Media ReleaseFire & Flood Resilience30 May 2021

New mission to help communities prepare for disasters and bounce back stronger

Highly resilient communities tend to have healthy social fabric, diverse and vibrant economies, and robust built environments.

SES personnel sharing their flood preparedness plan on January 6, 2011 in Goodooga, New South Wales. Photo Credit: Pool via Getty Images.

Minderoo Foundation and its partners today launched the Resilient Communities mission, to lift resilience to fire and flood in at-risk communities across Australia by 2025.

The mission will provide support to communities through local programs that address critical issues such as mental health, underinsurance, access to essential resources, and education and training on resilience and leadership.

Communities that have higher levels of resilience are better equipped to cope with the impact of disasters and make plans to adapt to such events in the future. Yet almost half of Australia’s population live in communities that have a low-to-moderate level of disaster resilience.

A study by The Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research and Methods found that people who lived in a functioning community were more likely to have considered volunteering, to take actions to reduce the threat of bushfires, to change or update their insurance policy, and were more likely to have donated to bushfire-related causes. This demonstrates the benefits from supporting resilient communities.

The Resilient Communities mission focuses on four key areas:

  1. Leadership – empowering local leaders to enact community resilience plans. Including a 15-month community-led resilience program conducted in a community with the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR) and consulting firm, EllisKent.
  2. Knowledge – offering new types of education and training on resilience that enable longer term change. This includes training on disaster resilience for volunteers to equip them with the skills to assist communities to prepare in the off season. Starting with a program run by Disaster Relief Australia to help communities understand their risks and prepare before disasters strike, more organisations offering resilience training are being invited to join a national disaster resilience volunteer program to be announced in August.
  3. Resources – improving access to critical resources before, during, and after events occur, to lessen impact and fast-track recovery. This includes the temporary accommodation ‘recovery pod’ program which has provided nearly 300 pods across Australia in collaboration with the Salvation Army, Red Cross, and the South Australian and New South Wales governments; tool libraries and mobile saw mills to clear land and create employment for local businesses working with Lions; water tanks with Rotary and Pioneer Tanks SA; mental health training with Movember for young people in sporting clubs on Kangaroo Island; and mental health training with Lifeline to support bushfire-affected residents on the south coast of NSW.
  4. Investment – accelerating new types of investments to encourage behaviour change and reduce insurance premiums. Up to 40 per cent of homes are uninsured across some regions in Australia. The Climate Resilient Housing Toolkit is being developed in collaboration with the Canberra Region Joint Organisation, Edge Environment, Resilience NSW and the Insurance Council of Australia. It will provide residents with expert information on how to modify their property to reduce the risk of bushfire damage. The project is intended to be shared with insurers to incentivise customers to make changes to their property to receive a reduced premium.

Minderoo Foundation’s Fire and Flood Resilience initiative CEO, Adrian Turner, said the Resilient Communities mission aims to empower local communities with the knowledge and the education to adapt to more frequent extreme weather events, through programs that can be scaled nationally.

“We know that many communities are in the grip of a mental health crisis due to the ongoing impact of fires, floods and the pandemic,” he said. “The Resilient Communities mission is addressing this with young people living on Kangaroo Island, through sport and in collaboration with Movember and Alive.

“In addition, 500 people have participated in Lifeline courses on the south coast of New South Wales and learned about suicide prevention and how to identify the signs and symptoms of mental health distress in others to help them get the support they need.”

Mr Turner said people were inclined to be less complacent about disaster risk when they were informed. “We want to empower local leaders to develop and enact resilience plans,” he said. “We’re doing this by piloting a community-led disaster resilience program, providing practical resources to help people modify their properties, as well as rolling out a national disaster resilience volunteer corps which we are looking to kick off with Disaster Relief Australia – through training skilled veterans to help communities prepare in the off season.

“None of this would be possible without our partners.”

The Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management commended Minderoo Foundation for its initiative to lift resilience for those who live in bushfire and flood prone regions.

“Strong communities support each other, help each other and heal each other. Strong communities are the catalyst for resilience and good mental health, and are crucial for Australia’s ability to prepare for and recover from natural disasters.”

Minderoo Foundation
by Minderoo Foundation

Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with eight key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.

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