from DELWP, Irina Tchernitskaia from MFB and Terese Howlett from SES.'

Page last updated: 07/02/20