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Recovering from crisis

Following our 5-step recovery plan may help you breakdown what feels like an enormous task into smaller more manageable actions. Each action builds on the one before, moving you toward your final goal of getting ‘back to normal’.

During you and your family’s recovery process there’s an important consideration to keep in mind. You need to regularly congratulate and reward yourself for your achievements, whether they’re small or large. There will be disappointments and times when it feels like nothing is going to plan. To navigate setbacks, celebrate the short and long-term goals and outcomes you reach. Acknowledging your achievements boosts confidence and helps you continue.

We have identified five phases or steps to recover from a crisis. They include assessment and risk analysis; activation and planning; execution of your recovery plan; integration of your plan into your ongoing life; restoration to and reconstitution of your new normal.

Financial crisis help

Whether you need help recovering from financial crisis, personally, as a family, small business or large corporate, the process tends to follow similar steps.

While recovery might be linear – one step following another - the emotions that accompany the 5-step process are not likely to be so straight forward.

You may feel all sorts of emotions during your recovery process. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may experience these emotions at varying intensity and for different durations. In many cases, it’s the emotional burden of recovery that makes the process difficult. If you are feeling overwhelmed do get help. You can consult a mental health expert, see your doctor or access support through organisations such as Beyond Blue; Lifeline call 13 11 14 or Black Dog Institute.


Breaking your recovery into smaller, more achievable actions as the steps below show, may help you manage.

The five steps of disaster recovery planning

  1. Assess the extent of the event (damage assessment) and analyse the ongoing or potential risks of the damage.

A damage assessment includes actions such as: 


  • Determining what the problem is. For example: serious illness, death of a loved one, natural disaster, job loss or financial crisis help.
  • Deciding what has been impacted (including yourself) and assessing the impact of the damage including financial, physical, mental.
  • Risk assessment identifies and prioritises threats and weaknesses and estimates the damage these could cause if they come to pass. 

2. The second phase is planning and action. This phase includes deciding who is going to do what. It may include researching your existing finances as well as looking at what governments, banks, or other organisations and perhaps, family, are offering in the way of financial help. You might also review your spending and saving, determine where to cut costs, and plan your budget to see you through the crisis and on the road to recovery. See our Cost-cutting checklist (PDF 216KB) and Budget planner (PDF 82KB) tool for more.

3. Execution of your recovery plan. This means acting on your research and doing what you need to get your plan underway. 

4. Of course, in amongst all this, your life continues. Integrating your recovery plan into your life and the life of your family is your fourth step.

5. The final phase follows the completion of managing the disaster and involves restoring things to your ‘new normal’. For example: 

  • Rediverting your resources.
  • Beginning to save for what you want not just to survive or rebuild. 
  • Learning from the crises to reduce future risks.
  • Reviewing and revisiting earlier identified opportunities. For example, education courses to reskill or upskill for the workforce; community work and volunteering; building financial literacy skills.
  • Repurposing your new habits of saving and cost cutting to build your funds and put aside for an emergency fund. (An emergency fund is about three months of living expenses.)
  • Beginning to save for what you want not just to survive or rebuild. Watch our video on developing Good Spending Habits to get tips.


Recovering from crisis takes time and resources. Some aspects may take longer and use more resources than your budget allows for, while others may proceed more smoothly. Recovering from crises is an unusual occurrence and you will experience setbacks from time to time as you navigate your way through the situation. 

It’s important to be realistic when budgeting your resources. You need to be honest with yourself about your expenses by researching them and not just taking a guess at what you might spend. You also need to set aside some money for a little discretionary spending to celebrate achieving ongoing goals. Speak to people who may be able to help with your plan or provide information about your situation. This may include disaster recovery experts or financial experts, and others who’ve experienced a similar situation.

Related articles: 

Budgeting to help recover from a financial setback

Getting your finances back on track following a financial setback can help you feel more in control and confident about the future.

Financial assistance: Navigating the support you need to recover

 A quick guide to our financial and other important support measures.

Things you should know

This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness for the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice. 

© Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL and Australian credit licence 233714.