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Community Resilience Development

After working with our communities to develop community plans for the past 4 years, it emerged that one of the most important outcomes of community planning is increased resilience.

 Through our ongoing research, we came to understand that there are inherent characteristics in strong, resilient communities. The characteristics will change from township to township, but will most likely include attributes like leadership, networks, knowledge and ready access to information, infrastructure for social activities, a strong volunteer base and partnerships with other communities and organisations. It may also become clear that in some communities there are characteristics that are lacking or could be built up. 

 Our new approach, which not surprisingly have called ‘Resilience Development’, will commence with townships with community plans that are ready for review. Our approach will be much the same – the community will own the plan; it will be done in partnership with you; it will be social, positive and rewarding.

We will continue to run the capacity building workshops and we are always seeking suggestions from communities for workshops that would address any expertise gaps. We will also continue to run the bi-annual community conference and community expo. And we will continue to support your community to achieve its visions for the future.

Community Resilience Leadership Program

Council's Community Resilience Leadership Program was recognised through winning the Victorian Resilient Australia Award in September 2015. Judges praised the level of community engagement and announcing the award, Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said “These national awards acknowledge the need to empower community, lead change, understand and reduce risk and how to be connected and communicate. They are significant examples of what we can achieve when we work together”.

 

The Community Resilience Leadership Program (CRLP) went on to receive a 'highly commended' citation at the National Awards in December of the same year.

 

The CRLP was funded through a Regional Development Victoria, Resilient Community Program grant to undertake a leadership development program across the Shire aimed at building the leadership and ultimately the resilience of our communities – the Community Resilience Leadership Program (CRLP).

 

The CRLP engaged community members from across the Mansfield Shire to participate in a series of workshops with the aim of building behind-the-scenes community leaders who can support resilience development and disaster recovery from within their community. 22 community members were selected through an expression of interest process. The participants represented 8 small communities in the Mansfield Shire, including Woods Point, one of the most isolated communities in Victoria.

The program covered a broad range of topics that included:

  • Disaster planning, response and recovery cycle
  • Individual and collective strengths
  • Leadership styles and temperaments
  • Project planning
  • Communities in crisis
  • Roles of emergency services and agencies
  • Review and evaluation  

An expert facilitator, with experience in delivering regional and national leadership programs as well as community development initiatives post black Saturday was engaged to deliver the program which spanned 30 contact hours and included workshops, peer to peer learning, guest speakers and an emergency services panel session.

A working group made up of Council staff, emergency services and a community member with participatory experience in a highly regarded leadership program oversaw the planning, delivery and evaluation of the program.

The program culminated in a one-day Community Conference in which participants took part in planning and shared what they had learned with the broader community. Over 70 community members and local emergency service personal attended the conference.

Following the conference Mansfield Shire Council engaged an evaluation agency Clear Horizons to undertake an evaluation of the program using a technique of Most Significant Change. Through this evaluation, the following outcomes were identified as most significant:

  • Development of new partnerships and networks and strengthen existing relationships so community can support community in times of need
  • Development of strong community leadership - a characteristic of resilient communities
  • Increase community understanding of resilience and use of local knowledge
  • Increased resilience building activities and planning in communities

Through the delivery of the program the following were identified as key learnings:

  • Most community members are largely unaware of the planning that goes on in the emergency management
  • sector or the strategic approach to an emergency.
  • There are still a lot of misunderstandings about emergency planning (e.g. that a Neighbourhood Safer Place
  • should not be part of your individual emergency plan)
  • That it is entirely possible to establish a Council/community/emergency services partnership.
  • That resilience is already inherent in many small communities.
  • That our small communities are largely unaware of the risks they may face and consequently risk awareness
  • should be incorporated into future community planning activities.