This week I had the privilege of meeting people from all over the world who work in the disaster space. For the most part these people worked for organisations similar in their role to EQC – insurance, reinsurance and catastrophe planning. I was invited to be part of a local panel sharing our perspective on what the Canterbury experience has been.
As I sat on the panel listening to the other members who spoke from insurance, business and government perspectives I was once again struck by the many different truths of our recovery. The analysis of last week’s election result also demonstrates different truths depending on who is doing the analysis… Did National get the Canterbury vote because of a resounding endorsement of their role in recovery, a lack of viable alternatives, or a fear of the inevitable delay which would come with change? They are all truths depending on the opinion of the individual voter.
The truths that CanCERN experience put us in a bizarre position in that we understand the truth of residential recovery from both a delivery and receivership position.
There are so many good things happening at the recovery agency level as more collaborative efforts are made to untangle enormously difficult dilemmas. Internal reviews of customer interactions and experiences are highlighting changes that need to be made and we can see positive results ahead.
From a resident level we also see a number of truths. Many people are nearly at the completion stage with their settlements and homes and they can see light beginning to emerge. Others are nowhere near that place and their truth is a far more dim outlook. Some (and we wish we could say more) are taking the opportunity to utilise the many supports out there to try to make their choices more confidently.
It is distressing to see personal attacks from one resident to another when truths collide and the positive and negative outlooks clash. These reactions are hurtful and unnecessary, doing little to help a fellow resident move to a healthier post-disaster life.
But the truths aren’t always experienced by only one sector. We are not cut and dried positive versus negative groups. There was a comment made on the panel about the social and emotional consequences of repeatedly feeling battered and isolated through the recovery process, and how many people cling more tightly to those who experience the same thing – this leads to spiralling negativity and isolation. We’ve often said this is the case with stuck residents, however, in this instance, the comment actually referred to staff working in recovery organisations. A shared truth.
The key question I have been grappling with this week is how we ensure the different truths are equally considered when making decisions for recovery? We know that one answer (which could always be utilised more) is to make sure everyone’s perspectives are put on the table during the early planning stages. That way we are more likely to see the elephant for what it is.