The Role of NGOs in Building Sustainable Community Resilience

The Australian & New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference  would like to thank Ms Julie Molloy, Director, Social Engagements, Volunteering Queensland for presenting this paper at the 2013 conference held 28-30 May Mercure Brisbane.

Ms Julie Molloy, Director, Social Engagements, Volunteering Queensland
Ms Julie Molloy, Director, Social Engagements, Volunteering Queensland

Julie discussed the broad role that impact driven NGOs can play in disaster management and sustainable community resilience building through an exploration of the findings and impacts of the largest community resilience building program in Australia, led by a non-government organisation.

Planning for crisis management, business continuity and protection of infrastructure and assets only make up part of the larger picture that is sustained community resilience. Social capital, community competence and local leadership capacity are critical to a community’s capability to prepare, mitigate, respond and recover from disaster. These qualities are the social infrastructure which should inform and in many ways underpin the foundation of any hard infrastructure.

However, in order to attain these adaptive capacities, long-term community development and capacity building strategies are required. There are inherent challenges for disaster management agencies trying to engage communities in dialogue around planning risk-informed response and recovery plans for disasters. Limited resources often inhibit the capacity of emergency services to undertake community education and engagement activities which often sit outside their core business as response agencies.

NGOs contrastingly are ideally placed to work in and with the communities which they service, to educate and support them at all stages of disaster management. Importantly, NGOs already engage with a large majority of those members in community which would be most vulnerable in disasters and have an ongoing and trusted presence in the community. Ms Molloy argued that NGOs are uniquely placed to work in and with community over the long term in order to develop the adaptive capacities, whilst advocating for the need to create stronger partnerships and more significant funding opportunities for the sector to engage in resilience building activities.

Ms Molloy provided an evidence based look at the outcomes and learning’s from over six unique programmatic approaches to building community resilience to natural disasters and described the methodology and systems that support this qualitative work, allowing for scalability and sustainability.

This presentation and all the other seminars delivered at the conference are available via podcast from our website.  Click here to access the conference archives including the Book of Proceedings.

The conference looks forward to reconvening in 2014 at the QT on the Gold Coast 5-7 May.  If you would like to present at next year’s event please submit your abstract by clicking here.