Psychosocial First Aid course equips cyclone welfare responders

23 June 2023

Individuals who played a crucial role in providing welfare assistance following Cyclone Gabrielle were offered a comprehensive psychosocial first aid course recently.

The course aimed to equip these responders with the necessary skills to address the emotional and practical needs of those affected by the calamity.

Tararua District Cyclone Gabrielle Social Recovery Lead Toni Chapman says Psychological First Aid (PFA), regarded as a "best practice" approach, focuses on delivering immediate support to individuals who have undergone traumatic events, be it a large-scale disaster or a personal distressing incident.

“Similar to medical first aid, PFA addresses the mental and emotional wellbeing of survivors, making it applicable to both laypersons and professionals involved in rescue and recovery efforts,” Ms Chapman says.

The course emphasised the development of organisational and community resilience, fostering a robust capacity to effectively respond to traumatic events within workplaces and local communities.

“By strengthening the skills and knowledge of responders, the hope is to enhance the overall readiness to provide support and aid in the aftermath of such distressing occurrences,” she says.

Recognising the significant impact of a traumatic event on individuals' mental health, the course aimed to empower participants with practical tools and techniques to assist survivors in their recovery journey. Experts in the field shared valuable insights and strategies, focusing on active listening, empathy, and providing a safe and supportive environment for those seeking help.

Attendees of the course, ranging from dedicated volunteers to professionals working in welfare organisations, expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to expand their understanding of psychosocial first aid.

“Many acknowledged the crucial role it plays in establishing a strong support system for individuals affected by disasters and traumatic incidents.

“As the region strives to rebuild and heal in the cyclone's aftermath, initiatives like the psychosocial first aid course serve as vital pillars of resilience. By equipping responders with the knowledge and skills to provide immediate emotional and practical support, our communities can begin the process of recovery, fostering a collective strength that can withstand future challenges.

“We want to acknowledge the dedication and commitment of individuals and organisations working tirelessly to ensure the wellbeing of those affected by the cyclone.  We really appreciate all you’re doing for our communities,” Ms Chapman says.

For any recovery enquiries, phone the Council’s Customer Service team - 06 374 4080 (North) or 06 376 0110 (South), or email: