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2018 APS Congress

The 2018 APS Congress will be held in Sydney from Thursday 27 to Sunday 30 September 2018

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Disasters

The altered, climate-changed world in which Australians are now living means more attention than ever needs to be paid to extreme weather events and the threat of natural disasters.

Psychology has much to contribute to all phases of disaster preparedness, response and recovery, including priorities like risk communication, disaster warnings, psychological as well as household preparedness, and initiatives that promote mental health and psychosocial wellbeing in people and whole communities following a disaster event.

How the APS is involved

The APS contributes to Government inquiries and gives evidence at public hearings. We advocate for the importance of proper funding for planning and preparation, including psychological preparations, as these have a much greater magnitude of influence and effectiveness than initiatives that come after the disaster.  

We also advocate to Government for the proper consideration of the crucial contributions of social, behavioural and health scientists, with their focus on prevention and preparedness pre-event, as well as their capacity to address the widespread psychosocial impacts post-disaster.

Through a Memorandum of Understanding with the Australian Red Cross we promote the involvement of psychologists in the work of the emergency services, both in the development of communications materials to assist with disaster preparedness, as well as in the psychosocial care of disaster-affected individuals and communities.  APS Disaster Response Network (DRN) members assist on deployments with the Red Cross, do wellbeing checks with returned staff and Red Cross workers, and facilitate support groups in disaster affected communities.  

To support communities around Australia affected by increasingly frequent and intense extreme weather events, we educate our members living in these areas about best practice in disaster affected communities.  Following large scale disasters we hold briefings for members and other mental health practitioners to orient them to working in the disaster context.  We support our members to assist with psychosocial recovery in their own local areas with resources and regular communication. 

We make opportunities for APS members to volunteer to provide psychological first aid and other psychosocial support following disasters, via our Disaster Response Network. 

APS briefings from past disasters

After large scale disasters, the APS has run Public Briefings on the psychological aspects of recovery for psychologists and other mental health professionals.