Flooded farmland with sign in foreground saying 'Water over road'

Self organising systems to minimise future disaster risk

Examining community responses to shock climate events

This project focuses on the organisation of spontaneous community networks of support in the wake of shock climate events. Working with partner organisations in the Northern Rivers, Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury regions, the project will examine the community groups who coordinated information, labour, and funding in response to the floods.

Critically, the project addresses two large risks which can undermine this type of spontaneous community response to disasters in the future. The first is the loss or lack of use of community knowledge in the immediate aftermath of disasters, or in preparation for future shock events, and the second risk is the loss of community faith and support for local and state institutions.

The community anger at the federal and state governments after both the Black Summer bushfires and many flood events shows both the potential risk of that breakdown of trust in, and legitimacy of, official responses. This project seeks to investigate whether local council and state support for the work of what was spontaneous community organising, may lower both the immediate risks of future disaster events and the longer-term risk of delegitimised formal institutions.

Funded under the joint Australian Government – NSW Government National Partnership on Disaster Risk Reduction.

This project is part of the Climate Disaster and Adaptation Cluster.

Contributors: Professor David Schlosberg, Professor Danielle Celermajer, Professor Amanda Howard, Associate Professor Kurt Iveson, Dr Pam Joseph, Dr Jo Longman, Professor Rosemary Lyster, Associate Professor Petr Matous, Dr Nader Naderpajouh, Associate Professor Margot Rawsthorne, Professor Jakelin Troy, Dr Blanche Verlie, Dr Scott Webster

Related research outputs:

Research article: Building resilience to the mental health impacts of climate change in rural Australia, published in The Journal of Climate Change and Health, 2023

SEI's submission to the Select Committee on Australia's Disaster Resilience, 2023