Supporting communities through collective trauma events

AIDR and Australian Red Cross recently hosted a seminar to improve understanding of community needs and responses before, during and after collective trauma events.

In recent years in Australia and around the world, we have seen a spate of events which have been violent and traumatic and have caused significant public and collective grief and horror.

To better support communities exposed to traumatic events – such as the Bourke Street Mall incidents, Martin Place siege and the Auckland mosque attack – AIDR and Australian Red Cross hosted a seminar to explore best practice before, during and after collective trauma events.

The seminar drew upon the recent Australian Red Cross publication, Best Practice Guidelines: Supporting Communities Before, During and After Collective Trauma Events.

Participants heard from people involved in the response to collective trauma events which highlighted the intersection of sectors and roles in supporting communities exposed to traumatic events. Speakers at the seminar included:

  • Diana Bernardi, NSW/ACT Emergency Services Manager, Australian Red Cross
  • Kate Brady, National Recovery Advisor, Australian Red Cross
  • Wendy Graham, Director Resilience and Recovery, Office of Emergency Management
  • Robyn Hobbs, NSW Small Business Commissioner
  • Shona Whitton, Senior Advisor – Psychosocial Recovery, McNaughton & Willis

The event was attended by representatives from the NSW Office of Emergency Management and Department of Education, Red Cross and Anglicare staff and volunteers and professionals in incident management and psychology.

In this emerging area of practice that draws on the emergency management community, traditional roles, responsibilities and structures need to be adapted from the way they play out in a flood or fire event. Introducing people to best practice guidelines regarding collective trauma events – based on solid research and lived experience – gives a new way forward in our approach to community needs before, during and after these uniquely distressing events.