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Bushfire Disaster Recovery

Bushfires in Australia have been devastating, burning more than 10 million hectares of land, killing wildlife, destroying homes, and sending smoke across Australia and even to New Zealand.

There is a long road ahead as our firefighters continue to manage existing and new fires as best they can, and as the impacted communities navigate this new reality and start to try and rebuild.

This is an emergency.

We are compiling resources to help those navigating disaster response engagement in affected areas. Stay tuned as we will continue to grow this page with relevant resources.

We have created a new hub to house resources for community engagement practitioners navigating the natural disaster landscape – the Natural Disaster Hub. The Natural Disaster Hub will be updated regularly as new resources and materials become available. Make sure to update your bookmarks to the new hub!

Ways you can help

Pro bono professional services

IAP2 Australasia are calling on the engagement community to offer professional services pro bono to any Government agency or other organisation that needs assistance in engaging with the community in the areas of disaster response; disaster recovery; and climate change education and awareness.

Thank you to Comacon for kickstarting this initiative and pledging support.

If you are able to help, we invite you to email jacqie@iap2.org.au with your:

  • Name
  • Organisation
  • Contact Phone
  • Contact Email
  • Location/s you are available to help in
  • Services/areas of expertise
  • How you would like to help


IAP2 Australasia will publish your details on this page, to be shared with Government agencies and organisations that need assistance.

Help a Small Biz

Helping Australian small businesses impacted by the bushfires

Australian small businesses are the economic and social heartbeat of our communities. If our businesses aren’t operating our communities can’t thrive. Help a Small Biz is the place for Australian small businesses directly or indirectly impacted by the fires to ask for help and for non-affected businesses to provide the help they need.

Help a Small Biz have impacted businesses and communities seeking help with requests such as:

  • Grant applications
  • Business plans for government funding
  • Social media strategy or posting support

Can you help? Visit Help a Small Biz for more information.


There are many ways you can contribute to the bushfire crisis. Here are just three of the many organisations with bushfire crisis appeals:

Australian Red Cross

The Australian Red Cross have launched a joint disaster appeal with the ABC to support the communities affected by fires. They support a variety of efforts such as supporting people at evacuation centres and providing emergency assistance like cash grants to people who have lost their homes.

World Wildlife Fund Australia

You can help WWF-Australia get emergency funds to care for our injured wildlife, and when the fires clear, help restore the forest homes our koalas and other animals have lost.



The stress caused following a natural disaster can lead to ‘burnout’ and physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. Your donation can help recruit, train and support more Crisis Supporters and develop new technologies and services that help us respond to more people, faster.

Engagement Consultants

The following organisations within the engagement community have pledged their support to offer professional services pro bono to any Government agency or other organisation that needs assistance in engaging with the community in the areas of disaster response; disaster recovery; and climate change education and awareness.


Anne Leadbeater OAM, Director and Principal of the Leadbeater Group joined Elisabeth Ellis, Professional Development Manager, IAP2 Australasia to discuss engagement tips for disaster response and recovery.

Anne has 25 years’ experience in community and economic development through her roles in local and state Government, emergency management and adult education. Anne worked on behalf of the Murrindindi Shire Council to coordinate recover efforts for the Kinglake Ranges following the 2009 Victorian Bushfires and has also worked with disaster-impacted communities in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and New Zealand.

Anne’s extensive experience includes facilitation of state-wide consultation sessions with staff and stakeholders for the development of the Victorian Department of Land, Water and Planning Customer Charter, and design and delivery of a national tour of masterclasses on disaster recovery for the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) Australasia.

From these workshops, the Guide to Engaging in Disaster Recovery was developed by an IAP2 Australasia working group, led by Anne.

Anne has worked in economic development as the Strategic Project Manager for Murrindindi Shire Council’s Advancing Country Towns project. In 2018, she was lead writer on the development of Handbook 12 – Communities Responding to Disasters (Planning for Spontaneous Volunteers) and a review of Handbook 2 – Community Recovery for the Australian Institute of Disaster Resilience.

Anne specialises in working with large and small groups on strategic planning, policy development, disaster recovery and managing outrage. Anne holds a masters’ degree in Social Science and has authored published papers on drought policy, communicating in emergencies, and the role of community leadership in disaster recovery. She is a specialist facilitator with the National Centre for Emergency Management Studies, and was a Core Values Awards judge for IAP2 Australasia in 2017 and 2019.


Guide to Engaging in Disaster Recovery

In 2015, following a series of master classes and workshops on community engagement and disaster recovery, a working group, led by Anne Leadbeater OAM (an independent national consultant in disaster recovery and community resilience) created IAP2 Australasia’s A Guide to Engaging in Disaster Recovery.

This guide is intended for anyone involved in a disaster recovery situation; community leaders, politicians, engagement practitioners, workers from specialised agencies, those without prior recovery experience, or for recovery engagement professionals who have experience in this work but who may be working in a new community that they are unfamiliar with.

The content 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.

While the focus of the guide is on the recovery phase, the information has relevance for communities before, during and after a disaster, and may prove equally valuable to those working with communities through all stages of emergency management.

The guide outlines eleven key principles, including:

  • First understand the drivers and values of a community
  • Consult broadly
  • Effective engagement requires a plan – before, during and after disaster
  • Identify, recognise and support vulnerable members of the community
  • Be mindful of the political implications
  • Manage expectations

We are happy to send free printed copies upon request. Simply contact us via info@iap2.org.au with your details.

National Principles for Disaster Recovery and Checklist

Courtesy of Louise Mitchell, National Consultant Disaster Recovery

The National Principles for Disaster Recovery can be used by communities, governments and recovery agencies to guide our efforts, our approach, our planning and our decision-making.

Australian and New Zealand government departments, recovery support agencies and two Australian communities impacted by major disasters have worked in partnership to once again revise and update the principles.

Download the checklist

Government’s Role in Supporting Community–led approaches to Recovery – Literature Review and Report

Courtesy of Louise Mitchell, National Consultant Disaster Recovery

The case for using community-led approaches is clear in the research, what is less clear is how government might best foster and enable these approaches. The summary of findings presents the two key ideas explored in terms of how government can foster and support community-led approaches to recovery while maintaining effective coordination.

View the literature review.

View the Community-led Model.

View the Enablers for community-led recovery.

Social Mapping Tool

Harvest Digital Planning

Social Map is a powerful spatial engagement tool that can help tell stories of recovery and progress or gather qualitative spatial data, allowing communities to gain place-based intelligence or tell stories of hope and healing in a highly visual way. This tool lives within The HiVE

Harvest Digital Planning are offering a special discounted Not For Profit and small council rates on The HiVE for all affected communities and organisations undertaking recovery work.

Community Trauma Toolkit

Courtesy of the Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing | ACT Health | ACT Government

The community trauma 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 information in this Toolkit is grouped into the timeframes surrounding a natural disaster or traumatic event: preparedness; immediate; short-term recovery; and long-term recovery. The resources are tailored to the various audience including:

  • Parents and caregivers
  • General Practitioners
  • Educators
  • Community leaders
  • First Responders, and
  • Health and Social workforces.

The toolkit was developed by ANU’s Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma Grief and Loss Network (ACATGLN) for the Emerging Minds collaboration using funding from the Commonwealth government.

ACATGLN is part of the ANU Medical School and sits within the Academic Unit of General Practice and is full of simple practical evidence based advice and can be accessed for free.

Image courtesy of https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/toolkits/community-trauma-toolkit/

Mapping Approaches to Community Engagement for Preparedness in Australia

Courtesy of Dr Kim Johnston | Associate Professor | PhD MAICD  FHEA | QUT Business School | Queensland University of Technology and Dr Barbara Ryan and Prof Maureen Taylor

A framework based on current and future Australian community engagement for preparedness approaches, which benchmarks best practice and facilitates transparent evaluation systems for end-users/agencies.

Image courtesy of https://www.bnhcrc.com.au/publications/biblio/bnh-6108

Leading in Disaster Recovery – A Companion through the Chaos

Courtesy of Chris Mene


Recovering from a disaster is a deeply human event – it requires us to reach deep inside of ourselves and bring to others the best of who we can be. It’s painful, tiring, rewarding and meaningful. The responsibility can be heavy and at times you may fee lalone. This is your companion through chaos that will connect you with over 100 other people who have walked in similar shoes.

This Companion is about leadership in disaster recovery. Many, like those who contributed, will not identify as leaders – yet they undoubtedly are. Leadership takes many shapes. It takes a web of connected and supported leaders to catch the opportunities that recovery offers communities. Manuals for recovery programming abound. This is not one. This Companion shares hard-won wisdom and practical strategies. These are the messages others wished they’d had, and tools for putting these ideas in place because in a pressured environment with many priorities, hearing the message is often not enough.

Six Steps to Disaster Recovery by Dr Rob Gordon

Published by NZ Red Cross

Dr Rob Gordon is a psychologist and disaster recovery expert. In this video he provides six tips to assist people living in Canterbury who may be affected by the earthquakes.

Children’s Health guide in Natural Disaster recovery

Courtesy of Sioux Campbell

Birdie’s Tree Growing together through natural disasters 

Natural disasters like storms, cyclones, floods or fire can be very frightening and upsetting for babies and young children. Playing a therapeutic game or reading a story with a caring adult can help a young child work through the scary experiences and ‘big feelings’. There’s information for parents and carers too.

Image courtesy of https://www.childrens.health.qld.gov.au/natural-disaster-recovery/

Assisting a Person Affected by the Bushfire Crisis

Courtesy of Mental Health First Aid Australia

These guidelines are designed to help members of the public to provide mental health first aid to someone who is experiencing distress related to Australia’s bushfire crisis. The role of a mental health first aider is to assist the person until appropriate professional help is received or the crisis resolves.

A first aider cannot make a diagnosis of mental illness or provide therapy.

Cards for Calamity

Courtesy of Jolie, Hummingly

Cards for Calamity help people navigate life after disaster. Comprised of tales, tips and tricks, these 70 cards make life a little easier. In practical and profound ways, they provide a guide through the months and years after disaster. To come out of a disaster the best way possible, it helps to have knowledge and inspiration from others who have been there before.

Supporting the Supporters

Courtesy of Jolie, Hummingly

Here you’ll find the results of research from disasters around the globe, supported by a Winston Churchill Fellowship, looking at how best to support those who are playing a role in disaster recovery. The research report is here, along with 12 principles of support and other guidance.

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