Community GroupsHousingNews

Resilience rewarded

Resilient communities are equipped to respond to environmental and social change with energy, renewed openness and a strong insight into how these changes affect the whole of the community.

 

Charmaine Jones, Sam Beattie, Colleen Hepburn, Jenny Leong and Jacob Photo: supplied
Charmaine Jones, Sam Beattie, Colleen Hepburn, Jenny Leong and Jacob Photo: supplied

The inclusion of voices from across the community is vital for a response that is both just and sustainable. Inner Sydney Voice (ISV), whose projects work toward these ends, received the NSW Community Resilience Award in October. At the national finals held in Brisbane on November 8, the ISV project Building Disaster Resilience in Social Housing Communities and the Remote Indigenous Access Project of St John’s Ambulance in the Northern Territory were highly commended, with the 2018 Resilient Australia National Award going to My Resilient Community, a partnership between local government, Queensland police and emergency services.

ISV’s Building Disaster Resilience in Social Housing Communities is a two-year project that aims to increase the level of disaster resilience within public housing communities in Sydney and across NSW. The project partners with FACS, local housing organisations and the diverse tenant population, ensuring high-rise emergency plans that are tailored to facilitate and empower tenants to carry out coordinated responses to disaster in cooperation with emergency workers.

Charmaine Jones, the Executive Officer of ISV, believes one of the most important aspects of this project entails overcoming the precedent of disaster response discussions occurring exclusively between emergency services and government agencies. Listening to and including tenants and on-the-ground workers in FACS or local NGOs makes good sense.

Ms Jones is also excited that an award that usually goes to larger agencies has shed light and shown support for the valuable work of smaller not-for-profits in local communities. “The commendation is recognition that this is critical work,” she says. “It’s a shared responsibility that needs involvement of community groups, governments, emergency services and residents.”

NSW Resilience Awards recipients, including Sam Beattie (with trophy) and Charmaine Jones (right) Photo: Supplied

NSW Resilience Awards recipients, including Sam Beattie (with trophy) and Charmaine Jones (right) Photo: Supplied

Project lead Sam Beattie said: “[The commendation] shows a huge change in the way emergency management is being done across Australia. It signals a change in how the government views local communities and what they are capable of.”

In the current phase the project is in the hands of the Red Cross, which is assisting in preparing emergency plans for the residents of Northcott estate in Surry Hills and Poets Corner in Redfern.

Existing social inequalities serve to exacerbate the effects of any crisis, making it even more difficult for under-served communities to respond and recover from a natural or human-made disaster. At the heart of this project is a statement about how valuable these communities are to our city. A resilient city comprises self-determined communities and agencies that understand the power of shared responsibility, working in concert.

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