5.2 People who provide navigation and connection assistance
"And, there was a – a case worker. She was amazing…she’s just like, ‘Whatever you need. You know, I’m here to listen to what you need.’ Not telling me what, you know? …it was also, ‘What do you need today, right here, now?’"16
The type of care and support people receive has an impact on their journey to recovery. The Commission’s Our Stories: Beyond the Disaster research found:
- • what helped people was connecting with others who made them feel understood and who provided direct assistance. This assistance was energising, not debilitating.
- • If this didn’t happen, mental health support was often a final consideration of the many challenges disaster-affected people were tackling. Practical issues such as insurance, housing, and supporting family inevitably rose to the top.
The navigation and connection role (currently performed by a variety of case managers and other intermediaries)17 is crucial to ensuring people receive the help they need. The people affected by a disaster may be unfamiliar with using welfare-related services. Practical assistance with paperwork and complex administrative processes, letting people know of opportunities over time, and people who listen, check in, and help those with similar experiences connect, are highly valued. Evidence is varied but suggests roles which proactively support people to navigate the service system should ideally be available for up to five years following a major event, depending on need and workforce availability.
A clear, national commitment to funding the navigator and connector function following disasters will benefit help-seekers and make planning easier.