Safer and more resilient communities is the shared vision of Victoria’s emergency management sector.
But what is a safer and more resilient community and what actions do we need to take to achieve our vision?
In a resilient Victoria, our communities and the systems and structures that support them will be able to survive, adapt and grow in the face of global challenges and emerging risks.
Building resilience requires communities, government, agencies and business to work in partnership and share responsibility. It requires an integrated community approach that puts people at the centre of decision making and supports the emergency management sector to better connect with communities to understand their values, priorities and strengths.
The future of emergency management in Victoria is going to be shaped by the global challenges that confront us and the long-term impacts they have on our communities.
We can expect more acute shocks, more often, as Victoria experiences higher-than-average temperatures, reduced rainfall, increased drought conditions and more extreme weather events, including more frequent bushfires and storm activity.
Combined with the challenges of chronic stresses such as population growth, urbanisation, and technological advances we can expect an increase in the consequences of pandemics, disease outbreaks, security threats and telecommunication hazards.
The Community Resilience Framework will ensure we have a modern, resilience-based emergency management system that values and understands community contribution and puts people at the centre of decision-making.
The Community Resilience Framework will complement The Strategic Framework to Strengthen Victoria’s Social Cohesion and the Resilience of its Communities and the recently launched Resilient Melbourne Strategy while also delivering on one of its key actions to support the community to better withstand disruptions and bounce back better than before.
Emergency Management Victoria in conjunction with global resilience leader AECOM has been working with partners from across the emergency management sector, government, business, local councils and non-government organisations to develop the Community Resilience Framework. The Framework will establish a foundation from which all Victorian emergency management programs, projects and actions, that contribute to safer and more resilient communities, can be created, developed and sustained. The Framework will be a lens through which sector-wide activities can be viewed, to ensure that that all activities have common community outcomes at their core.
The Community Resilience Framework is listed as one of the priority actions under the Victorian Emergency Management Strategic Action Plan and development of the project has been divided into three key stages:
Stage 1: Map community resilience challenges and outcomes – completed.
Stage 2: Undertake broad community engagement to test and discuss the key relationships between the emergency management sector, potential community resilience outcomes and challenges and the definition of resilience – completed.
Stage 3: Develop the Community Resilience Framework for Emergency Management in Victoria.
The Community Resilience Framework will build on decades of experience from the sector while incorporating recent learnings and research on resilience. It will recognise and propose responses to some of the major challenges faced by community approaches in strengthening resilience and provide an opportunity for a more aligned and systematic approach.
Safer and more resilient communities explained
The development of a modern, resilience-based Victorian emergency management system requires ongoing resilience building tailored to a community’s unique networks, connections and structures.
Increasing our resilience involves focusing on the strength and sustainability of a community’s lifelines, as well as building and reinforcing the links between people and the services, systems and structures that support the community to function.
Safer and more resilient communities are:
- Connected communities.
- Healthy and knowledgeable, with the ability to assess, monitor and manage risks, while learning new skills and building on past experiences.
- Able to identify problems, establish priorities and act, with the support of good infrastructure and services.
- Flexible and resourceful, together with the capacity to accept uncertainty and proactively respond to change.
An integrated emergency management and community approach to resilience will focus on the critical elements of before, during and after emergencies and emphasise community:
Community Resilience Outcomes
Each community is unique and has its own distinct characteristics, networks, values, vulnerabilities and expertise.
As a result, there are many factors that influence community resilience. The Community Resilience Framework identifies a unified set of seven potential community outcomes to build safer and more resilient communities.
To develop the outcomes international literature was assessed and a benchmarking exercise was undertaken using the three key concepts of community wellbeing, urban resilience and disaster resilience.
- Are safe and healthy
- Are connected, inclusive and empowered
- Have a dynamic and diverse local economy
- Have a sustainable built and natural environment, community assets and infrastructure
- Are culturally rich and vibrant
- Are democratic and engaged
- Are reflective, aware and act.
Five workshops were recently held across the state to test the results from the first stage of the project to map community resilience challenges and outcomes.
The workshops were well attended with representation from across the emergency management sector. Participants were asked about resilience and what it looks like for their organisation and their community. Discussions were also held about the definition of resilience, stresses and shocks and the best ways we can put the community at the centre of the work we do.
The workshops were held from June 15 -27 at three regional locations – Traralgon, Camperdown and Bendigo and two inner city locations – Exhibition Street and Docklands.
Feedback from the workshops was very supportive of the development of the Framework and of the initial concepts proposed. The seven potential community resilience outcomes that have been identified were also strongly supported and endorsed by workshop participants.
Development of the draft Framework will build on, align with and complement existing and ongoing resilience and community development work happening within the sector rather than create something new.
Resilience is different for each organisation and each community, based on that community’s context and experience. The framework will provide a common foundation that each organisation can use to support its r own approach to building safer and more resilient communities.
Finalisation of the draft Community Resilience Framework is on track to be completed by mid-2017.