Priority three: Support communities to be prepared and recover well after emergencies

Resilient communities can use their connections, networks and combined strengths to better cope with shocks, including emergencies and disasters.

We will identify and invest in strengthening community lifelines and supporting communities and businesses with the information and skills they need to act. We will also continue to partner with local government and recovery practitioners – working with communities and businesses to understand their capacity, strengths and risk factors and supporting them to plan and respond effectively, recover, adapt and thrive.

We will embed community and place in how we do business and prioritise those most at-risk 

With increasing pressure on the state’s emergency management system, there is a growing understanding that emergency management is in everyone’s interests – all Victorians can play a part in it and share responsibility. We will support those who can, to look after themselves, but recognise some individuals may require additional supports to keep them safe. We will identify and engage with those most at risk in emergencies to understand their lived experiences and needs, so we can target our support, build on strengths and achieve better outcomes.

Communities in different places have their own, unique built and natural environments, social networks, cultural heritage, economic conditions and diversity of people. These factors all affect community resilience and people’s experience of emergencies. We will focus on understanding the unique experiences, strengths and challenges facing particular Victorians in our planning, decision making, and service delivery.

We will deliver more authentic engagement and increase opportunities for greater inclusivity in our planning and programs. Services will be person-centred, equitable, inclusive, culturally safe and focused on empowering people and communities. We will link resilience to impact and needs assessment, seeking active participation from a range of local people in emergency management. We’ll aim for more targeted interventions, services and support and engage local people from different sectors as active participants in emergency management.

The Multicultural Emergency Management Partnership (the Multicultural Partnership) project

The Victorian Government established the Multicultural Partnership with the Victorian Council of Social Services and the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was set up to strengthen relationships between CALD communities and emergency services. The partnership worked with trusted individuals and organisations to develop and deliver tailored information and training programs. Vital health information reached communities in a culturally appropriate format and individuals were supported to act on it.

The program is expanding, building on the important connections already made. Government now has a better understanding of unique community needs and can help strengthen community resilience so people can prepare for, cope with and recover from emergencies.

Actions include: 

  • further improving culturally appropriate communication
  • building community relationships to increase mutual understanding and trust 
  • increasing cultural safety and responsiveness for all who participate in, or engage with, emergency management organisations.

We will strengthen community networks and leadership capacity before, during and after emergencies 

Communities can stand together. Many people are willing and able to step up and offer support through incredibly difficult periods. However, without the necessary connections, skills, capabilities, and resources, this can wear on their individual and collective resilience. We will clearly define the adaptive capacity of communities, business, local government, the emergency management sector and supporting organisations, being specific in our expectations for how responsibility is shared so communities will find it easier to decide how best to use their leadership and networks.

We’ll improve development opportunities, education and engagement, so community leaders have basic knowledge and skills and ensure local emergency planning and other decisions affecting community resilience include community at the table.

Strengthening local networks before, rather than during, an emergency will mean people can better help each other when it is needed most.

We will work with our partners to minimise disruption to community lifelines and prioritise building back better

Social networks and leadership capacity are just one part of a resilient community. Some emergencies cause a chain of impacts across multiple sectors and service providers, from local road access to telecommunications and health. Sometimes it might be safer if people consider building back better or in different locations with lower risk.

We’ll continue to work with industry and local government partners to identify vulnerabilities and interdependences in critical infrastructure assets and systems to reduce risks, impacts and consequences for communities. After an emergency, we’ll continue to meet with communities to collectively decide how we adapt, transform and minimise future risk.