During major emergencies the Department of Health and Humans Services is responsible for overseeing and coordinating the health system’s response, and coordinating relief and social recovery for communities who have been impacted by a disaster.

The department works in partnership with emergency services, Victorian government agencies and non-government organisations to ensure there is a whole-of-government response.

State Health Emergency Response Plan

The State Health Emergency Response Plan, edition 4 (SHERP4) sets out the arrangements and describes the integrated approach and shared responsibilities for health emergency management between the department, Ambulance Victoria and the emergency management sector.

Further information about SHERP4 is available at State Health Emergency Response Arrangements.

Psychological health and personal support

The State Emergency Relief and Recovery Plan (Part 4 Emergency Management Manual Victoria2 (EMMV)) details the responsibilities and arrangements for individuals, communities and agencies supporting relief and recovery from emergencies in Victoria.

The Department of Health & Human Services is responsible for coordinating relief and social recovery. The department fulfills this role by providing immediate relief and recovery activities to restore individual, family and community relationships and wellbeing. The department works in partnership with other Victorian government agencies and non-government organisations to ensure there is a whole-of-government approach to psychosocial support. The provision of psychosocial support is an integral part of relief and social recovery.

Emotional reactions are a normal response to the distress and trauma associated with an emergency. They can occur regardless of whether an individual sustains any physical injuries.

The stress associated with an emergency event affects both children and adults, and any response needs to include working with children. Some people may be at risk of serious, long-term psychological disorders, and research suggests lack of post-event support may be a significant risk factor in these outcomes. Research stresses the need for immediate psychosocial support alongside and integrated with the incident response.

Personal support and psychosocial support arrangements are documented within municipal emergency management plans as a part of the local relief and recovery arrangements. The document Psychosocial support: a framework for emergencies provides more information on this topic. See related links section for more details.

Relief and recovery plans describe a range of services that can be activated in response to an event to assist with relief and recovery. Emergency relief can help to provide shelter, water, food and psychological support. State, regional and municipal emergency management plans detail the agencies that provide personal support.