Connecting Community Organisations for Disaster Preparedenss

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation onlypeer-review


After fires swept through the lower Blue Mountains of NSW in October 2013 and destroyed over 200 homes, a research project was initiated and titled ‘Community Connections: Vulnerability and Resilience within the Blue Mountains’. Reported in this paper are the results of eight in-depth interviews conducted with local community leaders. They were asked to reflect on their leadership experiences before, during and after the fires. The research clearly demonstrates that prior to the fires there were no formal connections between local emergency services and local community organisations. Each had limited knowledge of the other in terms of skills, capacities, scope and available resources. This paper will elaborate on the lessons learned by the community leaders interviewed. Just as collaborative bonds were finally being formed and combined initiatives had begun to bear solid results - reflected in higher levels of householder disaster preparedness, recovery funding ran out. This paper highlights the lessons learned, and includes the importance of maintaining a formalised and continuous connection between emergency services and community organisations. The research recommends disaster preparedness be embraced as a part of ‘core business’ by community organisations, and that multi-stakeholder connections be forged and strengthened through collaborative community engagement initiatives at the level of local disaster planning and preparation. Both recommendations contribute to the paradigm shift anticipated by Australia’s ‘National Strategy for Disaster Resilience’.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 07 Jun 2017
Event5th International Conference on Disaster Management and Human Health: Disaster Management 2017 - Seville, Spain
Duration: 07 Jun 201709 Jun 2017 (Conference information)


Conference5th International Conference on Disaster Management and Human Health
Abbreviated titleReducing Risk, Improving Outcomes
OtherWessex Disaster Management Conference, Disasters and Crises Related Group (DCRG)

The 2017 International Conference on Disaster Management and Human Health: Reducing Risk, Improving Outcomes, took place in Seville organized by the Wessex Institute. It was the 5th in this Series of conferences, following previous successful meetings held in the New Forest, UK in 2009; the University of Central Florida, USA in 2011; A Coruña, Spain in 2013; and Instanbul Technical University, Turkey in 2015.

The Series originated with the need for academia and practitioners to exchange knowledge and experience on how to handle the increasing risk of natural and man-made disasters. Recent major earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods and other natural phenomena have resulted in huge losses in terms of human life and destruction of property. A new range of man-made disasters continues to afflict humanity in modern times; terrorist activities have been added to more classical disasters such as those due to the failure of industrial installations for instance.

It is important to understand the nature of these global risks in order to be able to develop strategies to prepare for these events and plan effective responses in terms of disaster management and the associated human health impacts.
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