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Disaster Recovery








The Recovery and Western Australia Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (WANDRRA) functions were transferred to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) on 1 July 2018.

Recovery is defined as the support of emergency affected communities in the reconstruction and restoration of physical infrastructure, the environment and community, psychosocial and economic wellbeing.

Emergencies and disasters disrupt people and communities. The range of impacts of disasters on a community can be described across the social, built, economic and natural environments. It is in these environments that recovery is conducted.

The State's recovery activities are underpinned by the State Emergency Management Act 2005 and the State Emergency Management Policy and Plan.

The Recovery Directorate is also guided by the National Principles for Disaster Recovery, (https://knowledge.aidr.org.au/resources/national-principles-disaster-recovery) which reinforce that disaster can deeply impact lives and livelihoods. Working with communities recovering from disasters is complex and challenging.

Successful recovery relies on six key concepts:

  1. Understand the CONTEXT: successful recovery is based on an understanding of the community context, with each community having its own history, values and dynamics;
  2. Recognise COMPLEXITY: successful recovery is responsive to the complex and dynamic nature of both emergencies and the community;
  3. Use COMMUNITY-LED approaches: successful recovery is community-centred, responsive and flexible, engaging with community and supporting them to move forward;
  4. CO-ORDINATE all activities: successful recovery requires a planned, coordinated and adaptive approach, between community and partner agencies, based on continuing assessment of impact and need;
  5. COMMUNICATE Effectively: successful recovery is built on effective communication between the affected community and other partners;
  6. Recognise and Build CAPACITY: successful recovery recognises, supports and builds on individual, community and organisational capacity and resilience.

The key to successful recovery is in supporting self-help and strengthening the resources, capacity and resilience already present within individuals and communities (https://schools.aidr.org.au/media/5634/community-recovery-handbook.pdf).

Disaster recovery is part of emergency management, which includes the broader components of prevention, preparedness and response. Recovery is undertaken concurrently with response. Planning for recovery is integral to emergency preparation and mitigation actions may often be initiated as part of recovery. It is important to start thinking of recovery as beginning during the prevention and preparedness stage. Building resilience and capability in both the community and local governments during that prevention and preparedness stage for recovery is a key focus for the Recovery Directorate.

SEMC Recovery and Community Engagement Subcommittee

Role of Local Government in Recovery

It is a function of local government to manage recovery following an emergency affecting the community in its district. Local governments must ensure the preparation and maintenance of Local Emergency Management Arrangements includes the identification of a local recovery coordinator and inclusion of a Local Recovery Plan.

In some circumstances, it may be necessary for the State Government to have an increased level of involvement. This higher-level coordination operates only to ensure that the affected community has equitable and appropriate access to
available resources.

A key objective of the Recovery Directorate is to ensure that any State Government involvement occurs with full consultation and cooperation with the local government, and the management of recovery remains the responsibility of the
affected local government/s.

Communication in Recovery

Successful communication in recovery is about connecting with people by enabling access to clear, relevant, targeted and high quality information to assist them build their own capacity and gain a greater understanding of community needs in the process. Good recovery communications is not only about sending information out, it’s about engaging in two-way dialogue (https://www.semc.wa.gov.au/Documents/Resources/EMTools/CommunicatingInRecoveryGuidelines.pdf#search=communicating%20in%20recovery).

Poor communication in emergencies during response and recovery from formal organisations has been highlighted as a constant barrier for communities. Communicating with an affected community needs to be carefully planned and managed, and
should be done so based on the key principles outlined in the ‘National Principles for Disaster Recovery’

The Recovery Directorate is to provide effective communications that include accurate and up-to-date information about estimated losses, assistance programs and financial assistance packages. This ensures that any information relayed to the affected community or the media is accurate.

Donations, spontaneous volunteers and goodwill management

Effective management of spontaneous volunteers/donations/goods and services occurs when community responses before, during and after disaster events are anticipated, planned for and integrated with the formal emergency management system. Where possible, during a disaster all offers/requests for spontaneous volunteers and spontaneous donations of goods and services with recovery activities should be coordinated through the Local Recovery Coordination Group to avoid duplication of effort. Appeals for donations of physical items such as food and furniture should be discouraged unless specifically requested.

The Lord Mayor's Distress Relief Fund is the recognised state emergency fund to provide relief to those affected by natural disasters in WA, as the money raised goes directly to those affected (with no administrative charges).

Spontaneous volunteer management is a complex process. Local communities and individuals, who have valuable and locally relevant knowledge and experience, social networks and skills, are often the first to respond to a disaster or
hazard event. People within the local community, with support from local governments, are also often the ones who support long-term recovery.  Community participation is shown to improve longer-term outcomes for the wellbeing of people who have been directly impacted; speed up the recovery process; and increase community capability for local disaster management. (https://knowledge.aidr.org.au/media/5618/aidr-communities-responding-to-disasters-planning-for-spontaneous-volunteers-handbook.pdf).

Financial Assistance

The primary responsibility for safeguarding and restoration of public and private assets affected by an emergency rests with the owner. However, a range of financial disaster relief measures is available to assist communities from
eligible natural disaster events. Assistance is not compensation based nor intended to replace or act as a disincentive for self-help, insurance or other mitigation strategies.

Western Australian Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangement (WANDRRA) - For information on WANDRRA please contact the administrators on (08) 9395 9973 or (08) 9395 9341, or by email to WANDRRA@dfes.wa.gov.au or from the DFES WANDRRA webpage.

Commonwealth Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) - The NDRRA Determinations outline the principles, guidelines, practices and processes under which the Commonwealth provides financial assistance to the States and
territories for the provision of natural disaster relief payments and infrastructure restoration.

The Commonwealth NDRRA do not apply directly to disaster-affected communities.

The WANDRRA administrators and the State Recovery Coordinator are the State's coordinators for the NDRRA. ​​