One Health Organisation and its partners have been deeply impressed by the willingness expressed by the holistic healthcare community to assist those devastated by the recent floods in QLD and Victoria, and by Cyclone Yasi.

As such, the following guide has been put together to assist those wishing to volunteer their services.

When to help

There is a great deal that practitioners can offer to survivors of natural disasters in terms of treatment for post trauma stress, traumatic injuries, and the overall process of grieving and then moving forward with their lives. It is important at this time to remember however, that the Australian community at large is offering a great deal of assistance in many forms and such assistance needs to be coordinated to ensure the best use of resources and people power. There is a tipping point in such endeavors where they transition from emergency response, to post disaster clean up and the rebuilding of buildings and lives alike.

Ensuring they have the right assistance at the right time is something that is crucial to providing genuine and accessible aid. Due to the unique strengths of holistic health practices there is a right time to help that is generally after the emergency services have finished their initial response.

How to help

The holistic healthcare industry learnt a lot in the times of the Victorian bush fires and many great initiatives have grown out of this. It showed the extent of the real desire to help of those within the industry but also the need for guidance on how to offer the best assistance in times of natural and community disasters. The most important points to remember are as follows:

  • sometimes the assistance needed most is of a general nature and involves a basic willingness to do whatever the local project supervisors suggest (working a switch board, making lunches, passing sand bags etc)
  • when the time comes to offer your skills as a professional only work within your areas of qualification and experience – failing to do so really can cause more harm than good.

Where to help

Local assistance from within any given community is always best, so if you are local to any of the flood affected communities then you are the best placed practitioner to assist in this time. If you were lucky enough to have your property unaffected then you can use your clinic to assist. You are likely to have contacts locally, use these to offer assistance of pro bono treatments. Although you can’t treat everyone, starting to work with even a few can make a real difference.

Who to call

If you are unable to offer the above but would like to volunteer some treatment time at a developing practitioner response centre then you can contact the following:

Queensland flood affected areas
Carlene Gardiner Phone: 07 4636 6000

Victorian flood affected areas
Rickie Nuske (APERN) Phone: 0409 953 960

Please be mindful that these contacts, despite being supported by OHO’s collaborative partner ‘Hands On Health Australia’ are individual practitioner groups working in and affected by the floods themselves, so please be patient with any slow responses.

Volunteering Queensland have the resources to register and coordinate the deployment of a variety of volunteers and once again are inundated with volunteering requests at this time so please be patient. Their contact details are:

T: 07 3002 7600 or 1800 994 100
E: [email protected]

Volunteering Victoria have the resources and coordination for all responses for volunteering in Victoria

The Australian Traditional Medicine Society has also been assisting in the co-ordination of post disaster relief and members may contact their office directly if they have relevant offers of support not adequately covered by Volunteering Queensland’s / Victoria’s
extensive infrastructure.

T: (02) 9809 6800
E: [email protected]

Other professional associations may be coordinating some efforts of support and clinics, please see each association for further information.

Ongoing Assistance

After times of crisis community groups and individuals alike typically speak out about how great amounts of assistance was available when the disaster first occured, but that soon enough, the media information fades and with it goes the offers for help. OHO therefore urges that volunteers commit to breaking this cycle, and remember that many of these communities are going to need assistance for many more months and even years to come as the trauma of broken and lost lives is slowly healed. The holistic healthcare industry can offer services that are perfectly suited to such ongoing processes of both physical and emotional recovery, and is thus uniquely suited to playing a central role in the QLD and Vic disaster relief efforts. As there will be an ongoing need to support these communities for some time, volunteering opportunities will be available from now onwards; please remember this as your year progresses.

For those of you that are participating in some way, we welcome your stories as there are many people who are not in the position to help out practically but would love to offer support and encouragement.

One Health Organisation will continue to keep you updated on volunteering opportunities and outcomes as the recovery process continues.

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