Disaster Ready Church
Help Your Church Be Ready When Disaster Strikes.
The Disaster Ready Church Program engages with Seventh-day Adventist Churches in preparing to support their communities in times of disaster.
Each church has its own unique location, experience, capacity, and existing local services which inform disaster planning. ADRA provides 2-day Disaster Ready Church Workshops that are facilitated in-person and tailored to suit the needs of each congregation/region.
We all have a responsibility to help people in need. With ADRA’s support, you can harness your church’s capacity to prepare for and respond to disasters in your local community.
Use the link below to register your church’s interest in Disaster Ready Church training today.
Why become a Disaster Ready Church?
We have a responsibility to help others in need. Serving our community in practical and effective ways is faith in action.
The frequency and intensity of disasters is increasing with climate change.
Being part of meaningful conversations with others in your church community/region through a Disaster Ready Church (DRC) Workshop will allow you to be better prepared for future disaster situations. A team with an effective plan is far more resilient than individuals working alone.
What is the Disaster Ready Church Program?
The DRC Program engages with Seventh-day Adventist church groups in preparing to courageously support their communities in times of disaster.
As part of this program, ADRA Australia’s Emergency Management Team are facilitating DRC Workshops at local churches. Participants are guided through meaningful conversations and given access to tools that will enable them to form a Church Emergency Management Plan with the ongoing guidance and support of ADRA.
What is a DRC Workshop?
A DRC Workshop is a 2-day training workshop run by ADRA Australia’s Emergency Management Team. Two facilitators will visit a local church for a weekend and run a series of interactive training activities to engage participants in meaningful conversations and action planning. Attendees will gain access to useful tools and templates as well as broaden their awareness of the resources available to them in their local area.
Typically, the workshop runs over the times below, however there is flexibility in all aspects of the planning and ADRA facilitators will liaise with church leaders ahead of time to tailor to their needs.
- Saturday afternoon: 2:30 pm – 8:30 pm (with a break for an evening meal)
- Sunday morning: 9:00 am – 1:00 pm (including a lunch meal at the end)
Who can attend a DRC Workshop?
Anyone can attend. There are no prerequisites.
We encourage anyone holding a church leadership position, with experience in emergency management or a related field, or a genuine interest in this area to attend.
Are there any costs or requirements associated with the DRC Workshop? Where does the funding come from to run DRC Workshops?
The DRC Program is co-funded by ADRA Australia and the local church.
ADRA Australia covers the costs of training materials and staff to facilitate (including transport, accommodation and other expenses associated with their travel).
The local church covers any costs associated with:
- Catering – host churches are requested to provide simple meals for participants and facilitators where the scheduled workshop runs over meal times. Typically a Sabbath evening meal and Sunday lunch meal is provided by the local church.
- Venue – Typically there is no cost here since the local church uses its own facilities as the venue.
How can I organise a DRC Workshop at my church?
First, contact your local Conference/Regional ADRA Director and discuss your interest with them. They may know of other churches with interest in your region and will liaise with the DRC Program Coordinator at ADRA Australia regarding events in your state/conference.
When it comes to arranging the specific details, the DRC Program Coordinator in association with the Conference/Regional ADRA Director will contact the church pastor(s) or their chosen local representative(s) to work out a date that suits, share promotional materials, and to tailor the program to local needs.
My church wants to be better prepared for disasters and help our community, but we are a small church and most of our members are elderly. How can we become a Disaster Ready Church?
Not every church will have the capacity to provide an immediate community response. There may, however, be opportunity for your church members to volunteer in cooperation with another larger church in your region and/or be part of a regional church emergency management plan.
DRC Workshops that involve multiple churches in your region may be an opportunity to explore potential partnerships and consider activities that are within your capacity to contribute to.
The church leadership team is already over-worked in its current ministry and pastoral care. How can we find the time to participate in this program?
Yes, we appreciate that Church life can be very busy. We have also observed that when disasters strike, many Adventist members are very keen to offer their support. Being prepared for how best to organize their efforts is always best. Unfortunately disasters don’t wait for us to get prepared.
DRC Workshops may spark interest in church members to participate more actively in existing ministries of the local church, and thereby enable better distribution of the load currently being carried by church leadership. DRC Workshops are a good opportunity to start building a team of volunteers that can support the pastor and church leadership team.
Part of the DRC Workshop is looking at the structure of a local Emergency Management Committee to take care of administrative tasks relating to disaster activities and relieve the pastor of taking on these duties.
Another part of the DRC Workshop looks at functions required in a typical disaster response, and listing persons with skills (or potential to develop skills) relevant to these functions. The benefit of this is that an Emergency Response Team can be formed in the event of a disaster, allowing the pastor to focus on pastoral care rather than administrative tasks.
We know our local area and congregation. Why do we need an Emergency Management team from outside to come in and help?
ADRA recognizes the immense value of local knowledge, existing local capacity and local networks when it comes to disaster responses. ADRA’s intent is to help strengthen a church congregation’s capability to manage a disaster response on their own. There may be times, however, when your resources are overwhelmed and outside help will be beneficial. Being prepared for this is always helpful.
The process of accessing ADRA funding in the event of a disaster will be easier if you partner with ADRA to set up plans ahead of time since funds must be distributed in a way that ensures its use is transparent and accountable.
Consider the following additional areas where ADRA may be able to add value:
- ADRA Australia’s Emergency Management Team has accrued a significant amount of experience and expertise in preparing for and responding to disasters in many and varied countries around the world. We have also studied response systems used by many countries including Australia. By sharing stories from other places, you may be able to avoid some of the pitfalls experienced by others.
- ADRA Australia is a member of the CAN DO Consortium of faith-based organisations who work together to implement international disaster relief projects. Our team has experience in setting up external partnerships and working with other organisations. By hearing what worked well and not so well for ADRA in the process of navigating these partnerships, you may be able to build stronger partnerships in your local area.
You may have already consulted with local partners and have a useful emergency management plan including processes for continual improvement and readiness. We’d love to learn from your experiences and share your learnings with others who are at earlier stages of their disaster preparedness journey.
We are interested but not sure that we can sell this to the local leadership to assist. What further resources are available to assist with promoting this?
We’d love to dialogue with the local leadership. Their perspective is valuable and support from the local church leadership is critical. Local leaders are a key link in the chain of communication and are likely to be a primary source of information in the event of a disaster. The updates they provide on current needs in the community are critical to inform decision making at higher levels in the event of a disaster that overwhelms local capacity.
Priority for scheduling of DRC Workshops will be given to church groups that are in disaster-prone areas and where local leaders want to be involved. This is simply because there is greater potential in those places for preparedness activities to be effective and have a positive impact on the community.
The Disaster Ready Church program in Australia is in early stages, but there are already a number of churches on the journey. With permission, we could put your leaders in touch with theirs to share experiences. Each place may have its own unique challenges, but there may also be similarities and there is value in building connections between local groups for support.
How can I be better prepared for disasters as an individual?
The link below will take you to the Services Australia government web page on preparing for natural disasters. Scroll down to find information for your state or territory through links to relevant authorities.
Preparing for natural disasters – Natural disaster – Services Australia
Your local council will also have helpful information. You could visit their website, give them a call, or visit their office to ask someone.
Being prepared as an individual and making action plans ahead of time for you and your family is very important! Consider talking to your neighbours and friends about it. Sharing the preparation journey with others is a good way to keep you accountable.
The focus of Disaster Ready Church Workshops is on preparing as a group to meet the needs of your community.
Many of our congregation do not use English as their first language. How do we accommodate this in the program?
We’d love to work with you to tailor the program to the needs of your congregation and to overcome any language barriers. If there are locals who can translate, it would make sense to utilize them at a DRC Workshop.
In a disaster situation, there may be people in the congregation and in the wider community who need language services to access the assistance they need. The language, social connections and intercultural skills of people in your congregation are highly valuable.
So we attend a two-day DRC Workshop. Then what?
After the workshop, the DRC Program Coordinator will stay in contact to support leaders on the journey.
Typically, the local church board will elect an Emergency Management Committee (EMC) containing a small number of individuals with permission to act on behalf of the board for the purpose of disaster preparedness. This reduces the administrative burden and allows for streamlined decision making in planning as well as in a disaster response situation.
The EMC will work together on the Church Emergency Management Plan (ChEMP). Documentation for the ChEMP will be shared with ADRA Australia’s EM Team for review and feedback. A copy of the ChEMP will be stored centrally in electronic form where relevant persons will be given access to it (i.e. the local EMC, local pastor, conference ADRA director/regional manager, ADRA Australia staff and others as needed for the purpose of disaster preparedness).