Vignette series highlights community-led disaster responses

2 July 2024
Communities have taken matters in to their own hands.
Communities across New South Wales have faced catastrophic bushfires and floods, exacerbated by climate change. This ‘new normal' has compounded other crises, including the global pandemic, supply chain disruptions, inflation, and a housing crisis, overwhelming traditional disaster response systems.

Communities have taken matters into their own hands, organising response and recovery efforts that have been crucial in saving lives, providing support, and enacting long-term disaster preparedness. 

A new vignette series, "Stories are the Toolkit" illuminates these community-led actions. Based on interviews with 68 individuals from the Northern Rivers, the Hawkesbury, and the Blue Mountains, the series highlights the diverse, informal, and seemingly spontaneous efforts that have been essential in disaster response and recovery. 

Stories are the Toolkit was created by researchers from the Sydney Environment Institute and the University Centre for Rural Health in Lismore, aiming to inspire and inform other communities. The material is free to access and designed to be shared, with a podcast version of some of the featured stories in production.  

The 10 featured stories are rooted in social connections and local knowledges, from tramping through mud to deliver assistance to preparing for future disasters through grassroots resilience building - these "ordinary" actions amplify the strength of communities. 

It emphasises the importance of social networks and local know-how in coordinating support and accessing resources, from community Facebook pages to neighbours checking on each other.

This vignette series aims to reduce risk through shared experiences, highlighting the extraordinary impact of ordinary actions.

Read the story collection here (Stories are the Toolkit: Community-led Disaster Response, Recovery and Adaptation (pdf, 8.70MB))

This project was funded under the joint Australian Government – NSW Government National Partnership on Disaster Risk Reduction.

This research was conducted in partnership with Resilient Blue Mountains, StreetConnect, and Plan C.

Header image by Hitoshi Suzuki, via Unsplash

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