Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

Not-for-profits (NFPs) and community groups in flood-affected areas of NSW will soon be able to access free mental health and trauma training, plus online resources from Benefolk Foundation.

Since last year’s floods, many employees and volunteers in community groups have been supporting recovery efforts. However, many of those people are now also feeling the effects of being “accidental responders” and themselves experiencing trauma and burnout.

Support is at hand, thanks to this training, which is co-funded by the Australian and NSW Governments via the NGO Flood Recovery Program.

The training will support community organisations, their staff and volunteers across New England and parts of the state.

Face-to-face training will be delivered in Glen Innes, Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, Griffith and Bathurst across May, June and August. Online and self-paced sessions will also be available to ensure everyone in local NFPs can access training in their own time.

Individuals working or volunteering in not-for-profit groups, community organisations, charities, committees of management, incorporated associations etc will be able to attend at no cost.

Julia Keady, CEO and Founder of Benefolk Foundation, who experienced the Northern Rivers floods first-hand, says that the training is specifically tailored to support those who have been working so hard to help their communities get back on their feet.

“The floods through central and western NSW had a significant impact and there are many people still being supported by wonderful community organisations. However, we’re hearing from NFP leaders that they feel ill-equipped to prevent the impacts of exposure to the trauma on their employees and volunteers. Add to that the fact that in NSW, obligations around psycho-social legislation changed in 2023. That means it is imperative for all NFPs and charities to be on the front foot of staff and volunteer wellbeing in their organisations.” said Ms Keady.

“So we developed a one-day, face-to-face course, which more than 130 organisations from the Northern Rivers completed last year, supplemented with online, self-paced courses, and access to The Community Well, which has more than 100 free resources tailored to not-for-profit organisations, all focused on enhancing wellbeing.

“This is a really practical session that will be able to be put into use straight away,” she explained.

Federal Emergency Management Minister, Murray Watt said that the Albanese and Minns Governments are pleased to fund programs like this, which support community groups with free mental health and trauma training, while ensuring support is tailored to the needs of each community.

“Community groups and not-for-profits have been the backbone of many regions during recent natural disasters, and it’s important we give those organisations tools to support their own wellbeing as well.

“This funding is another way our Governments are investing in much-needed recovery services delivered through community-led social recovery programs across the state.”

Proven impacts

The training builds on the highly successful program that ran in the flood-affected Northern Rivers NSW during 2023. That training resulted in significant increases in confidence on several levels:

  • Prior to the training, just 32.5% felt confident in their understanding of trauma. Afterwards 97.4% felt somewhat or very confident.
  • 36.8% did not understand vicarious trauma at the beginning, yet afterwards 97.5% felt very or somewhat confident.
  • 38.5% started the training not feeling confident in responding to trauma in others. This shifted to 94% feeling either somewhat or very confident after the training.
  • In terms of maintaining psychological safety, 49.6% did not feel confident in maintaining psychological safety. By the end of the training, 94.9% felt somewhat or very confident.

More Information

Organisations can learn more about the program by visiting https://benefolk.org/resources/central-west-special-project.

Those wishing to sign up for training sessions or webinars can also do so online, by visiting: https://benefolk.org/organisations/events-webinars

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