People’s welfare at the heart of response

Leanne Taylor and Gabrielle Brown

For Territory Families, setting up the Welfare Group structure as part of the hazard response is business as usual once a crisis or emergency has been declared.

The Northern and Southern Welfare Groups, activated in early March, and has fielded over 1,700 referrals, managed the quarantine of arrivals in the Territory from interstate and overseas and supported biosecurity and return to country for more than 2,000 people.

In addition to the 110 staff from Territory Families, the group includes people from the departments of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics; Education; Local Government, Housing and Community Development; and Corporate and Information Services.

Leanne Taylor, seconded from Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics for the crisis and Gabrielle Brown of Territory Families said Territory Families is experienced in flexing to whatever needs to be done, “but it’s always with people at the centre or heart.”

“As leaders of the Northern Welfare Group, we have a really strong requirement to proactively manage fatigue of staff – because as usual for Territory Families, everyone just wants to get in, to help and do whatever is necessary,” they said.

Leanne and Gabrielle said they were extremely amazed of what people are capable of in that the type of work brings out the best of most people, and in groups of people collaborating towards the same goal.

“People fire off each other and are inspired by the actions of other team members. The attitude in the Welfare Group really seems to be ‘go beyond, do whatever it takes’ to get the job done.”

The duration of the crisis meant that ongoing management of mental and physical fatigue was critical. “We had to make sure people went home and got rest, and didn’t try to work 15 hours a day, seven days a week for months.” At the same time, raising awareness of staff about the importance of building personal resilience.

“COVID-19 has shown us that workplace health and safety, and being prepared for emergency response and management is everybody’s business, and it really is becoming our new business as usual,” they said.

“We need to learn to live with this, as 2020 has already demonstrated – i.e. bushfires, the COVID-19 coming so closely together. We should all be trained in emergency response and management and become a highly resilient public service.”

Last updated: 20 August 2020

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