Natural disasters and community resilience: A framework for support

Natural disasters and community resilience: A framework for support

Rhys Price-Robertson and Ken Knight

CFCA Paper No. 3 — May 2012
Natural disasters and community resilience: A framework for support

This paper explores the concept of community resilience and outlines recent frameworks and tools developed to understand and measure it.

This paper was written to assist service providers, practitioners and policy makers working with regional and rural communities vulnerable to natural disasters. Sections include

  • community vulnerability;
  • understanding and measuring community resilience;
  • physical, procedural and social enablers of community resilience; and
  • the use of social media in emergency management.

Key messages

Although the concept of community resilience is used regularly in both political and public discourse, it is a concept that can be difficult for service providers, practitioners and policy-makers to translate into concrete actions and policies.

A number of frameworks and tools have been developed to understand and measure community resilience, and these can help strengthen those practices and policies that will best promote resilience in specific communities.

As communities are complex and dynamic social structures, levels of community resilience are not static. It is important that those utilising the concept of community resilience make efforts to regularly measure it.

The first step towards enhancing the resilience of a community involves understanding the community's strengths and vulnerabilities, as well as its physical characteristics (e.g., local infrastructure), procedural characteristics (e.g., disaster policies and plans) and social characteristics (e.g., level of community cohesion).

While important, frameworks and tools designed to understand and assess community resilience are not enough on their own. Rather, they comprise part of a suite of strategies and techniques that can be utilised by those working to support children, families and communities.

Authors and Acknowledgements

Rhys Price-Robertson is a Senior Research Officer and Ken Knight is the Community Manager and Research Officer with the Child Family Community Australia information exchange at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The authors wish to acknowledge the valuable contributions of Kristine Gebbie, Brigit Maguire, Paul Arbon and Lesley Siegloff.

Publication details

CFCA Paper
No. 3
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, May 2012.
13 pp.

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