“The Victorian Council of Churches (VCC) was first brought into disaster recovery work under DISPLAN in 1978 following an approach by the Rev. John Hill regarding the provision of counselling and support services to disaster affected people. As a result, the Victorian Council of Churches through John Hill was asked to chair the state counseling sub committee of the Displan Welfare Plan. This committee later evolved to become the state personal services and counselling sub committee, after the 1983 bushfires, the Community Recovery Committee.” (Smale, S; VCC 1995)
In the late 1990’s, the then Community Services Victoria contracted the VCC to provide outreach and pastoral care services. 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).
In 2015, the chaplaincy and pastoral care program of VCC transitioned to a company limited by guarantee and is now VCC Emergencies Ministry (VCC EM).
VCC EM is identified in the Emergency Management Manual of Victoria (EMMV), the State Health Emergency Response Plan (SHERP), the Department of Health & Human Services regional recovery plans, and most Municipal Emergency Management Plans (MEMP) at Local Government.
The EMMV identifies VCC EM’s function according to the following:
Prevention / Mitigation / Risk Reduction Activities
Provide information, education and training to cultural and faith communities, Local Government Emergency Management staff and other agencies
Provide psychosocial support including emotional spiritual care according to the State Health Emergency Response arrangements.
Relief / Recovery Activities
VCC EM supports DHHS to deliver the following relief and recovery activities:
- Provide psychosocial support including psychological first aid, emotional and spiritual care and personal support in relief & recovery centres and through community outreach, community meetings and gatherings, direct visits
- Coordinate the multifaith multicultural response to emergencies
- Assist the Department of Premier and Cabinet 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 communities
The Victorian Council of Churches Emergencies Ministry (VCC EM) provides its services through volunteers from several religious and cultural groups including Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh and Hindu, trained to respond to all affected persons following emergencies in Victoria.
VCC EM has responded to most major emergency events in Victoria’s history since 1978. The most recent included the Bourke Street tragedy where 6 pedestrians were killed and over 30 people were injured. VCC EM provided 162 individual volunteers, 311 days of service, and support 3321 persons in 10 calendar days.
For more information on Emergencies Ministry, go to the following sources of information:
YouTube: Our Story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAjB3jAvvbA