PACFA response to the Australian bushfires

On behalf of the PACFA Board and our members, we extend our sympathies to all communities across Australia directly affected by the catastrophic bushfires, and to all Australians impacted by the ongoing effects of this national crisis.

We join many others in thanking all those who are volunteering their time and skills on the frontlines, both from Australia and abroad, and extend our deepest gratitude to them and their families for selflessly assisting so many Australian communities during the immediate impact of the fires.

Many of our members have reached out to PACFA offering to volunteer in person or via telephone counselling to support people who have been impacted by the fires, and to offer trauma informed counselling supports to first responders.

PACFA is currently liaising with state emergency response agencies, the Red Cross and other non-government organisations across Australia, to assess their need for immediate volunteer counselling support. So far, the response has been that no more volunteers are needed as many skilled volunteers have already been mobilised.

However if you wish to express interest in volunteering to provide Psychological First Aid during the bush fire emergency, PACFA will be compiling a volunteer list. There may also be the need for volunteers for the longer-term bushfire recovery process.

We invite all members who are suitably qualified and experienced and who wish to volunteer their time in person or via telehealth to express interest to the PACFA Office using the EOI template. PACFA will forward the information provided by members to any government or non-government agencies that advise us they are seeking volunteers.

Volunteer Registrants should be aware of PACFA’s strategy for Disaster Recovery:

  • Volunteers should be aware that the recommended response to the psychosocial needs of individuals, families and communities affected by disasters is based on the principles of Psychological First Aid.
  • Volunteers are encouraged to undertake training and professional development in disaster recovery and psychological first aid.
  • Volunteers should have a current Working with Children’s check.
  • Volunteers should seek supervision and support for their disaster recovery work. This will help to support self-care in accordance with the PACFA Code of Ethics. Volunteers should be particularly aware of the potential for vicarious trauma when working in natural disaster areas and seek to address these risks through supervision or personal therapy if required.

PACFA is currently compiling resources on Psychological First Aid and Disaster Recovery and these will be made available on the PACFA website for all PACFA Registrants interested in developing these skills to support communities in disaster recovery, now and in the future.

PACFA recognises that the effects of trauma and loss are both immediate and longer-term, and the need for psychosocial supports for individuals, families and communities affected by these devastating fires will be ongoing. There is a significant role for counsellors and psychotherapists in supporting those affected not only in the immediate future, but over the coming weeks and months.

We wish all our members and their communities who have been directly affected by the fires a safe and supported recovery. PACFA will continue to keep members informed of opportunities to participate in the ongoing response.

Please click here to download the expression of interest template and return the completed form to admin@pacfa.org.au.