National Community

Disaster Initiative

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

Call to Action

Why do we need a National Community-led Disaster Initiative?

·      Currently there is a gap between the stated goal of governments in wanting to give communities a pivotal role in emergency management, and the skill and capacity of citizens and communities in assuming this responsibility.  

·      There are not only real opportunities for community-led decision-making, there is an urgent need through all stages of the disaster cycle.

·      Governments are big, and bound by bureaucratic procedures.  As such, they are slow to adapt and can struggle to action desired strategies.

·      Disaster recovery processes tend to reflect ‘Business as Usual’ rather than embracing the opportunities inherent in disaster-impacted communities

·      Community leaders and active citizens are desperate, because of their experiences or interest, to have a lead role and a strong voice in managing the risk. However, at present there are no avenues available to facilitate this.

·      There needs to be a fundamental change or shift in the relationship between citizen, community and Government. There is a crisis in governance and a disaster brings this crisis in to clear relief.

·      This shift needs to build on the passion, local knowledge and self-organising capacities of communities and should signal a shift away from tier upon tier decision-making to peer to peer collaboration. 

·      Deliberative and participatory stakeholder-inclusive processes initiated as disaster preparedness strategies and then formally enacted as disaster-response and disaster community renewal decision-making processes are needed.

·      The amalgamation of smaller local governments into larger Councils has meant that in the aftermath of a disaster there is an absence of a local authorising environment or agent at the township level.  This creates significant challenges in community preparedness, and in the response, personal and community renewal after a disaster. 

What could such an initiative do?

Focussing on preparation, prevention, response and renewal after disaster, it could:

·      Provide strong advocacy and direct representation of community interests, and ideas and alternative strategies and approaches to emergency management agencies and government departments.

·      Provide input into and feedback on government, non-government organisations, peak bodies, corporations and businesses emergency management policy and strategy developments.

·      Be proactive in advancing the issues experienced and identified by communities to government, non-government organisations, peak bodies, corporations and businesses.

·      Provide a space that encourages and allows free and frank discussion about issues arising from living with the risk and consequences of disasters, outside the confines of government, NGOs and business. 

·      Resource, support and enable community groups and citizens  

·      Encourage and enable independent, citizen led, community participatory action research and impacted community reviews of disaster events.

·      Ensure grants and resources are accessible for community members and groups to encourage initiative, diversity and local solutions to local issues.

·      Connect community groups and citizens with common interest in disaster resilience, community leadership and encourage trans-localism (the direct sharing of experiences and learning between and across local communities)

·      Be informed and directed by the issues arising at the community level 

·      Provide a channel/outlet for local community members who have developed an interest and experience in community disaster responses and preparation.

·      Foster a change in the disaster recovery paradigm from a government and funded agency led approach focussed on individual and family welfare to a community-led approach that is based on holistic community dynamics. 

·      Identify and seek investments and interventions to combat post-disaster community dependence and decline.

·      Explore socially innovative and entrepreneurial approaches to these issues.

CLICK HERE to register your interest in participating in the development of a National Community Disaster Initiative.


Vern Hughes
PO Box 159 Yarraville Vic 3013
03 5629 8400
0425 722 890


 © Civil Society Australia 2015