New locally-led partnership set to strengthen disaster resilience across Burnett Inland

Disaster recovery stories Media releases: 3 March 2023

A new initiative to enable Burnett Inland communities to be disaster resilient and future ready has begun to roll out.

The three-year project is a collaborative delivery approach between Red Earth Community Foundation and the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal, in partnership with the Minderoo Foundation and the Australian Government.

Almost $982,000 has been provided by the Australian Government, through the National Emergency Management Agency, under the Preparing Australian Communities Program – Local Stream. This funding is part of the $150 million awarded for 158 projects across Australia that are improving the resilience of communities against bushfires, floods and tropical cyclones. In addition, Minderoo Foundation is contributing $1,895,737.

The Disaster Resilient: Future Ready Burnett Inland initiative will mean that local community members, grassroots community organisations and community networks across the region can develop and lead initiatives that strengthen their awareness, increase their preparedness, and enhance their capacity to thrive and be resilient to the impacts of climate, natural disasters, and other disruptions.

Partnering communities will have access to flexible funding for activities that support their community innovation and design process, as well as the activation of ideas and actions.

Melinda Jones, General Manager, Red Earth Community Foundation says that the focus is very much on community-led resilience-building activities – with the agenda and solutions driven by local people, for local people.

“There’s been a lot of talk about the different things that we could do to ensure that our region is better prepared for, able to respond to and recover from natural disasters. This initiative will give us the chance to agree on exactly what those things are and then work together to put the strategies and tactics we develop into action at a grassroots community level.

“The role of Red Earth will be to act as the local program coordination point. We’ve already had input into the program approach and as we move into implementation, we’ll coordinate program activities, ensuring Burnett Inland communities and regional stakeholders have the chance to get involved. But our key role will be to ensure that all aspects of the project bring value to the Burnett Inland region and add capacity to existing systems, processes, and local work to date,” Ms Jones said.

FRRR’s Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lead, Nina O’Brien, said FRRR is delighted to be working closely with Red Earth to implement the Disaster Resilient: Future Ready program in the Burnett.

“From our work with remote, rural and regional communities over the last 22 years, we know that every place is different – and even within a region, there are nuances and different needs. We also know that locals usually have the answers to the challenges around preparing for and responding to our changing climate.

“That’s why we are excited to bring this program to the Burnett. The generous support of the Minderoo Foundation, who bring an adaptable approach towards community resilience planning, means that we can take the time necessary to have conversations in each community, co-design strategies and solutions and, importantly, to activate the ideas and actions that have been collectively prioritised to strengthen resilience to cyclone, flood and other climate impacts.

“Having piloted this model in regional NSW and now working with several communities in Victoria, we know the processes, strategies and actions will look different in each place. In some places, it might include things like workshops to increase understanding of resilience, or strengthening connections within the community, or enhancing local knowledge of climate risks specific to your area or small locality. In other places that might all exist and what’s needed is a clear strategy for adapting to change and disruption, or a focused effort on disaster preparedness that adds value to existing systems and processes.

“Whatever it is, our team will be there to support the local community in prioritising, developing, testing and implementing those ideas,” Ms O’Brien said.

Matthew Chesnais, Resilient Communities Mission Lead at Minderoo Foundation’s Fire and Flood Resilience initiative, believes the project is critical for the region.

“The communities in the Burnett Inland each face different opportunities and challenges. We look forward to working with Red Earth Community Foundation and FRRR to reference the Resilient Communities Framework as part of the project to help the communities consider a systemic and inclusive approach towards their resilience planning.

“Our mission is to strengthen the resilience of identified communities at risk of disasters and we hope to take the learnings from this project and share them nationally to help other communities be disaster resilient,” Mr Chesnais said.

Another stream of the initiative will be to support collaboration across regional agencies and organisations and the development of regional level resilience building initiatives for collective impact.

Find out more about the DR:FR Burnett Inland program and sign up here to receive regular updates and be notified about how you can get involved.