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Communicating in a crisis recovery world

13 Feb 2020

By now most of us are back at work in the capital after what has been an unprecedented summer of disaster and stress.

That is, if you weren’t called back to work to assist with the immediate crisis response—many communicators at some of our largest government departments were involved in the initial crisis response.  Each of us were either directly or indirectly touched in some way by the events of the last two months, and all of us were robbed of the holiday break or downtime we were so looking forward to after a very busy 2019. As the immediate threat passes (thankfully), how do we move on to recovery?

We spoke to you last month about how one of our Canberra chapter members was making her own personal contribution during the bushfire crisis. A few organisations have compiled resources and started initiatives to support targeted community segments and our community in general. This isn’t a comprehensive list, but a selection of resources communication professionals could use as we move from crisis response to the recovery phase.

The team at Isentia have produced a media analysis report on the bushfires. The report helps us understand the scale and complexity of the media coverage, and the key narratives driving the conversations on the worst bushfire season in Australia’s history.  

The International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) have assembled a fantastic set of resources centred around managing, communicating and leading through a crisis or trauma. IAP2 is the peak professional association for public participation and community engagement in Australia. Some of you may have attended our event in 2018 where we partnered with IAP2 for a discussion on the critical intersections between communication and engagement. We wanted to showcase three resources listed on IAP2’s website that may be helpful to you

The first is a free downloadable Guide to Engaging in Crisis Recovery. The guide is intended for anyone involved in a disaster recovery situation and focuses on the ‘human’ element of recovery, examining the importance of effective engagement, and identifying useful strategies that maximise the potential for sustained, strategic disaster recovery that is genuinely community-led.

IAP2 has shared the ACT Health’s page which links to a Community Trauma Toolkit. The toolkit contains evidence-based resources to help and support adults and children before, during, and after a disaster or traumatic event. It provides information and resources about some of the impacts of disaster and how you can help lessen these impacts.

The third resource, Leading in Disaster Recovery – A Companion through the Chaos, shares the lessons learned from over 100 leaders who have managed crisis recovery. This guide from the New Zealand Red Cross includes tools for that can assist in a pressured environment with many priorities.

IABC Asia Pacific has also compiled a list of way communicators can contribute to the bushfire recovery. Visit the IABC APAC disaster recovery page to find out more.


With thanks to Isentia and IAP2 for sharing these resources with the communication and engagement practitioner community.

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