Seaford CFS fire truck

Published on 08 April 2022

Encouraging emergency readiness

Council is backing local communities to be better prepared in the face of emergency events.

Council will assist local communities to strengthen their preparedness and resilience for disasters and emergencies by delivering a program funded by the South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Commission, which includes contributions from federal and state governments.

The $165,000 Disaster Risk Reduction Grant will aid council to provide hands-on support in two locations identified as being vulnerable to emergency events. Council will contribute $47,000 toward the program using existing budgets.

The grant provides funding to employ a community connections officer – emergency resilience to work with the two locations over 18 months. The officer will help the communities to expand existing networks of individuals, volunteers and community groups who are interested in developing community resilience to natural and man-made hazards, climate change and other emergencies. In addition, the officer will work across council teams to build on recovery planning, complementing the community resilience activities.

The work with the two communities is based on the Community Led Resilience (CLER) program piloted by the Australian Red Cross in Kangarilla. The Kangarilla Emergency Resilience Group, a sub-committee of the local Progress Association, has continued to lead, bringing residents and stakeholders together to educate, empower and undertake actions that build resilience in various emergency situations.

“Having local community organisations to keep the focus of this work at the grassroots level is an important part of resilience work and active citizenship. We are hoping to find similar community groups in the next two CLER locations,” says council’s Community Connections Officer for the Northern District Priah Dean.

A series of four workshops to be delivered in Clarendon and Cherry Gardens has been co-designed with Red Cross to facilitate collaboration between state departments, neighbouring local government agencies, non-government organisations, community groups, and residents and stakeholders.

“Essentially, the workshops will develop a whole of community approach to emergency management,” says Red Cross Emergency Services Community Development Project Officer Shanti Ramasundram.

“We want to have emergency services involved in the workshops because it’s valuable in making the community feel supported to prepare for, respond to and recover from a disaster should it happen, and supports the concept of shared responsibility,” Shanti says.

The workshops will identify local knowledge, resources and skills already available in the community and find ways to grow the connections and network. The communities will self-assess their community disaster resilience using the scorecard developed by the Torrens Resilience Institute. The scorecard gives a snapshot of the community’s strengths and challenges in being able to cope in a crisis, highlighting what the community is doing well and identifying areas needing attention. A brainstorming session will then generate ideas and prioritise action plans to strengthen the community’s emergency resilience.

Council will support community leaders to drive the development of action plans to create resilience-building activities, training opportunities, and increase emergency education. The two locations will form connections with the Kangarilla network and encourage each other by sharing and celebrating their learning and progress towards emergency preparedness.

Council reviewed its operations relating to disaster management in the wake of the flooding in Old Noarlunga in 2016 and again in 2021 when fire affected communities in Cherry Gardens and surrounds.

“Emergency incidents ignore local government and state government boundaries. Communities don’t live by lines on maps either, so we will also build stronger connections with our neighbouring councils as part of this work,” Priah says.

Council has adapted its practices to align with the Local Government Functional Support Group (LGFSG), designed to establish a city-based headquarters in the event of an emergency to enable timely access to state agencies and emergency services.

“Learning how to operate at the state-level standards that the LGFSG sets out means council is now managing emergency events in a coordinated way by planning out our workforce and responding strategically,” says council’s Senior Emergency Management Officer Neal McDonald.

We’re working closer with the Country Fire Service to prepare for fire events by sharing information and response activities with each other. This work helps council to gain a closer understanding of emergency control agencies,” Neal says. 

MORE INFORMATION

Workshops will be held in Cherry Gardens on Tuesday 3 May and Tuesday 31 May.

Workshops will be held in Clarendon on Tuesday 10 May and Tuesday 24 May.

To book and for more information about the Disaster Risk Reduction Grant project phone Community Connections Officer Northern District Priah Dean on 8301 7221 or email [email protected]