National Community

Disaster Initiative

Citizen and Community Leadership in Natural Disaster Preparation, Response and Recovery

In February 2011 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) released a National Strategy for Disaster Resilience document. It agreed to adopt "a whole-of-nation resilience-based approach to disaster management, which recognises that a national, coordinated and cooperative effort is needed to enhance Australia’s capacity to withstand and recover from emergencies and disasters".

The National Strategy document has good things to say about the need for social innovation and stronger social capacity in developing natural disaster resilience. "The Strategy focuses on the common characteristics of disaster resilient communities, individuals and organisations. These characteristics are: functioning well while under stress; successful adaptation; self-reliance; and social capacity. Resilient communities also share the importance of social support systems, such as neighbourhoods, family and kinship networks, social cohesion, mutual interest groups, and mutual self-help groups".
[Photo, right: Kinglake Community Recovery, Victoria 2009]

The problem is, the Strategy left design and implementation to governments and bureaucracies. It overlooked the reality that resilient communities are unlikely to be built without community leadership and ownership.

In August 2011, a national conference was held in Melbourne on Fire and Rain: Social Innovation and Community Leadership in Natural Disaster Management and Emergency Services. It examined community experiences and responses to Australia's ongoing vulnerability to natural disasters, and the need for effective community leadership and resilience in responding to natural disaster risk.

Following the Fire and Rain Conference, a Task Group was established to explore the development of a citizen and community-led national disaster initiative with the following charter:

1. It will be a national citizen and community-led initiative.

2. It will develop local infrastructure and grassroots initiatives in disaster preparation, response and recovery in partnership with governments and institutions.

3. It will develop forms of self-help and mutual assistance at the community level, in partnership with insurers, services, businesses and institutions.

You are warmly invited to participate in the process of creating a citizen and community-led natural disaster initiative in Australia.

CLICK HERE to read our Call to Action.

CLICK HERE to register your interest in participating.


Vern Hughes
0425 722 890


                  © Centre for Civil Society Australia 2011