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Across teams: Ensure access to support is equitable — within and across teams. Leaving levels of support entirely up to the discretion and abilities of their leader may result in varying standards of support. This can lead to division; those feeling unsupported feel resentment and those being supported, or leading the way doing the supporting, are made to feel guilty. The manager is often put in an untenable position; “Am I supposed to give my team less support, when I know they need it, in order to make it fair?”

An organization-wide defined level of support would address equity concerns, but would strip away the discretion which is required to ensure supports are responsive. Striking a balance might entail having an organization-wide minimum standard which ensures a good level of support, while encouraging additional discretionary flexibility. 

Across time: Needs are on-going and changing. Different people will benefit from different supports at different times — support Sue at month 10, but also plan to be able to continue to provide support so that it is still available when it is helpful to Geoff at year 3.

Providing continuity of access to support over time is important, including beyond the immediate end of the role. Enabling multiple options for follow up support beyond an initial debrief is valuable, as the impact may only emerge later.  Workers can become so invested and embedded in their helping role that processing it and letting go can be a challenge that takes time. Finding new meaning and purpose is key for longer term adjustment and re-integration.  Kate Minto – Mandala Foundation

Across organizations: Recovery authorities and funders/partnering organizations can help to ensure critical grassroots supporters have fair access to support. Community-level organizations are essential to community recovery, yet inequity in resourcing means an uneven playing field with regards to opportunities to support their people. There is a great deal that can be done to support staff, volunteers and community leaders with minimal financial investment, but this neglects to acknowledge that small organizations are already high on tasks and responsibilities and low on time and energy.

Consider too those who play an essential role in supporting community recovery in roles not traditionally deemed disaster recovery related, such as teachers or business owners.

We need a more balanced way to support recovery. The role of businesses in local groups is not acknowledged—businesses play a huge role in the rural community on committees. We are part of the foundation blocks. We help instill hope back into people. Brad Quilliam – Kinglake Ranges Business Network

Government services will not cater for the entire population. People will see aroma-therapists and chiropractors, and others in alternative medicine. But there is a load on these people without (disaster recovery-related) training and qualifications and they don’t have access to supports—we also need to provide a system around them. Dr Rob Gordon, Consultant psychologist in emergency recovery

[1]UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNHCR's Mental Health and Psychosocial Support for staff, 29 July 2013, PDES 12/2013, available at: [accessed 13 February 2014]