Disaster Resilient: Future Ready
Helping communities better withstand the impacts of natural disasters
The occurrence of natural disasters in rural, regional and remote communities is on the rise, with significant consequences: mental health issues, impacts to health and wellbeing, and increased disadvantage.
FRRR and our partners know that communities that are supported to build their capacity are better able to respond to the impacts of natural disasters. That’s why we have developed the Disaster Resilient: Future Ready program.
This multi-stage program involves a practical, whole-of-community evidence-based approach that communities can adopt to build their resilience and adaptive capacity to enable them to be well prepared before, and bounce back stronger and better, after a disaster.
This program is for partner communities only, and not for public application.
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An applied research project
Leveraging our experience in community recovery, bridging disaster recovery and preparedness with community development approaches, FRRR is undertaking an applied research project to produce a framework and processes for communities to use to enable disaster resilience. We are using practical and evidence-based methods that communities can adapt to be Disaster Resilient: Future Ready.
The Disaster Resilient: Future Ready project uses a participatory action research and co-design methodology. We’re leveraging current research and engaging a broad range of stakeholders to work with communities to develop and evaluate reality-tested indicators, methods and tools for building resilience.
Stages of the DR:FR project
Stage 1: Literature Review
Stage 1 of the project was completed in 2017 with a Literature Review undertaken by the Torrens Resilience Institute at Flinders University, South Australia. The objectives of the Literature Review were to assess the research and practice in the field of community-led natural disaster preparedness, with a focus on rural and regional communities in Australia, and other nations, experiencing similar challenges. We are using the research to inform the action research and co-design methodology in the DR:FR project, to develop and reality-test the identified indicators, methods and tools for building resilience and preparedness. We created a summary of the Literature Review which pulls out the salient points.
Stage 2: Design Evaluation
In early September 2017, FRRR entered the second stage of the DR:FR project with the commencement of the Get Ready NSW – Disaster Resilient: Future Ready Roadshow. The purpose of the Roadshow was to speak to identified community leaders (formal and informal) and groups that have either experienced, or are considered to be at risk of, being impacted by natural disaster.
MAPA NSW Reference Group was formed to select Roadshow communities based on criteria developed through analysis of indicators and profiling across a range of domains. Six communities were selected to be considered as pilot communities: Windsor / North Richmond, Kandos / Rylstone, Wee Waa, Ocean Shores, Holbrook and Hay.
Community conversations were held by FRRR with Emergency Service organisations (local and regional), community service providers and community centres, and grassroots not-for-profit organisations that have received funding from or have a relationship with FRRR (including donors and community foundations).
The consultations took a range of approaches including small group discussions, one-one meetings, and larger multi-stakeholder group conversations, driven by the local context and most appropriate way to engage with the community.
Over seven days, more than 2,300 km was travelled, and meetings were held with more than 40 community members, representing 26 organisations.
Stage 3: Framework Co-design
FRRR has utilised the Literature Review to inform an action research and co-design methodology to determine how to measure success and identify key milestones. FRRR has engaged the University of Sydney to design the evaluation framework, which is currently being tested with the pilot communities in the Get Ready NSW program before being refined and utilised to underpin the national delivery.
Expressions of Interest to engage in the program were sought and received from four communities and seven out of the 26 organisations visited during the Get Ready NSW Disaster Resilient: Future Ready Roadshow.
Stage 4: Place-based Pilots
In collaboration with our donor partners and the NSW Reference Group, three communities were chosen to participate in the place-based pilot program and trial the new national framework to improve community disaster preparedness and resilience.
The pilot communities are Ocean Shores, Wee Waa and North Richmond. With support from the NSW Government through the Office of Emergency Management, as well a number of philanthropic partners, the pilots are identifying effective approaches to building community resilience and determining what is needed for their communities to be better prepared and more resilient in the event of a natural disaster.
During this stage there have been several visits to each community, initially to bring together and build trust across various community groups including volunteers, residents, local emergency management, government and agency personnel. Building on this, we have tapped into the interest and energy of individuals and groups to transform preparedness and resilience ideas into actions.
The whole premise of these workshops is about supporting these communities to realise that they already know things about disaster resilience and what needs to be done, and offer guidance, where and when required. It is the communities themselves who are doing the work together.
Each NSW pilot community has different needs and challenges and they are moving at a varying pace, which will in turn be reflected in the granting process which has already begun with North Richmond and Wee Waa receiving DR:FR grants. To find out more about each pilot community, visit the DR:FR NSW community webpage.
Stage 5: National Extension
This final stage is focused on refining the framework, taking learnings from the pilot communities and then sharing them on a national scale. While the NSW pilot has not yet concluded, FRRR is already working with other aligned agencies and community programs, with a view to trialing the initiative with identified ‘at risk’ communities in Victoria during 2021. This is possible thanks to funds from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Maple-Brown Family Foundation and other philanthropic donors, which will enable the process to commence. Exploratory discussions have also begun in Queensland.
The expected outcomes of the project include:
- improved coordination and collaboration within and between communities, agencies and governments;
- improved mental health outcomes post-disaster;
- increased levels of local leadership; and
- reduced costs to the Australian economy.
All three NSW Pilot Communities are currently implementing their chosen projects to better support each other in readiness for their local emergencies, with positive responses seen in each community. The projects are being monitored and evaluated to establish an evidence base of best practice approaches that can be adopted and adapted on a national-scale for other communities, so they too can improve their preparedness and resilience.
National Extension – Victoria
We’ve commenced Stage 5 of the project (National Extension), beginning discussions with seven communities (video) in Victoria. Following an initial consultation period, each of these communities will be invited to submit an Expression of Interest to participate as a pilot community in the program.
The DR:FR program has taken on board some key learnings identified by the Get Ready NSW Program, which has seen some fine tuning of the overall program to provide even stronger outcomes for these communities.
Learn more about what is happening in each state on the DR:FR community pages:
More partners welcome
If you share our views about the urgency of this issue and have an interest in working collaboratively to develop systemic, sustainable and community-led, place-based responses, we encourage you to read further and get in touch to explore how you can join the partnership and be part of leveraging a solution. Download the Disaster Resilient: Future Ready project overview.
To explore partnering in this project, we encourage you to speak with Nina O’Brien, Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lead.
“Every dollar you spend upfront in some type of resilience initiative can be helpful to prevent the
same recurring events that happen if all you do is respond after disasters.”
Joe Ruiz, Director of UPS Humanitarian Relief Program