Building resilience: understanding the capabilities of diverse communities: case studies of two communities

MacDonald, Fiona ORCID: 0000-0003-1966-0810 (2020) Building resilience: understanding the capabilities of diverse communities: case studies of two communities. Project Report. Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre, Melbourne.


The Diversity and Inclusion: Building Strength and Capability (D&I) project has identified building resilience with communities as a key focus of diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategies for emergency management organisations (EMOs) (Young, Jones & Kumnick, 2018). The project has identified a need for EMOs to develop greater understanding of the specific characteristics, barriers and needs of the communities they serve, and to identify their attributes, capabilities and skills. Interacting and communicating effectively with diverse communities has been identified as ‘critical to the building of resilience and reduction of risk associated with natural hazard events’ (Young, Jones & Kumnick, 2018, p. 6). D&I strategies are vital to EMOs, but they cannot be developed in isolation, as communities themselves play a significant role in building relationships. The research to date has focused on developing knowledge of how EMOs must be more open to understanding and working with the diverse communities they serve. The need for strategic change in D&I strategies and practices in EMOs is evident, and, in some cases, already in place (Rasmussen & Maharaj, 2018; Young and Jones, 2019). However, less is understood about how aware Australia’s newer communities are of potential natural hazard risks, their own capabilities and readiness to respond, and the potential roles they could play in building resilient communities with EMOs. While D&I strategies include greater representation of Australia’s diverse communities in EMOs (Rasmussen & Maharaj, 2018), this alone does not build resilient communities. Achieving this goal requires greater understanding of attributes, skills and capabilities from the perspective of the communities themselves. It also requires a fundamental change in the ‘nature of relationships EMOs have with their communities, from delivering a service (transactional), to working with them (relational)’ (Young & Jones, 2019, p. 8; see also Pyke, 2018; Young et al., 2018). The case study communities reported on here were selected for their diversity rather than their specific engagement with the EMS. Neither have a strong relationship with, or even a complete understanding of, the emergency services and the role they play. The case studies reflect the disparate nature of diversity, with one a migrant community living in regional Victoria and the other an investigation of young people, aged 18–25 years. While the migrant community is an obvious choice in developing understandings of the skills and capabilities of diverse groups, young people represent a unique challenge to EMOs in communities due to their emerging independence into adulthood, and trends in regional and rural contexts that see young people moving on to study, work and live in larger regional cities or urban environments.

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Item type Monograph (Project Report)
DOI 10.26196/5efc352cb103a
Official URL
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1608 Sociology
Historical > FOR Classification > 2002 Cultural Studies
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords communities, diversity, resilience
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Macdonald, F. (2020). Building resilience: understanding the capabilities of diverse communities: case studies of two communities. Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre.

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