Waikato Civil Defence ramps up volunteer arrangements

8 June 2015, 03:49 PM

A new plan to use volunteers to build the ability of the Waikato region to respond to civil defence emergencies has been signed off today.

At its meeting in Hamilton, the Waikato Civil Defence Emergency Management Group joint committee also agreed to a new memorandum of understanding with Volunteering Waikato for the use of volunteers. The new agreement is in addition to existing arrangements with the strong local volunteer groups with whom civil defence currently works.

“Volunteers are a critical part of the civil defence response in a major emergency,” said joint committee chair Hugh Vercoe, from Waikato Regional Council.

“This new plan and proposed agreement with Volunteering Waikato will put the region in an even stronger place when it comes to response preparedness.”

A report to the committee said the plan was designed to help enable “the right skills and resources to be allocated to the right communities based on need”.

Where gaps between volunteer resources and potential needs are identified, civil defence will work with Volunteering Waikato to address them, the report said.

Also, Volunteering Waikato’s website would be able to handle public queries and registrations of interest on civil defence volunteering. Volunteering Waikato would help manage the co-ordination of volunteers who want to assist during an emergency.

“Volunteering Waikato will maintain an up-to-date database of volunteers on behalf of [Waikato Civil Defence], resulting in a geographic profile of volunteer skills and resources” across the region, the report said.

The plan itself notes how initial help in an emergency often comes from volunteers and that this community-based action was critical after the Christchurch earthquakes, including groups like the Student Army.

If coordinated correctly, volunteer capacity enhanced overall civil defence capability and contributed to the community weathering adverse events, the plan said.

The Waikato Civil Defence group controller Lee Hazlewood thanked Volunteering Waikato for the partnership approach it was taking with his organisation.

“We are really pleased to be working closely with this organisation to build our collective capacity to respond to and recover from disasters. Volunteering Waikato has been taking a very positive partnership approach with us which we really appreciate,” said Mr Hazlewood.

More information on Volunteering Waikato is available at www.volwai.org.nz.

This media item was current at its release date. The facts or figures it contains may have changed since its original publication.