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This content is taken from the The University of Newcastle Australia & UNITAR's online course, Bushfires: Response, Relief and Resilience. Join the course to learn more.
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Support for Individuals

Safety and security

In the aftermath of a bushfire disaster, providing safety and security helps to support and reassure individuals and families. Maintaining safe working conditions for vulnerable people can ensure that no other accidents happen while communities are recovering. Safety also involves assistance for individuals and groups that have suffered from traumatic injuries and experiences because of bushfires.

Like bushfire impacts, recovery activities and services can fall into various categories:

  • Health, including medical, allied health and clinical services, public health (water, sanitation, hazardous materials, food security, mental health support and health promotion activities)
  • Shelter, including accommodation in the short, medium and long-term
  • Psychosocial support, including individual and community activities and services. Safety and security
  • Social recovery activities to address safety and security may include:
  • Providing timely information about safety, protection issues and actions to address safety and wellbeing issues during demolition or securing damaged buildings.
  • Protection for children who as a result of the disaster are orphaned or separated from their families
  • Maintenance of safe working environments, as well as safe environments for vulnerable people (for example, ensuring ‘working with children check’ for all workers).


Responding to the health needs in the recovery phase involves the immediate and ongoing care for affected individuals and communities.

One of the largest impacts on health can be the spread of contagious diseases. Where there is damage to properties and sewage systems there can be an increase in the spread of diseases. Authorities should implement measures such as vaccine programs if, for example, there is an increase in diagnosis of flu or other contagious illnesses.

Health protection/environmental health is also very important—air quality, food and water inspections and advice. For instance, ensuring water tank quality, disposal of spoilt food, review of food preparation procedures in welfare centres.

Inspections and review of sewerage and other contamination issues that may impact on the health of the community.

Health promotion activities, like information and advice about heat stress, clean up, health hazards and other activities that aim to enhance self-care and address emerging and/or ongoing hazards in recovery.

Psychosocial support

Individuals and households can require psychosocial support in order to manage mental health concerns and lasting impacts such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) which may include:

  • Psychological first aid
  • Personal support services such as a carer or disability support worker
  • Practical support (transport, access, communication, shelter, personal needs, water, food, clothing and childcare).

Learn more about psychosocial support and psychological first aid during a fire in this video from Radio New Zealand

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Let’s discuss

What does safety and security look like for you as an individual?

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This article is from the free online course:

Bushfires: Response, Relief and Resilience

The University of Newcastle Australia