The people of Kangarilla are actively improving their capabilities to cope with potential emergency situations.
The Kangarilla community is being supported by the Australian Red Cross and the City of Onkaparinga to band together to be more effectively prepared for and respond to a significant emergency event.
The Community-Led Emergency Resilience Project is bringing communities together through local connections and networks. The pilot project empowers residents and stakeholders to identify and undertake actions that build resilience in emergency situations.
A community disaster resilience toolkit and scorecard—implemented by disaster preparedness and management research body Torrens Resilience Institute—is used to assist communities to build collective understanding about how to be more resilient before, during and after an emergency. The scorecard gives a snapshot of the risks the community faces in its ability to cope in a crisis and the strengths and resources already in place to ensure resilience among its people.
Kangarilla stakeholders showed a strong level of interest in the program and the local Progress Association took on the management of the project and formed the Kangarilla Community Emergency Resilience Group.
To form the foundation of the project, the Red Cross facilitated a series of workshops with local community members that assessed Kangarilla’s community resilience. Red Cross mapped the needs of the community to plot necessary first steps in becoming emergency ready. Community members then went through an ideation process to develop their community action plan determining which projects they would like to work on. This resulted in various community-led activities to raise awareness of emergency preparedness.
The first preparedness event saw approximately 110 Kangarilla community members hear from panel of representatives from the Country Fire Service, State Emergency Service, South Australia Police, local insurers, South Australian Veterinary Emergency Management, Red Cross and council about how they have been involved in emergency assistance and recovery.
“We held the event as a workshop so we could share ideas about how we can better connect as a community, understand the type of emergencies that could affect us, and identify leaders in our community as well as our most at-risk people,” says chair of the Kangarilla Progress Association Bernadette Boag.
“Most people think about emergencies in terms of bushfire, but we want to be prepared for all aspects of other significant emergencies, including flood and other natural disasters, major car accidents blocking our few exit roads, or a COVID outbreak in our township,” Bernadette says.
Council supplied resources including maps, printed materials and signage to help facilitate the efforts of the project group.
Kangarilla resident David Cant is the leader of the emergency resilience group. Prior to his retirement a few years ago, David managed the state’s aerial firefighting fleet and spent three decades working for the CFS.
“It can be challenging to galvanise a group of people to work towards the same goals, but community connectedness is at the heart of this program. Residents have a role to play just as much as the services that will come to assist in an emergency,” David says.
Council’s Community Connections Officer for the Northern District Priah Dean says the program is “a true community-led initiative”.
“The people of Kangarilla are doing the work in advance so they are prepared to make decisions and take action should an emergency arise,” Priah says. She hopes the program will ultimately help people feel safer by strengthening the networks within the community.
“It’s amazing to see how the Kangarilla community has broadened its awareness about the various things that can happen in an emergency. There’s a lot of local knowledge held in the community and the project is capturing it for everyone’s benefit,” Priah says.
The project group is planning more workshops for the community to attend to continue discussions about specific emergency-related topics.
“There is a feeling of excitement in the community about the program. People are saying they are looking forward to future presentations,” Bernadette says.
The Kangarilla Community Emergency Resilience Group hosts a page on Facebook where information relating to different situations is shared. To find out more visit facebook.com/groups/kangarillacommunity
Gregg Howard, Bernadette Boag and David Cant share ideas about emergency resilience (left); Troy Inwood chats with David Cant about land management to prepare for an emergency event.